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November 13, 2007

Eleven Things That Define What A Quality Link Is

In any link building campaign, its not just about the quantity of links you get but more importantly the quality of the link. Many newcomers to SEO think, as long as its a one way link or has high page rank, then its a great link, but there are so many other elements to consider before judging whether a link is good for your site or not. In most cases search engines won’t even count some of the links because they’re plain spammy.

Here’s a list of things I look out for when either buying or link exchanging:

1/ Theme of site – Before I look at anything at all, we need to ensure that the site (not just the page where the link is found) is on the same topic as the site being linked to. There’s no point having finance links on a health site. How would this look to visitors let alone search engines? I personally wouldn’t trust a site that links to irrelevant or unrelated content.

2/ Static URL – The pageURL needs to be static eg http://www.semhints.com/seo.html because these are the URL’s that search engines like. Make sure the URL isn’t dynamic eg http://www.semhints.com/?q=2315% or whatever it may be. I’ll go one step further and avoid link pages that have /linkspage-1.htm, /linkspage-2htm etc . If the URL shows relevant keywords, in my opinion, there is more value. It also shows that the webmaster has organized the structure and navigation system of his site well.

3 / Cached by Google – Probably more important than page rank, the page must be cached by Google. If Google cant see the page how can they even come close to valuing the link located on the page. To check this, simply install the Google toolbar, and make sure the page rank icon appears. Right click the page rank icon and you will see an option that says “Cached snapshot of page”. If nothing appears than you know the page has not been indexed by Google yet.

4 / Number of outbound links – Be warned now that many “one way link building services” out there say they can give you as many links as you want. Now its great that they’re one way links, themed, even has good pagerank sometimes, but they’re still link farms. Google says keep the outbound links on a page fewer than a 100, and some service say they’ll keep it under 50. But seriously, look at a page with 50 outbound links listed vertically, you might as well be looking at a thousand (well thats how I feel). It looks ugly when there’s many outbound links, and rarely would you qualify these as quality links. The more outbound links there are on a page, the lesser page rank juice is passed on as well. My rule of thumb is, ensure there are less than 5 outbound links.

5/ Page Rank – I hate these words since everyone so obsessed over it, but yes it is good to have a high page rank link. Just make sure you don’t overlook the main purpose of link building, which is to increase search engine rankings.

6/ Number of Incoming Links – The total number of links going into a site where your link is placed is always a good indication of how valauable that link is. Obviously, I would prefer my links to be placed where there are many other sites already linking to that page, not just the site. So there are 2 things you need to check here, number of links to the particular page, and number of links to the actual site itself.

7/ Traffic – Its good to have qualified traffic already landing on the page. There could be 1-2% of visitors going to your site (if its located where it can be easily found), hence instantly increasing traffic. You don’t have to wait around for spiders to crawl the page and struggle your way to the top of SERPs.

8/ Position – I’ve always liked my links to be found within content instead of hiding in footers or sidebars. SEO’s think its more valuable from a search engines perspective but that’s only a theory. From a visitors point of view, I think it would definitely be a more qualified and valuable link. While reading through a post, article, guide or news, and having links to referred sites, users will find it more helpful and resourceful for themselves.

9/ Unique IP address – If I was to buy a link (IF, with a capital ‘I’), I would only buy 1 link. It will look very suspicious to search engine if 100 sites have a link to a certain page and all come from the same IP address. Obviously the sites are owned by the same webmaster. You might as well have 100 links on 1 page.

10/ Unique domain – If you have links on www.widgets.com and also a subdomain (even if its a different server) red.widgets.com, then really its still diluting the value of the links.

11/ rel=”nofollow” – Its best if this tag isn’t in the source code otherwise search engines don’t count the link at all.

If you can find 20 quality links that fit the points mentioned, you definitely see much better progress in your link building campaigns compared to 1000 spammy links. Organic link growth is always best. Keep in mind, Im not trying to encourage you to buy links here.

Author:  Eric Cho is the owner of Search Engine Marketing Hints and runs a number of successful health websites. He is also involved with websites in the travel and home loans industry.

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