High quality, relevant backlinks remain an essential search engine ranking signal. Developing your own mind map of backlinks can assist you in developing your own strategy for backlink building and in locating the juiciest of your competitor’s backlinks.
Why do I need a Mind Map?
Having a mind map of backlinks, whether they’re your own or a competitors, helps you to visualise their sources and organise that data in a way that’s easy to understand.
This helps you recognise opportunities to build up your website’s backlink profile through revealing which types of sites you should be forging relationships with.
By analysing your competitor’s backlinks you can uncover groups of links and specific link opportunities that you may have yet to take advantage of.
How much time does it take?
As you’ll see, to create a large Mind Map of backlinks can be time consuming. However, you can manage your time commitment by taking a smaller sample of backlinks and extrapolating those results.
How to make a Mind Map
Where to start…
Firstly, you’ll need to gain access to a backlink tool such as MajesticSEO or Moz, which gives you the ability to perform an in depth backlink analysis of any web site or specific web page. For this example we’ll be using MajesticSEO.
Step 1 – DOWNLOADING BACKLINK DATA
MajesticSEO, like various other site exploring tools, allows you to do a backlink search for the web site / web page you want to analyse and to download a summary of that data.
Firstly, search for the target website / webpage. For this guide I’m going to use the entity Leonardo Di Caprio from the IMDB database as my target webpage –http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000138/
Then click on ref domains tab, followed by the Download Data button.
Now download the backlink summary into Excel by clicking on Download Ref Domains. You now have your desired backlink data in an easy to manage spreadsheet.
Step 2 – SORTING THE DATA
Once the download has been completed, open up the spreadsheet…
The summary for my example target webpage contains details of 2371 backlink domains.
Now there’s a lot of data in here, but we’ll only be needing a few columns from it – “Domain”, “AlexaRank” and “Backlinks (page’s URL)”.
So… the next step is to strip the spreadsheet down to these 3 columns only, so you’ll have something that looks like this…
To simplify the list so it features only it’s most valuable domains, filter your data and sort by the “AlexaRank” filter. Sort by lowest numbers first (when it comes to an AlexaRank, the smaller the number, the higher the ranking) but be sure to filter out sites with “-1” rating. This filters the domains that are not big enough to have an AlexaRank.
For the page I am analysing, this brought the number of domains from 2371 down to 649, sorted by those with the highest AlexaRank.
Step 3 – THE CATEGORISATION
Now we can begin to categorise our short list of domains.
We found that it takes around 1 hour to categorise approximately 250 backlinks. With this fact in mind, you may only want to draw a smaller sample size from the filtered list of domains, which you can then use to make estimations.
Now you need to get on with the grunt work of categorising each domain to identify what types of websites are back-linking to your target website/webpage.
One of the quickest ways to open the list of domains is to copy around 20 – 30 of their URLs from the spreadsheet at a time and paste them into this very useful Ontolo link building tool. When you paste them in and click on ‘Review URLs’ button, it loads all of the URLs you copied into tabs in the same browser, saving you the time of opening the URLs individually.
As you start analysing your linking domains, you can start defining your category names. If the first 10 domains on my list feature the popular sites such as Blogspot, WordPress and Tumblr, I would create the category named something like “Social”.
You may also decide to employ sub-categories so “Social” could break down further into “Personal blogs”, “Movie blogs”, “Forums” etc.
So work your way through the entire list of domains that you have selected for your sample, categorising them as you go. Be sure to create any new categories for different types of backlink domains you come across.
Also, ensure to copy the links you allocate to your subcategories into their overall category heading e.g. ‘Social’.
Once you have finished, sum up the total number of domains that feature in each subcategory and category to get the total number of domains that feature in each of your categories.
Step 4 – CREATING THE MIND MAP
Now to design our mind map. For this task, I have chosen the easy to use, free tool on www.examtime.com
Once you have signed in to the website, click on the ‘CREATE’ button, featured at the top left of the page and choose the ‘Mind Map’ option from the drop down menu.
Using the blank canvas, you can begin creating your mind map.
Start with inserting a node of the target website/webpage you have been analysing e.g. IMBD – or in this case, Leonardo Di Caprio).
You then add other nodes featuring the categories and subcategories you chose, along with the total number of domains that you individually allocated to them.
And that’s your mind map finished! – You now have a simple web of nodes that gives you a visual representation of the types of websites which are back linking to your target web site or web page.
Note that for massive sites like IMDB, doing one generic mind map isn’t so useful, but doing mind maps on specific key pages can create very useful visualisations. This was why we chose the Leonard DiCaprio page.
Here is an expanded visualisation of backlink sources that includes a couple of other top entities featured in IMBD…
To get some tips on how to create use MajesticSEO to create an even better mindmap that includes your competitors’ backlinks – and to find the juiciest opportunities– read our blog on Using Clique Hunter to find Backlink Opportunities