About 93% of all online experiences begin when a user types a query into a search engine, and that’s why search engine optimization should be a top concern for all online marketers. But what actually makes for a great SEO strategy? That question is a little trickier to answer, but it should be clear to any informed SEO that quality link building should be part of any program.

There are some generally great SEO tips out there recommending that SEO programs stay away from link building, but that advice is based on an assumption that link building refers to buying links on low-quality directory sites -- a practice that’s now penalized under the Google Penguin algorithm. Inbound links matter as much as they ever have when it comes to SEO, it’s just that link builders must be pickier about where those links are placed, since a poorly placed link can actually hurt a site's rankings. That’s where the flow metrics used by Majestic come into play.

Here’s what you should know about Majestic’s Citation Flow & Trust Flow:

Citation Flow

Citation Flow essentially measures how many sites link to a URL and therefore predict how influential that site might be. Citation Flow is based on quantity of links. It’s measured as a number between 1 and 100; the higher that number is, the more influential the site is predicted to be.

Trust Flow

Trust Flow is a bit more complicated to explain, but the characteristic it’s designed to measure is quality. Trust Flow, which is also expressed as a number between 1 and 100, is based on the idea that trustworthy sites link to other trustworthy sites, while spammy sites link to other spammy sites. Authoritative backlinks matter more than the number of backlinks, and that’s what is measured by Trust Flow.

Using Metrics

So how might one actually go about using these metrics effectively? By looking at how the two flow metrics compare, it’s possible to determine which sites would have a positive impact on the ranking of yours if you were able to place links on them. The best way to do this is to calculate a trust ratio for any site you’re considering placing links on. The trust ratio of a site consists of its Trust Flow, divided by its Citation Flow. If the resulting number is high (over 1), then you know that the site has links to trustworthy sources and therefore would be an asset in your link-building campaign. If the number is low (under 1), you should stay away from the site, as it might actually result in a reduced ranking.


At their core, Majestic’s Citation Flow and Trust Flow are ways to measure and assess both the quantity and quality of links that contribute to how valuable any URL might be in a link-building effort. And since successful link building as part of a great SEO strategy for 2015 absolutely must focus on high quality, understanding how those two factors relate can be the difference between boosting your rankings and tanking them.

What else goes into building links as they ought to fit into a truly great SEO strategy? Share your expertise in the comments.

By: Karleanne Matthews