In a thought-provoking article, Russ Virante of Virante SEO asks whether, instead of manually checking through competitors’ backlink profiles, it’s perhaps possible to automate the analysis, at least to dig for paid links. He suggests that by using SEOmoz’s link index, and comparing the numbers on some backlink profile metrics against those of Wikipedia [which has never manipulated its backlink profile], it’s possible to get an idea o how natural a site’s backlink profile is.
I think the idea is brilliant, but there’s another caveat beyond that listed: not all categories of sites build links in the same way/pattern. Nor do all industries.
In fact, Wikipedia is quite unique in that it’s reasonable to expect that more of its links go to deep pages than the home page.
Conversely, for SMBs (for one example), it’s much likelier that most links will go to the homepage. Think of the basic directories, mentions in local press, BBB etc.
I get that the idea was to find a site that hasn’t manipulated its backlink profile intentionally, but the choice of Wikipedia still has several other difficulties.
The fact remains that this automated analysis of link profiles is a pretty clever notion. Perhaps a better alternative would be to use the tool on competitors in the niche and thus appraise what they’re doing at a glance, in contrast to oneself/one’s agency.
Check out Russ’ tools.