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What's In A Link?

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There are good links and bad links. So how do you get good links? And how do you steer clear of bad links?

Many SEO Specialists have a love-hate relationship with links. And understandably so; good links are hard to find and bad links can bring negative consequences that have a tendency to linger.

To be sure you are going about link building the right way, you need to know what to look for in a good link. Have no fear. We’ve prepared a cheat sheet for you! Read on!

Aim for Links on High-Authority, Credible Domains:

Domain authority is essentially a measurement of a website’s ability to rank highly in search engine results pages. It is based on a number of factors, but mainly, the score is determined by a combination of a domain's age, size, and popularity (or the number of reputable links pointing to the domain). If a domain scores well with each of these factors, search engines tend make the assumption that it is a trustworthy website. You know the saying: You are who you hang out with. A bunch of links to or from spammy websites with low trust scores sends a signal to Google that maybe you’re a little bit sketchy too. Be selective when deciding who you'll link to. 

Keep it Relevant:

Links need to add value. A link from a fashion blogger won’t mean anything if your website sells office supplies. Linking content needs to be relevant to your website content. Best practice? Only seek out links that make sense contextually. Anything else and search engines will question your motives.

Don’t Abuse Them:

Link quantity matters only to the extent that they are all of high quality. A million spammy links will always lose to 10 high quality links from a diverse range of well trusted websites. Search engines will become apprehensive if they begin to detect one certain website pointing multiple links at your domain. 

Link Trading:

You have a website and your great aunt has a website. Here’s an idea: Why not trade links with each other for a mutual benefit? It’s a win-win situation, right? Wrong. Though it may first seem like a great idea to give-and-take links from those in your network, search engines are smarter than that. They recognize when links are not naturally earned, and unfortunately, this practice will probably end up harming both websites involved. As we mentioned above, quality and diversity are key. 

Keyword Stuffing Anchor Text:

Keywords used to be a huge deal. Not that they aren’t important now, because they are, but in the earlier days of SEO, strategies were extremely keyword-focused. A popular, and once effective, way to improve rankings for a given keyword was to “optimize” (keyword stuff) link anchor text with keyword heavy content. This probably won't work anymore, and you should only include keywords in your anchor text if you can do so in a way that doesn’t compromise the content's readability. But if you’re sporadically working keywords into anchor text in a nonsensical way, don’t expect a pat on the back from Google. 

Context is Key:

A link needs context, and you can provide context through quality page content. This point should go without saying, as it kind of plays into the “Keep it Relevant” bullet, but think of it this way: if you don’t have content to begin with, how can you create relevancy? A page full of standalone links with no surrounding content or semantic explanation of why they are there in the first place isn’t going to do anything for you. And if you’re getting a lot of these kinds of links from other sources, you should probably consider having them removed.

Link Schemes:

Above all else, don't buy links. If you are paying for links, it’s a very real possibility that your website could be dropped from search results. This is one practice you should never-ever-ever dabble with. If you’re willingly taking part in a link scheme, then you might as well save Google the trouble and no-index your own website. Once Google picks up on your participation, and they will, you’ll drop out of results anyway. Pro tip? Just don’t do it.


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