Link building is still one of core elements of SEO and it’s likely to stay that way for at least the foreseeable future. In a post penguin world, it’s the quality of links that matters, not the quantity. The interesting part of the debate is defining exactly what a quality link is. One way we can begin this examination is by analysing the terms natural and relevant.
How Do I Know What’s Natural and Relevant?
Any links you already have pointing to your site or those that you’re trying to build should fit in with your brand and your industry. After all it makes no sense for a user (and by extension, Google) if a travel company possesses links from tattoo websites for example.
When you are either reviewing old links or building new ones, a great thing to ask yourself is whether or not the link adds value to the particular page you’re focusing on. For example, you’re reading a guide to a city that you’ve never visited. A link that takes you to information about public transport adds value to that page. A link to a page that talks about payday loans would be highly irrelevant both to the user and the search engines.
Google introduced the idea of the reasonable surfer and although it’s not far off ten years old now, it’s still a useful thing to keep in mind when you’re judging a link. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the concept, Google essentially assigned value to certain links over others on a given page depending on the likelihood that a ‘reasonable surfer’ would click on them.
If you’re reviewing a link and you don’t think an average person would click on it, it’s probably not worth having. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it likely to send traffic?
- Will that traffic convert?
- Can you be proud of that link?
- Would you accept that link on your own site?
If the answer is yes to those then you’ve got a good link. Remember, link building post penguin is all about quality and integrity.
Remember too that everything you do with regards to link building is in relation to your competitors. Our own Kelvin Newman put it best when he said ‘Google is the referee, not the opponent’
What About the Site?
There are a number of things to look for in the site as a whole that can indicate whether a link has value or is perhaps even causing you harm. Consider this list of pointers:
- Are there hidden links in the code? They can be hard to spot but using a browser plugin to disable CSS can show them up.
- Does the site advertise paid link packages or ‘sponsored posts’? If they do then avoid them unless of course you make the link no-follow.
- Does the site have a clear purpose? The majority of sites serve a legitimate purpose but there are of course many that exist for SEO reasons such as content farms. Avoid these types of sites.
- Sites that are part of blog networks – Similar to the above, these often exist purely for SEO/monetary reasons and should be disgarded. This tool can help you identify bad blog networks. http://www.yougetsignal.com/tools/web-sites-on-web-server/
- Does the site have Spammy links on it? Any links (especially site-wide or footer links) that feature Viagra, porn, gambling and payday loans in particular should be avoided.