Meet the flow metrics

When working on link building projects with our clients, we often need to explain these two key metrics and their importance. An online search does not yield the results we would like it to, so we decided to take it into our own hands. This is your one-stop guide for Trust and Citation Flow; the two metrics introduced by MajesticSEO back in 2012.

What will you find in this guide?

What do Trust Flow and Citation Flow have to do with SEO?

Both Trust Flow and Citation Flow are metrics that evaluate the backlink profile of your website in comparison to the competition. In 2019, links are still one of the top ranking factors in SEO and so understanding these metrics is vital. Each of the numbers acts as an indicator, or grade, of the strength and quality of your backlink profile.

What metrics were used before?

Before Trust and Citation Flow, you may have encountered Google Directory PageRank. Google PageRank (Google PR) is an algorithm used by Google to calculate page relevance, based on the number and quality of links the page is getting. GooglePR is still used in its algorithms and is a ranking factor. However, the rank was removed from the public in 2016. It is now a well-guarded secret, making it more difficult to understand and thus manipulate.

The need for new metrics

With PageRank not being publicly available but still highly relevant, the need for a metric to measure the link equity of a domain became apparent. Many different tools tried to achieve this but they all failed in one thing: they were easily manipulated so their metrics quickly lost the correlation with old PR and high numbers were not reflected on SERPS.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth and technical approach to metrics comparison, head over to our comparison of Majestic Trust Flow or MOZ Domain Authority for SEO. These two metrics became the only way to “prove” if your website was high or low quality and their importance grew significantly (think link selling schemes). Though MajesticSEO Trust and Citation Flow, by being constantly updated and using a more complex algorithm, managed to stay relevant and lead with the idea that:

“A domain with high trust flow is likely to rank better.”

What is Trust Flow?

Enough with the history lesson and time to cut to the chase; you most likely came to this post to find the answer to this question.

According to Majestic:

“Trust Flow is one of the Majestic Flow Metrics, which is weighted by the number of clicks from a seed set of trusted sites to a given URL, or Domain.”

Right, so again, what is Trust Flow?

According to the above statement, the team at Majestic manually evaluated some core sites and ranked them, let’s refer to them as seed sites, or the circle of trust. Then the algorithm automatically crawls the internet and calculates the “distance” of those websites to the website that we query every time. So, we can say that Trust Flow shows how many clicks someone has to make through links, in order to navigate from a website circle of high trust to a specified domain.

What is Citation Flow?

Citation Flow, according to Majestic is:

“A score between 0-100 which helps to measure the link equity or “power” the website or link carries.”

Put simply, Citation Flow calculates how influential a link is without taking into consideration the quality. So, the more pages that are linking to a domain, the higher the Citation Flow.

It is very easy to see that Citation Flow might be easier to fake – it is a quantity metric, not a quality one. That is why we needed to come up with a metric that combines both Citation and Trust Flow.

Flow Metrics Ratio

Every website is assessed with two numbers from 0 to 100. One for Trust Flow and one for Citation Flow.

Trust Flow Majestic Screenshot

If we divide the two numbers, we get the Flow Metrics Ratio (CF/TF=FMR). This ratio basically shows us an overview of our backlink profile. It calculates if we are getting enough links and, simultaneously, quality links. Are you only getting a high number of links, without the quality? Then the Citation Flow will be “inflated” giving us a score of over 1, with 1 being the ideal result.

Of course, getting a solid 1 is almost impossible so we can safely say that anything under 1.5 is acceptable.


It is always good to keep an eye on flow metrics for your domain(s). Increasing your Trust Flow should be a priority as it indicates a healthy and strong backlink profile. You should always have in mind that quality wins over quantity, following a shady link building path can easily lead to an inflated Citation Flow that indicates low quality.

Focus on getting one link at a time and make it count, try to be as close as you can to the “circle of trust”. And of course, if you ever need help increasing your Trust Flow, give us a shout.

Lefteris Eleftheriou

Lefteris Eleftheriou

With a background in technology, sales and the arts, Lefteris manages numerous Digital PR projects for our clients. He particularly enjoys working on campaigns in the real estate industry and experimenting with new ways of working.

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