Anytime I’m asked about what my favorite SEO tools are, especially when it pertains to checking backlinks, SEO SpyGlass is always one of the first answers out of my mouth. The amount of data it can provide for you is unequaled among backlink checkers.
The one complaint people have about the tool is it can be slow to analyze a large set of backlinks. Truth be told, it can be a bit slow. It can also be a bit of a resource hog on your system. This can be especially frustrating if it freezes up towards the end of analyzing 10,000+ backlinks after a few hours.
However, one of its biggest assets is the fact that it pulls backlinks from a bunch of different backlink databases (including SpyGlass’s own database), and then it goes out and checks if the links are still present on each of those pages. None of the online backlink data providers do this. OSE, Ahrefs, and Majestic are only updated every few months.
This data is especially important when analyzing a site that has recently lost rankings. One of the biggest causes for a drop in rankings is often link degradation. In other words, a site is losing links faster than it is gaining them. Even though it may be slower to use than some other common backlink tools, this is why I stick by SpyGlass.
While you will never be able to make SpyGlass feel like a Ferrari, you can at least get it to move like a souped up V8 versus it feeling like a vintage Volkswagon Bug. I’ve played around with the settings a lot, and these are what I have found to work for me.
Under the preferences menu, select “Misc. Global Settings”. Your first option is the number of tasks you want SpyGlass to perform at once. It has a max of 25. If I am not doing anything else on my system at the time, I bump it up to 25. If I am working on other projects in the background while SpyGlass is running, I keep it between 15-20. You will need to play around with your system as to what works best for you based on your internet speed, CPU, RAM, etc. This might be the single biggest timesaver on SpyGlass though. If I remember correctly, out of the box it is set at 10. Even just bumping it up to 15 makes a huge difference in how fast SpyGlass completes tasks.
The other thing that I changed on my system is the “Request Timeout”. This was set at 30 or 45 seconds by default. I changed it to 1. This is the delay used if SpyGlass has any issues fetching data from 3rd party providers. That would be stuff like PR, Whois data, etc. I tested this lowering it a few seconds at a time to see if there would be any issues at any point. Got it the whole way down to 1, and have not had any issues. On occasion if I am not using proxies, I’ll see a temporary ban from Google for too many PR checks, but even that has been rare.
The result? Well, here is a sample I just ran while typing this. Full analysis of 1356 links in 5 minutes and 37 seconds. This was on 20 threads, not the max of 25. At 25, it probably would have been around 4 minutes.
One last tip you can use to speed up your use of SEO SpyGlass. Generally, you really do not need to analyze the links that no longer exist, right? So when you pull up the backlink factors to analyze, uncheck everything except the “Page Info” box under the “Internal Factors”.
When this completes, you will know which links are still linking back to the site you are analyzing. Select all of those links, ignoring the ones that no longer link to the site, and run the analysis again, this time including all of the backlink factors. This saves the time of pulling a bunch of unneeded data from pages where the links are no longer present. This is especially useful in the case of sites that have lost a lot of links.
I’m working on an analysis of a site for someone right now that recently lost rankings. SpyGlass pulled over 6200 links from the databases it accesses, but of those links only 1502 still exist. Why waste the time pulling data on the other 4700?
If you have ever been turned off in the past by SpyGlass being too slow, I encourage you to load it up again and try some of these tweaks to speedup its performance.