What is Majestic TF and CF? A Quick Explainer Of Majestic’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow.
TF stands for “Trust Flow.” This number reflects the amount of traffic that comes through a link and measures the “trustworthiness” of a page. CF stands for “Citation Flow.” It reflects the amount of “link juice” that a page has and is able to pass onto another site through links. Together, they are used to measure the impact of a link from a website, as well as the likelihood of a certain website ranking well for a specific keyword.
It does go a bit beyond this, so I recommend that you read on.
First, why have two different metrics?
As you probably know already, Google has played cat-and-mouse with people trying to game their algorithm for several years now. One of the ways that they were successful in gaming the system was by using bots to spam the internet with links, through comment spam on blogs and tons of other methods. They also caught onto the fact that some “authoritative” or “trustworthy” websites were linking to other websites, but few to no visitors ever clicked on these links, calling into question the value of linking to these sites in the first place. The way Google saw it was that either the link was irrelevant or the site linking could have been possibly paid by the site receiving the links; in either case, it resulted in a less-than-optimal web experience for web users.
So what is the difference between Pagerank (PR) and TF & CF?
Pagerank used to be what Google used to rank a page. It’s no longer a factor and is not worth really discussing anymore outside of a few contexts:
- If you’re talking about the history of SEO, it is definitely worth talking about PR
- If you’re trying to spot a BS SEO, any mention of PR or Pagerank should be a dead giveaway that he or she has no clue of how SEO works.
The idea of TF and CF is similar to what the old PR bar would tell you, with some big differences. First, TF and CF are generated by a third party, Majestic, and have no data coming straight from Google, while Google provided us PR directly from their data. Ultimately, there is a correlation between TF & CF and rank in the search engines, but it is by no means a direct, 100% correlation as PR used to be.
How can I use TF and CF to work on my SEO?
There are a few applications:
- Competitive analysis – what linkbuilding has my competitor done to rank his website?
- Link outreach – is this site even worth reaching out to for a link?
- Keeping tabs on your SEO – is the company that you hired cutting corners or doing good work?
I do a fairly thorough walkthrough of how to use Majestic to see what links a competitor has acquired. This guide should give you a good idea of whether your competitor has been doing something that you can replicate, or if you should just consider another method for driving links and traffic to your site. A word of warning: you may see that other sites are spamming and getting traffic—you may be tempted to do the same thing, but mark my words. Google. Will. Figure. It. Out. When it does, you’re going to get slapped.
You can tell if they have been using spammy methods through one of the following:
- There is a huge difference between the TF and the CF. A TF that is 1/2 to 1/3 or lower of the CF says that they are getting links from “authoritative” sites, but those links are generating little traffic. That is fishy and Google can easily tell that they are doing something manipulative.
- You look at the backlinks going to your competitor and you can tell that they are from BS websites like this one:
This is the main thing that we use to do linkbuilding for our clients. There are many ways that you can use Majestic to find new opportunities to get links:
- Find a website that is linking to an article on another site, then offer a better article for them to link to
- See if a specific blog has enough authority to even bother reaching out
- Find a website that is relevant to your industry that you did not know about. This can allow you to establish a relationship in a place where you can gain some new followers.
KEEPING TABS ON YOUR SEO
There are companies and individuals out there that are dishonest (gasp!)
You may be paying a company to write blogs and establish an internet presence for your business, and what they are actually doing is spraying the internet with spam comments. They only way that you would ever know would be to go to a site like Majestic or Ahrefs and take a look at your backlink profile. If you see something that doesn’t look kosher, it will give you the opportunity to fire the SEO that you are working with, avoid any potential penalties down the road, avoid blowing even more money on something that is bound to damage your online presence, and move on to another company that is able to do the work that you need.
What you should be looking at:
- The TF to CF ratio should not be any lower that 1/3 and even that is pushing it. Ideally, you have a TF/CF of 1/2-2/1 and you are actually getting some traffic from the links that you built. Links for the sake of links are not the way to go, necessarily.
- The backlinks that you acquire should be from a variety of websites, with a bunch of differing anchor text (the underlined words that form the hyperlink to your site), and should be in different contexts. They should not all be guest posts, blog comments, blogroll, footer, or any one type of link. If they are, for example, 50 blog posts and nothing else, your SEO is getting lazy and you might be at risk for a penalty.
- All in all, look for anything that doesn’t look natural.
TF and CF are metrics given by a proverbial “blind man feeling the elephant.”
As I discussed in another post, none of the SEO available paint a complete picture. There is a lot going on in Google’s algorithm (supposedly, over 200+ items) and these tools are only measuring links, which are just one part of the equation. As Google’s AI becomes even more powerful, it is likely that links will decrease in importance, at which point the entire SEO industry will be upended yet again, and tools like Majestic will need to change in order to continue to provide value.
Please share your thoughts below. Did I miss any important uses for Majestic’s TF and CF?