When Links Go Bad – Determining Quality Links

Thu, Mar 12, 2009

Link Building

It can be frustrating to check out your competition’s website, or a website that has a complementary product or service to yours, and find they are ranking high while you are barely showing up on the search engine radar. It’s even more frustrating when you apply SEO techniques to your website and still are being outranked by other sites that hit on some of the same keywords that you aim for. So why are they ranking high and you are still struggling? The answer may be because of your links. Not all links to your site are created equal, and if you don’t have enough high quality links your site can really take a hit in the search engine rankings no matter how good your other SEO techniques are.

So let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. First, what makes the worst type of incoming link – ones that the search engines are sure to label as spam and penalize you for? The answer is easy – if you know its spam and it links to you then the search engines know as well. You never want to have links to your site showing up in comment spam on blogs, guestbooks (what quality site nowadays uses a guestbook anyway?) that are known spam holes and link farms. If it’s considered spam stay away from it – plain and simple!

The next type, and unfortunately the one where so many of us have most of our links coming from, is low quality sites. This includes other sites you own (don’t fool yourself, the search engines know what domains you own), reciprocal links (you might fool the search engines for a while, but they will eventually catch on to this one), message board signatures (by all means, mention your site in forums you participate in, but if a majority of your links are coming from forum signatures then you are missing your SEO mark), and junk directories – you know the kind that anyone and their brother can get listed in. Again, it’s not bad to have links in a few of these categories – such as the forums – but if the majority of your links are coming from this category you are going to suffer in the rankings.

Before we move onto the moderate category let’s talk a minute about social media sites. Social media is growing by leaps and bounds; it is the next generation of marketing. So what about links to your site from social media users and profiles? It really depends – it can be a moderate value link or a low quality link. A lot of the major search engines are still trying to nail down an algorithm for handling social media sites, but the general rule is if people are talking about and linking to your site naturally that is a good thing.

Moderate quality links are where most of us would like to get to for the majority of our links. These provide the best value in proportion to the effort it takes to get. Links coming from trusted directories (Yahoo Directory and the Open Source Directory are two good ones), blogrolls and partner sites all fit into this category.

Of course, in an ideal world, you want your links coming from the highest quality sites available out there. Sites such as news sites and trusted editorial sites fall into this category. Just think about it – if a site such as MSNBC or CNN links to you that says a lot about your site, and search engines treat it accordingly. Badges and widgets also fall into this category – which is why it is so important to make them available for your readers; if people are willing to re-syndicate your content through a widget that also says a lot about the site.

So remember that the quality your links plays a critical role in how your site ranks. SEO techniques alone can’t carry you to the top of the listings without investing time and a little bit of legwork into making sure your incoming links are based on quality and not just quantity.

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This post was written by:

Cassiano Travareli - who has written 90 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.

SEO Specialist! Loves everything about Search Engine Marketing.