What Makes a “Good Link” Good?

As I write this, there are many website owners and SEO professionals out there who are having a rough summer due to Google’s algorithm changes. In the aftermath of the Penguin 2.0 update in May, I’m sure they have been evaluating their link profiles to make sure that nothing comes back to haunt them.

The first version of Penguin, released in April 2012, taught us that the quality of your links matters much more than the quantity.  If you played the numbers game in an attempt to outsmart Google’s algorithm, there’s a chance your site was penalized.

Link building for SEO is major, so it’s important that webmasters and search marketers understand what makes a “good” link.  Google certainly isn’t going to come out and define a “good link” for us, as they know the spammers would have a field day figuring out ways to work around it.  However, there are a few qualities that I’m sure of that make a “good link” good:

Relevance

A good link must be relevant to your website and your niche.  A link from a well-trusted legal site really isn’t going to help if you’re a yoga studio.  Sure, you might be happy to have a high-quality link, but what’s it really worth?  You would benefit much more by getting links from legit health and fitness-related sites.

If you’re ever wondering whether a link is relevant or not, ask yourself this: “Would this link actually drive the kind of traffic that I want to my site?  Will it expose my brand to people who are potential clients?”  If the answer is no, this probably isn’t the best link for your site.

Trust

Google trusts authoritative sites that have a proven track record of creating great original content written for real people, rather than for search engines.  Think cnn.com, government sites and edu sites. These trusted sites are not always the biggest around, as small sites can also pack a lot of authority.  A link from a top site in your industry is always awesome, but so can be one from a well-respected blogger within your industry (relevance!). 

Determining the overall trust of a website is not always easy, but here are a few things that can help:

  • A who-is search will tell you the age of a domain, the country it is registered in and to whom it’s registered to.
  • Checking out the PageRank of a website can give you some insight; however don’t rely on this entirely because it doesn’t fully incorporate information regarding quality.
  • Moz (formerly known as SEO Moz) has a browser tool bar that can assess the quality of a domain.  By using the free version of the tool bar, you can see any given site’s domain authority, page authority and “moz rank.”

You should also use you judgment when trying to determine whether a site is trustworthy or not.  If you feel that it looks spammy or suspicious, it could be because it is!

Natural

Google loves Internet nature, and by this, I am NOT referring to videos of wild animals on YouTube. I mean that they love it when a site is so full of great content that people link to it naturally.

Wikipedia is a great example of this.  While the content on there is not necessarily the most accurate, many people don’t realize this.  People often link to Wikipedia because it’s an easy way to provide further explanations to their readers.  Since it’s getting tons of backlinks the natural way, Wikipedia must be a legit site, right?

This, my friends, is why Wikipedia gets so much love from Google and shows up  on the first page for just about anything and everything.

While I will not go into whether I think this is fair or not due to the overall accuracy of Wikipedia content, I will tell you this; If you didn’t already know, anybody can write or edit Wikipedia articles.  My former professor’s 14-year old son use to write Wikipedia articles.

Diversity
It’s best when links to your site come from a variety of different domains and sites.  A thousand links from a single source will most likely be viewed by Google as unnatural.  It would be more beneficial to have 150 links from 25 different sites, as it will appear that there are more sites “recommending” yours.

What Makes a “Good Link” Good? by

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