Looking for insights not easily gleaned through spreadsheets and raw data? Columnist Dave Davies explains how to use Gephi, a data visualization tool, to create a visual representation of your site structure with regard to inbound link strength.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words — and wow, are they correct!

Today, I’m going to illustrate powerful ways to visualize your site structure, specifically as it relates to pages that acquire incoming links; however, we’ll also discuss other applications of this technique using analytics metrics or other third-party data.

There are a number of reasons you would want to do this, among them to provide a visual context to data. As we will see below, visual representations of data can assist in quickly identifying patterns in site structures that may not be evident when viewed as a spreadsheet or as raw data. You can also use these visuals to explain to clients and other stakeholders what’s going on in a site structure.

To build a visual representation of our site structure as it relates to incoming links, we will be:

running Screaming Frog to gather internal page data and link structure.
adding the number of backlinks each page has to the page’s metrics.
using Gephi to create a visual representation of this data.
For those unfamiliar with Gephi, it’s an open-source data visualization tool — basically, it turns data into an interactive picture.

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