We all realize that link building is a never ending need for our websites…. But, do you know what a “Great Link” is? Today we are going to delve in to the ingredients of great links and the qualities that make them great.
Let me start by saying, that no link is a bad link and inbound links cannot hurt you. However, not all backlinks are created equal. There are some easy to identify and specific things beginners can look for to help maximize your link building efforts. Before we move on, just to be crystal clear, the links we are discussing are inbound links or backlinks, which are other websites / web pages linking to your site / pages.
Link Quality Factors
- Relevance: Relevance with relation to backlinks is really very simple and intuitive. Does the link donor page have anything in common with your page which its linking to? Again, links are all good, some are just better. So with regard to relevance you need to be able to discern the content on both pages is related in some logical way. A “Green Widget” page linking to another “Green Widget” page is obviously, highly relevant…. But what if its linking to a “Red Widget” page, still relevant? Yes, related products and services are great links and aside from the relevancy factor can create a new set of related phrases (Longtails) for your own page as well. So related items and item variations are in fact great pages to have a link from.
- Quality: Quality really encompasses a great deal of metrics with regard to links, but lets point out a few you need to know. Is the website / page linking to you trusted, indexed, ranking and do they maintain their website well. You see, even a link from a related website isn’t much help to you if that website lacks the quality and index score needed to perform well. For example, a link from a killer looking page which hasn’t been updated in a year or has severe duplication isn’t much help. Did you know that Google for example sometimes goes many months without crawling pages which are duplicate or have become stale?
- Reciprocal: Reciprocal links are devalued… Period, they are not as good as a one way link and this is why search engines, Google specifically has a algorithmic theory regarding reciprocal links. Google believes that when a site links to another that this is in essence a “Vote” for that website. Having said that, I am certain you can clearly see why Google devalues reciprocal or traded links.
- Link Text: Link text is the textual and click able part of the link. Search engines use this text to help them determine the content of the resulting page and then measure the relevance as well. So if your link is an image or the link text is something like “click here”, the weight and quality of the link will be tremendously less than something like “Green Widgets” in the link text.
- Variety: Many times I see webmasters engaging in huge link building campaigns using one set of link text/textual descriptions. This is not nearly as effective as using a variety of link text on your inbound links. The same sediment can be accomplished in a natural looking way by reordering the keywords and using plurals and synonyms. This also creates a larger pool of relevant keywords and phrases for your page… In turn more rank opportunity.
- Surrounding Textual Content: If your “Red Widget” link is buried in a sea of text about “Sea Horses”… You still lose as the on page relevancy sucks and Google thinks your link is in fact out of place and irrelevant. Not a good link. By the same token, links residing in lists and menus are not as effective as a link inside a paragraph of related text.
- Advertising vs. Linking: A link is a link and should be clean (un nofollowed) unless its advertising. Google despises paid or purchased links… and rightly so. Buying links and not preventing them from passing both PageRank and link juice is manipulating the system. My theory here is simple, take it or leave it…. Advertising links should in fact be nofollowed as they are not links which are intended to lend the true nature of an organic link to the site’s visitors. So, save yourself a huge headache and costly re-inclusion by nofollowing advertising links. Keep it clean!
- PageRank: PageRank or PR has NOTHING effectively to do with search rank. A great example of this is Googling a term to find a PR ZERO outranking a PR 5 on the search results page. While PageRank has its value, relevancy is far more valuable. So if you take our “Widgets” example from above…. Would you rather have a link from the PR5 “Seahorse” page or a link from the PR2 “Green Widget” page? That is up to you, but I would go with the one that pays the bills.