The current cool aid for all of us to drink as link builders and SEOs is the "link bait" flavor – and rightfully so. Creating quality content or content that others will share and link to or embed on their own websites is a powerful and natural way to build quality backlinks. Link development is still a viable means for attaining important backlinks as well and a targeted SEO link building campaign can achieve massive results, even in competitive niches. And while we cannot always control who links to our website, we can control which sites we develop and build links on.
The days of quantity and power in link building are over. Now we must look for relevancy and authority as measured by various aspects of the Google algorithm. But how do we apply this to the sites we are looking at building links on and what are some of the most important metrics to judge a site by?
The Relation Of A Website's Niche, Page, And Text Content To Your Primary Keyword
While none of the metrics I list here have a certain order, I would tend to list relevancy towards the top. When assessing a link building opportunity, looking at the relevancy and relation of the overall website to your website, or at least, to the page you are linking to on your website is of key importance. Better yet, a link from a relevant website, from a relevant page on that website, wrapped in contextually relevant content.
How A Particular Page Or Website Is Seen By Its Peers And The Internet In General
On one hand this is a bit of a more obscure metric and on the other hand it is not. You can look at tools for trust like MozTrust or SEO Majestic's trust flow measurement and these give you a good idea of the quality of inbound links (and therefor trust) that are coming into a particular site or page. While trust is somewhat vague and does blend into some of the other metrics, it is increasingly becoming one of the most important factors in a websites strength of ranking.
The Age Of A Domain That You Are Building A Link From
There are varying opinions on the importance of domain age when it comes to ranking. In my own experience, I have seen time and time again that older domains perform better in general. I have also seen that backlinks from older domains seem to carry more weight at times than links from newer sites. While not a deal breaker, the age of the domain or webpage (the older the better) is something I take into consideration when developing backlinks.
Does The Website Have An Established Presence In Social Media?
This is something that relates to the next metric and gives an indication of its validity: is the website a real business? Having at least social presence, if not an active social presence, is an indication that you are dealing with an operational website. A website that has its own purpose and activity and not just a site for links or a content black hole. A link from a website with social presence holds more value and reflects the authenticity of that website's existence.
Is The Website You Are Developing A Backlink On An Actual Business?
It's funny that we have to look at this question, but it is increasingly important. In Google's push to rid the internet of spammy websites, it has become increasingly important to have links to and from other websites that are real businesses. Does the website have a brand, a logo, a phone number or address? Do they show up in Dmoz or other directories? In the same way you want to show Google that you are a legitimate business with a good reason for having and internet presence, you want backlinks from other websites like this.
Does The Backlink Profile Of The Page Or Website You Are Linking From Reflect Authority?
The link profile of a page you are considering developing links on is a good way to assess the worthiness of building those links. While it used to be all about PR and OBL numbers, the quality of the inbound links coming into a particular page is of key importance. A page with trusted inbound links – no matter the domain authority or PageRank – is almost always going to have more trust than any other page. Looking at the site age, social presence, trust, and relevancy of the sites that are linking to the page you want to develop a link on is an excellent way to assess the inbound link profile. I'll take trusted links all day long over inflated PR links that will adjust down in the coming Google updates.
Putting Your Link Development Strategy Together
If you look at the points I've mentioned as rules, you might have a hard time developing a sustainable link building program. They are meant more as guidelines or a reference when assessing the value of a link. Obviously business citations on directory sites aren't going to have some of the qualities I've listed, but they will have others. Link Development is about
outreach, relationships, networking, and good old fashioned creativity. As long as your website is operating under similar principals to this post, you will have no problem finding solid link building opportunities.