SEO SpyGlass is a competition analysis tool, which focuses on doing a deep analysis of the backlinks going to any site you specify. In this post, I’ll demonstrate the features in SEO SpyGlass and show how you can use it to get a competitive edge. I’ll also talk about the limitations of the tool, as well as some alternatives and competing products.
If you’re serious about SEO, a tool like this is an invaluable part of your arsenal.
Read on to get the details.
SEO SpyGlass Video
The features and functionality of SEO SpyGlass are best demonstrated in video form. Watch this to see how the tool works:
SEO SpyGlass Limitations
The main problem with SEO SpyGlass is that most of the links it finds are still provided by Yahoo Site Explorer. Yahoo's backlink reports have been getting increasingly flaky and I've seen strong fluctuations in the number of links displayed, with a tendency for it to display fewer links now than it did a few weeks or months ago. Sometimes, you can do a search for the same site twice, just a few hours apart, and get significantly different results.
The point is: Yahoo is not a very good source for a backlink report. It's still probably the best freely available source, but it has it's weaknesses.
Update: Yahoo Site Explorer now no longer exists at all, so it went from being a sub-optimal backlink analysis source to a non-existing one.
Having said that, SEO SpyGlass still gets a few extra links from the other search engines it queries and, more importantly, the true power of the tool lies in it's ability to analyze and filter each of the pages containing the links it found.
SEO SpyGlass Alternatives
Here's a rundown of some competing products:
WebComp Analyst is like a weaker version of SEO SpyGlass. It uses Yahoo as it's only source of the link reports and while it can also do a "deep" analysis on all the pages containing the backlinks it finds, it's output is far more limited than that of SEO SpyGlass. WebComp Analyist only reports on the page PR an anchor text in the deep analysis.
Quite simply, the free version of SEO SpyGlass is more useful than the full version of WebComp.
Link Diagnosis is a free online tool for backlink analysis that works in conjunction with a Firefox plugin. It does an analysis that includes PageRank, anchor text, dofollow/nofollow/missing, outbound links on the same page and a "link strength" indicator, based on their own calculations. It also provides a report for all indexed pages on the domain you analyzed and lets you export all the data easily.
I don't know where the Link Diagnosis data comes from, but from my tests, it's clear that they don't have a very strong source for their backlink searches. Yahoo site explorer usually finds more (although not a lot more) links than Link Diagnosis.
Having said that, the analysis is useful and thorough and it's quite a good offering, considering that it's free.
Majestic SEO is a very high-end service that provides backlink analysis based on their own crawling of the web. In other words, these guys have their own "search engine" that they use to do backlink analysis. This way, they are not dependant on the lackluster backlink reports Google and Yahoo provide.
Of course, this kind of service also comes at a price and in this particular case the pricing is pretty steep. While the smallest package is quite affordable at $17/month, it also comes with some pretty severe limitations, so even as an "amateur" SEO, you'll probably be needing the "silver" package for $50/month. And the price goes up exponentially, from there, for higher packages...
The price is justified, of course, but for most people, SEO SpyGlass for free or for a one-time payment of $99 will do just fine.
SEOmoz Pro is the service provided by SEOmoz. Like Majestic, they also do their own crawling of the web and while I don't know all the details, if you follow the SEOmoz blog and look at their documentation, you get the impression that these guys are a good bit crazier about what they do than the Majestic SEO crowd.
It also looks like SEOmoz Pro comes with more features and functions than Majestic does.
Backlink analysis is one of the first steps into what I'd consider "advanced SEO" and I recommend it to anyone who's got the basics of SEO and backlink building more or less figured out. In fact, just looking at various pages and their backlink profiles can be very useful for learning about SEO and getting an idea for why pages rank the way they do.
My number one recommendation for an analysis tool goes to SEO SpyGlass, especially since the free version of it is already very useful. If you want to go deeper into it than that, then my second choice would be SEOmoz Pro, despite the pretty hefty price tag.
Do you know any other tools like this? Any other favourites? Let me know and I'll take a look at them and maybe include them in the article!