In his excellent little book Linked, published in 2002, Albert Barabasi reports on an experiment conducted by Mark Granovetter that showed "weak links" were more effective that "strong links" in spreading ideas.
"Weak ties play a crucial role in our ability to communicate with the outside world… our friends move in the same circles we do and are inevitably exposed to the same information. To get new information, we have to activate our weak ties."
So let’s take an example of a weak link in the search industry. Ten years ago, Greg Jarboe was a pioneer in talking about how public relations can play an important role in search engine optimization. Since then, that weak link has grown to be not only an accepted but a vital part of search marketing.
If only you could spot those weak links early enough, you could predict the emerging opportunity and exploit it.
It seems a new feature released by Majestic.com earlier this year offers the opportunity to do just that.
Topical Trust Flow
Figure 1: Topical Trust Flow in Majestic.com
Figure 1 shows how Topical Trust Flow is shown in Majestic. Links pointing to each domain are algorithmically assigned to a primary topic – arts, business, computers, health, home, and so on.
This shows the topics in which the domains are influential.
The first domain we have highlighted, Dartagnan.com, has strength in specific topics – "home," "recreation," and "shopping." However, the second domain, DiBruno.com, has strength across multiple topics.
It’s a simple jump to describe these topics as markets in which the domain is active.
This gives three important strategies for link builders – and marketers – to follow:
Build on your strengths – look for markets in which you already have a high presence and build on that position by creating specific offers or link-building campaigns targeted at that market.
Look where you’re weak and improve your position – look for markets where you are weak but where competitors have a significant presence. Does this suggest gaps in your marketing to date? And that you should have strategies to redress the balance?
Look for emerging niches – are there topics within your own link profile or those of your competitors that surprise you? That you maybe did not realize was a market opportunity? In this case, the market is identifying itself – you launch a new product or campaign and someone in that market finds your offer interesting and links to it.
Such an analysis could uncover market niches that you could aim to dominate.
The granularity of Majestic’s Topical Trust Flow is also impressive. Let’s look at this summary of the link profile of REI.com:
Figure 2 : Topical Trust Flow for REI.com
We can see that the site has a presence across a wide range of markets. Majestic allows us to dig deeper into this information by filtering the more than 800 topics.
So let’s filter on the word "recreation" and a whole set of topics are revealed:
Figure 3: Depth of Recreation Topic
Let’s take one example of "Recreation/Birding" that Majestic shows has links from 92 referring domains. And we can follow the links to find them on the page:
Figure 4: Link to REI From FatBirder.com
The presence of such links – 92 of them – might suggest a niche that REI.com should target in their marketing. That might be a little far-fetched without further research, but at the very minimum, Topical Trust Flow provides link builders and marketers with: