I have plenty of time for good old fashioned link building, I bang the drum quite heavily for link bait and other types of social media marketing; but for a lot of clients they are never quite going to compete with the success rate of a well thought-out link building campaign.
There are two time consuming elements to link building; deciding which sites to look at for potential links and contacting them.
You can save time on the second by implicitly knowing whether a website is worth contacting. A lot of that becomes gut feel after a while but if you’re introducing a trainee or client on a course to link building what should you tell them to look for.
That’s where this short list of eight metrics comes in handy. Some can be assessed numerically which certainly helps beginners understand what a good link is and what isn’t. Over time they’ll develop that link builders’ sixth sense but in the mean time gives them a great yard stick to measure with.
1. Pagerank – admittedly it’s not the be all and end all when it comes to judging the quality of a site but it’s a pretty good short cut. The fact is nine times out of ten if given two very similar sites one with a page rank higher than the other and you had to choose which linked to you all self respecting SEO’s would choose the high ranker. Search Status is my favourite page rank checking firefox plugin.
2. No follow – not any easy one to spot without a plugin in, but if you are using Firefox the no follow higher is a game changing plugin. Most of the time it only confirms suspicions but a great tool that I couldn’t live without. Again Search Status does a prrety good job of highlighting no-followed links.
3. Domain age – Not all old sites are implicitly better than newer ones but look at it from Google’s point of view someone who’s in it for the long haul versus a Johnny come lately. Age doesn’t always but quite often wins out.
4. Domain extension – I know domain extension doesn’t carry any inbuilt Google kudos but as a short cut value judgement its right more often than it’s wrong. .ac.uk & .gov.uk thank you very much, .biz & .info maybe later. Also for new domain extensions like .me don’t expect them to build trust over night even if they are selling for silly money.
5. Is it a rankings competitor – if they rank already and then link to you that has got to help? A great quick way to judge whether they are worth emailing, the logic makes sense for even the most inexperienced beginner. Of course if they are a direct competitor they won’t link but hopefully that one will be common sense.
6. Links to competitors – if they link to a rival that’s probably how you found them, if they link to more than one rival why would they not link to you? If they are giving plenty of link love that’s a green light from my point of view.
7. Contextual relevance – this seems to be a major factor in how Cuil are ranking their results and I think it’s hugely important in all the other engines too. If some of your keywords aren’t on the linking page or even the domain it’s going to look quite a tenuous link in the search engines point of view. So there’s a good chance it will have less value.
8. Outbound link count – this one works in both ways but is still good to think about, fewer outbound links makes the link more valuable but shows they might be stingy with the links too many shows less value but a greater chance of success, this ones hard to quantify but well worth explaining. MSN have a good tool for looking at onward links. It’s one of the few reasons I occasionally use MSN.