The Risks and Rewards of Linking Strategies You Know and Love
A well-rounded linking strategy is the best way to build trust in your URL. Without that trust, search engines have little reason to prioritize your website and drive valuable organic traffic to it. How do we know this? A metric called Domain Authority.
Domain Authority is a metric that illustrates how Google ranks and prioritize websites. It was created, and is continually updated and modified, by the real-world findings of SEO professionals. Although it isn’t an exact replica of Google’s algorithms, it provides a way for professionals to test campaigns to learn what to focus on to improve rankings on their sites.
It’s become clear over years of developing and using Domain Authority that search engines value the quality and relevance of inbound links to your site, as well as links from your site. In fact, the value of links seems to be weighed more heavily than all other factors.
Avoid Linking Strategies of the Past
Links have been a factor in organic search rankings since the dawn of search engines. But what has changed is how links are generated and what makes them quality in the eyes of search engines.
Google’s quality guidelines have made fairly clear that some of the old linking strategies are no longer acceptable. Manipulative link profiles, for example, will cause Google to apply a penalty to a site. Unfortunately, recovering from the usage of old linking strategies can take many months or even years — and is a very resource heavy process.
Linking techniques that you should avoid include:
- Forum links
- Blog comment links
- Link farms or link wheels
- Links to or from irrelevant industries, such as gambling sites
By avoiding these types of links you will save yourself from incurring a Google penalty, which could drop your site from Google’s index.
Focus on Developing Relevant and Trustworthy Links
Because Google has gotten better at detecting legitimate links versus links that are meant to manipulate rankings, it has become increasingly important to focus on the quality and relevance of the links rather than the quantity of links.
So how do you gauge the quality of a link?
1. Is it relevant to the market you serve?
2. Are people going to actually click on the link?
3. Is it a site people would feel comfortable giving their credit card to? (This is an actual question used by Google’s human evaluators).
4. Is the link placed in a natural area on the site? For example, can it be seen clearly and is not hidden?
5. Is the anchor text natural? Google now looks at the natural and logical variations in link anchor text. If a business has hundreds of links to their site that all say “Los Angeles apartments” it does not appear natural to search engine algorithms. This will throw up a clear warning sign to their algorithm and will most likely result in a Google penalty. Natural anchor text is varied since a real user will often link to the site in a variety of ways such as “click here for great apartments” or “my favorite apartments in Los Angeles.”