Ever since Google's Penguin algorithm update was pushed out last April, website owners have been running scared of link building. Links are still very much the bread and butter of SEO -- but what Penguin 1.0 and 2.0 have shown us is that the quality is far more important than quantity when it comes to your link building profile.
But what constitutes a "quality" link? It's not always so easy to tell, especially when you are under pressure to beef up your link profile and clean up past actions that might have landed you in hot water.
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Here are four questions site owners can ask themselves when evaluating the quality of a link:
Is the link relevant to my website or industry?
Relevancy is important when it comes to link building because search engines can see each and every one of those inbound links that point back towards your site -- and can judge whether or not those links are appropriate. The search engines are advanced enough to ask, "If you are B2B marketing consultant, why are you building links from dog groomers?"
- If there is no reason for your two sites to link to each other so clearly, obviously you are more concerned about building up the number of links in your link profile and not the quality of those links. This could get you flagged for webspam and land you in hot water with Penguin. There should always be some level of relevancy between your site and those sites you are looking to get links from.
Could this link potentially drive targeted traffic to my site?
One of the best ways to protect your site from a search engine penalty is to never place a link for the sake of linking. Such an action prioritizes the search engines over your actual, human visitors. Don't ask yourself "will this link help me rank better?" Instead, ask "will this link send me traffic?"
- When you build quality links on relevant sites you're bound to get some visitors from time to time. Each one of those referral links becomes an entry point into your site.
- Building a lot of referral links also helps protect your website because you aren't relying solely on the search engines to keep your business afloat.
Would I ever link out to this site?
This is probably one of the easiest ways to judge the quality of a link. If you wouldn't link out to this site from your own website or blog as a resource for your visitors why on Earth would a want a link from them?
- Your website is judged by the company it keeps. If you aren't willing to send visitors and link juice to a certain site, why would you want that site to have links pointing to you?
Do I trust this site and the people behind it?
Would you give this website your credit card information? Your phone number? Your home address? If you can't trust a website and the people behind it to play by the rules and treat their own visitors with care you probably don't want a link from them.
- Even if your site is not directly penalized by an algorithm update, your SEO can still suffer because the sites sending you links were penalized. If 30% of your link profile is devalued -- there goes 30% of your own SEO power.
At the end of the day, if you have to justify a link to yourself or anyone else, or look at it through rose-colored glasses it's probably not the kind of quality link you're looking for.
Bio: Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com), a Boston-area SEO marketing solutions company. With over 13 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his SEO knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 120,000 opt-in subscribers. Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org