Links make the Google world go round – but it’s not just a case of more = better. Quality is the most important consideration when evaluating potential link prospects.
So how do you know if you want a link from this site or not?
Metrics (Page Authority/Domain Authority)
Easily accessible through the Moz Bar browser attachment, Metrics are your straight forward, quick and dirty page analysis tool. If you’re intending to sit down and further analyse a page, I believe these to be of little to no value, but as a top level overview – they’re great.
If you’re working with a huge sample of data, an easy way to reduce it is to quickly eliminate anything under a certain mark.
Whilst this is a great time saver, it’s essential to remember that by taking such a broad approach to culling potential URLs, you risk missing out on a couple of hidden gems that might be nestled within the spam infested wasteland below your stated threshold.
A website still riding the fumes of their mega-blogging-2013 summer is all well and good, but if they’re not producing new content – what are you achieving by placing a link here?
This is the sort of link you might waste time or resources pursuing if you stuck rigidly to evaluating websites based on metrics – yes it’s an authoritative domain (for now), but its influence is declining rapidly, and with no new content it will soon cease to be relevant.
It’s important that the websites we’re looking for foster interaction within their community. You’ve slaved away on this infographic/longform article/hilarious meme for weeks, and you want to share it with the world right? Pitching to sites with vibrant communities means that your content is much more likely to be engaged with.
You’re looking to spur discussion, capture the imagination of readers and maybe get a share or two, rather than just quietly slip into the “Archive” with your post footer serving as its own tombstone epitaph – “0 Comments”. Scary.
Existing Link Profile
If a link prospect looks too good to be true – it probably is.
“Wow! This site has such great metrics – and it has so many referring domains! It must be extremely authoritative to attract so many links right? And they’ve laid out their terms so clearly – I can see right here at a glance who to contact and how much a link will cost me!”
It’s important to dig into a potential prospect’s link profile, at least quickly. It should be immediately obvious if the site is propped up on some sort of dodgy directory/link wheel scheme or other unsavoury foundation.
As with everything in link building – you’re looking for link profiles that appear as natural as possible.
Where would your link appear on the page if you were to successfully acquire it? Is the site already stuffed with suspiciously over-optimised anchor text?
If so – the site is probably one to avoid.
Sites that are willing to brazenly display commercial, keyword rich anchor text links throughout their content are openly flouting Google’s Guidelines and are eventually going to suffer the consequences.
What do the existing links on the site look like? If they’re making frequent use of over-optimised commercial keywords then they’re likely to be on the receiving end of a manual action penalty at some point.
You really don’t want to be around when that happens, so steer clear! Anchor text should be as organic as possible.
If you’re in any doubt, ask yourself these questions:
Will I ever have to remove this link?
Is this link ever at risk of getting you in trouble with Google? Consider Google’s existing guidelines, and changes that they’re likely to make in the future.
Just because you can get away with it now – doesn’t mean that will be the case forever.
There’s nothing worse than actively harming your own campaign.
Would I be happy to show this link to my client?
If there’s any niggling doubt in your mind – chances are you wouldn’t want to show it off to your client!
Keep the list with you when evaluating sites with this – Handy Checklist