Back Links have always been a massively important aspect of SEO. Getting sites to link back to yours, or your clients, has always been a challenge too, one that was seen as part of the optimization game. As algorithm updates have increased in their ferocity, and expectations on Google have also gone up, the question often asked is, “What is a good link nowadays?” What, indeed?
We are not going to go through every website online to explain, which ones are good places to link from, and which are bad, for obvious reasons. There are, however, three things that all links should encompass if they are to hold a value for your site, and enhance its status with the search engines.
The 3 Amigos
Uno. What authority does the site you are link from have? You can use various tools to decipher a sites Domain authority, or DA. Many use Seo Moz’s tools for this. The authority of a site is made up from a complex web of information. A good guide will to see how many keywords it ranks on page one for and how competitive those keywords are. PR is no longer much use as a guide to a sites value. It can show you the link “power” of a site, but not how well regarded it is by the search engines. PR is easy to falsify as well. Ten PR6 sites all linking to each other, yet ranking nowhere in someone’s blog network will not pass on much authority if linked to you.
Dos. What traffic does the site get, and also, what traffic will your link get through that site? Google does not like links that do not pass on traffic. Many links, in the “old days”, were created on article sites or blog networks to be “just links”. Google rumbled this, and now looks very closely at what traffic is passed through a link, and through the site being linked from. Traffic also helps develop a sites DA too. The idea is that you will now only post your link on sites that have good traffic. They will only have good traffic if they have users who are seeing and reading things that are useful to them. See what they did here? Instantly only quality content is going to hold onto these readers, and link creation for the sake of it takes a tumble.
Tres. Is the site niche related? Are you trying to post content on a site that has absolutely nothing to do with your website? If so how are you going to gain any useful traffic, or supply any useful content? What is the point of that link? Again in the “old days”, people just wanted links and the more the merrier. There were blogs created that had no particular subject base, but were great to write something for and get a link. Those sites tended to be spam filled and of no real value to the internet user. How are you going to gain authority and traffic as an electrician trying to gain a link from a dog grooming blog? This helps to keep people focused on trying to contribute something useful to their own business platform, rather than just trying to gain an easy link from a totally irrelevant medium.
The question now really is, do you need all three? I would say yes. For a link to be any value to your business, certainly for the long term, it really does have to be able to offer niche relation, traffic and come from a site that is an authority within its own niche. All three points really lead into each other. You can’t have one without the other. A site with good traffic will have authority. It will need to be niche related to offer your site any value at all. Google has gotten better at identifying these factors and will rank your site accordingly. It doesn’t take long to check a potential site for these three requirements.
Does this mean you will not get as many links for yours or your clients sites in the future? The answer is, “of course”, but quality will start to win out over quantity, and that is all the search engines want after all. They want quality for their users, and links that go somewhere useful to the users search. Good SEO just got harder for those who are too lazy to build relationships and create useful content to promote.