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Core Link Value Formula

SEO Backlink Core Value Metric

Recently I came up with the idea that might solve my problem of finding comparable data with backlink profiles that I can use for competitor research, attribution, and justification of spend. It’s a formula that can be used to calculate a numeric value of the backlinks earned or a profile. A number for the boss/client, that is based on relevant data that can be benchmarked next to future work with peers.

Core Link Value Formula (CLV)

I chose to use the Domain Authority due to the majority of my clients/bosslings can understand backlinks from a high DA site results in a higher DA for their site which results in SERP ranking on their posts. We all know that it is not that simple but, I haven’t had luck with #nerdsplanning the details and leaving them overwhelmed therefore defeating the purpose of reporting in the first place. Hopefully, I will improve my explanation of strategy better in this next year and will add another post with an Expert Link Core Value Formula that includes mentions, social shares, and converting traffic. But for now, I will start with DA.

The starting formula idea is easy.

(DA value*Quantity of Backlinks) summed =Link Core Value

Simple right? I hope so, but not all Domain Authority is equal. It is based logarithmic scale. That means that another equation needs to be factored into the formula to account for that. But, first what is this scale?

Factoring for Moz’s Domain Authority Logarithmic Scale

Cyrus Shepard shares the logarithmic scale for Moz's Domain Authority

But that was 2011, which is a million in SEO years. So I checked in with him to see if anything changed.


Okay, let’s add a logarithmic scale of 8.5 into the DA. So the formula is now. Thanks, Cyrus!

((DA value*8.5 logarithmic base)Quantity of Backlinks ) summed = Core Link Value

Link Value Formula Steps

  1. Download a complete backlink profile. You can get backlink profiles from all the major players so I will suggest one for enterprise: MOZ, one for small business: SEO PowerSuite Link Assist, & a free resource: Backlink Watch.
  2. Separate follow links from no follow links. I use Excel for this.
  3. Multiply by 8.5 logarithmic scale. Excel again, don’t worry here is a sample Core Link Value sheet with the calculations.

You will end up with two numbers at the end one for follow links & one for no-follow links. As you proceed with future campaigns you can start using these numbers to set a benchmark, compare with competitors’ profiles, & goal setting for future growth.

Using Core Link Values To Compare Profiles

Now that you know how to create a Core Link Value or CLV from your backlink profile you simply repeat the process with your competitors. I always like to use three competitors because three is the magic number. This is how you can compare your profile to others and then set goals and eventually report on various campaign efforts results.

Campaign Reporting With Core Link Values

keleven kevinReporting, reporting, reporting, reporting. In my time as an SEO, I have had such a challenge with reporting. When I create something useful with concrete data it is too complicated for C-levels & clients. Then by the time I simplify it for the average non-SEO to understand it no longer has accurate data points, or turns into Kelevin Reports.

All off-page SEO campaigns have an URL attached to them. Whether it be a specific piece of content, multiple pieces, or just the homepage of the site, this formula will start with tracking those URLs, then sort the follow from the no-follow links, then apply the formula. You will then have the value of your work expressed in a number.

((DA value*8.5 logarithmic base)Quantity of Backlinks ) summed/Effort Metric= ROE

Effort Metric

I am currently at a larger company so I am going to use each department or agency the campaign required as my number. So, if I worked with Content, Dev, & Branding, that would be 3 plus myself in SEO for a total of 4 for the Effort Metric. If you are a consultant you can use the number of hours you billed. And so on. The Effort Metric is customized to each campaign.


Here is where I get really crazy. We all know ROI but attempting to get an ROI for a link campaign reminds me too much of buying links. So I am going to use an Effort Metric to get an ROE (Return on Effort). That way I am still able to set goals with KPIs for the executives, while still following Google’s best practices, the cornerstone of My SEO.

Core Link Value Campaign Report Steps

Here is how to tailor the report to your situation.

  1. Identify your target URLs of the backlink campaign.
  2. Set up tracking for links earned. You will need a tool that does backlink discovery. Majestic SEO and Moz Link Explorer are both great options for this.
  3. Add all new backlinks to a Backlink Value Formula spreadsheet.
    • REMEMBER: Separate the follow from the no-follow links on separate sheets.
    • NOTE: The Link Value Campaign Report spreadsheet has all the calculations needed to be included:
      • Column C of the first two Link Value Formula sheets along with the basic multiplication & division required for Link Value & ROE.
      • The Link Value Sums will auto-populate into their respective fields on the Value ROE sheets.
      • Enter the Effort Metric.

Presenting Core Link Values

Create a process to make the spreadsheet go ‘ping’. I know the original quote is from Monty Python but I found this image and couldn’t resist.

All of the above formulas result in extremely large numbers. So large in fact that they become unapproachable. You can solve this with Power BI or take the CLVs and insert them into a pivot table in Excel, then a chart that creates a visual. You will just want to make sure you use the same table structure and chart throughout all reports so everyone can understand future reporting.

If you are having trouble following my directions or, gosh forbid, see an error with my idea or math let me know. I look forward to improving this over the years.

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