Link building for SEO is huge, so understanding some of the fundamental elements of what ‘makes a good link’ is essential.
Google uses around 200 different factors in its ranking algorithm, with one of the most important factors being the number and quality of inbound links to any given domain and its associated web pages.
Websites with no links or a poor quality inbound link profile will struggle to rank highly for competitive terms, even if the content of the website is informative, relevant and well optimised.
Google is becoming increasingly smarter when it comes to identifying good and bad links, and long gone are the days when webmasters were able to establish high rankings by simply building a high quantity of keyword rich anchor text links to their websites from any old domain.
Link building is no longer a free for all based on a numbers game, and Google have been able to develop their data regarding link-related signals.
Major algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin have and continue target sites which contain poor quality content and use potentially unethical and manipulative link building methods. Websites identified by Google can be issued with penalties that restrict the site from ranking highly in the search results and in some instances sites can be completely removed from the search engine.
Since the emergence of these major updates a plethora of advice and guidance has exploded onto the web. As a result an ever growing number of people are becoming more and more aware of the role inbound linking plays in website rankings.
Here at Hallam, we are often asked questions such as; ‘what is a good link?’ and ‘is this link good for SEO?’
In order to answer these questions, broader factors should be examined. The trust of the linking domain, the diversity of the link compared to your existing links and the relevance of the link in terms of topic and anchor text are core elements to be taken into consideration.
Determining the overall trust of a website can be tricky; however there are tools and indicators to help you. The PageRank of a website can provide you with some indication; however this isn’t a comprehensive measure because it doesn’t fully incorporate information regarding quality.
Personally I like to use the browser tool bar provided by SEO Moz to initially asses the quality of a domain. The free version of the tool bar allows you to see the domain authority, page authority and ‘moz rank’ of any given domain and web page. There is also a number of browser plug-ins for SEO that can provide you with a range of metrics relating to link, traffic and popularity scores.
Beyond SEO tools, I always find it useful to research domain data using a who-is search, establishing the age of the domain, the country the domain is registered in and who the domain is registered to. These details can help to build up a picture of who is behind the website and their purpose for its creation.
My own judgement of the website also comes heavily into the equation and I ask myself questions like: does this website provide a good resource? Is the website well presented and maintained? Is the purpose of the website genuine?
The diversity of your websites link profile is also extremely important and you should try to establish links from a range of different domains, and different types of website. If all of your links come from just one of two domains or you have lots of links but from only one source such, as web directories, then it’s likely that your link profile will be viewed as either weak or un-natural. When trying to assess the value of a link, and the decision is close, then ask yourself if the link will add diversity to your existing link profile.
Relevance refers to the link itself and in particular the anchor text of the link. If the anchor text in the link contains the keywords relating to the website it links to, then the link is more viewed as more relevant to that website. However, the chances of gaining a keyword rich anchor text link is naturally higher if you are prospecting for sites which are interested in and related to your subject, so relevance can also refer to obtaining links from websites which are similar to yours with regards to topic.
The issue of anchor text should be approached with care, and when building links you should look to vary the anchor text included in the links to your site to ensure you include a wide keyword spread. You should also ensure that some links containing your brand name in the anchor text exist and build links containing just the raw URL of your website.
Whilst there are a variety of in-depth factors which can affect the quality and seo influence of the links to your website, the broad subjects discussed here should help you to make some good initial decisions when considering whether to reach out and build links to your site from particular domains.