SEO 101: What’s a good link and the importance of making the right connections

Fact: For better or worse links can significantly impact your search performance. While good links are rewarded by Google, bad links can get you into trouble. So the more good links you have pointing towards your web page the better because then Google will perceive them as high quality. Whereas the more bad links on your site that violate Google’s guidelines the more penalties you’ll receive.

In this article we aim to teach you how to spot the difference between a good link and a bad link so you can provide value to your visitors, improve your search rankings and drive targeted organic traffic to your site.

The importance of quality links

Nowadays, Google is pretty strict on the quality of its links. However, this wasn’t always the case. Before the Panda update redefined content quality, everyone would try to get as many links as they could without regard for the quality of those links. Essentially, it was a free-for-all.

But as the search engines have advanced, they’ve been able to expand their link-related signals. They now look at a number of factors which can all combine to give them an indicator of quality, so you really need to start thinking about the quality of your links.

What makes a good link?

1. Relevance

First and foremost, a good link must be relevant. Context is very important in Google’s modern search algorithm and it’s not enough nowadays to just have a link pointing to your site; that link needs to be associated with content that’s somehow relevant to your site as well.

So keep all your links context-specific and pay close attention to the types of sources you rely on. If you earn a link for a web page that addresses a topic similar to the page it’s pointing to then it’s relevant. And the closer it is to your industry the better. For example, if you run a nail salon, why not try your hand at guest blogging for a health and beauty blog?

2. Trust

Good links come from trustworthy sites, not spammy ones. Also referred to as authority, trust is another important ranking signal used by Google. Measured through PageRank, an algorithm used by Google to rank the importance of websites in its search results, generally the more PageRank a page has, the more trusted it is by Google.

Then there’s TrustRank. Differing from PageRank in that it’s designed to be harder to game if you’re a spammer, it’s also used by Google to calculate trust. So if your link appears on a site with a poor reputation, it could do active harm to your organic search visibility. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to get links from the highest authority sources you can find while avoiding disreputable ones.

3. Diversity

In order to build a strong, robust link profile, you need to diversify your link sources. When we talk about diversity, there are two types we’re referring to:

  1. Diversity of linking domains: Getting your links from lots of different domains, not the same ones over and over again. If Google sees too many links pointing back to your site from a certain domain, they may flag that as suspicious. Whereas if it sees lots of links pointing to your domain from multiple sources, it’ll look more natural.
  2. Diversity of a link type: Getting links from different types of domains. If all your links are coming from web directories, for example, that isn’t very diverse. Rather, a natural link profile will contain links from many different types of websites.

4. Placement

The location of a link on a page can also affect the SEO value of it. As a site visitor, whereabouts are you more likely to click on a link? In the middle of the page or in the footer? Probably the middle, right? Google understands this and therefore is able to crawl a site to find the position of a link on a page as a visitor would see it and treat it appropriately.

As a result, side-wide links (i.e. those in the footers and sidebars) don’t carry as much weight as links inside the content (i.e. contextual links). In fact, Google perceives contextual links from relevant and trustworthy sites as significantly valuable and will reward them accordingly.

So don’t isolate your links from any meaningful content. They need to have some kind of semantic context to it and preferably be placed in the body of a detailed, meaningful post. Also keep in mind that links from long-term content tend to drive more organic traffic and therefore rank higher than shorter articles. In fact, SerpIQ found that the top ranked articles on the first page of Google results contain an average of 2,450 words.

Do you need help building a strong, robust link profile that is relevant, trustworthy and diverse? At Bang Digital, we have a team of search experts who are more than capable of helping you improve your search rankings through high quality links. Get in touch today.