What is a Quality Link and Where Do They Come From?
As we discussed in the last lesson, one of the most important SEO concepts we need to understand is that of Authority. Not all links are created equal! Again, this means that 1 link from an authoritative site can equal 1000 links from low quality sites.
Links from more authoritative sites can me more difficult to get, but because they are more difficult to get, getting them gives us an extreme advantage over our competitors. So in this lesson, we are going to discuss what constitutes a high quality link vs a low quality link.
In short, the factors that constitute a quality link are Authority and Relevancy. Let’s talk about how to understand these two concepts so that we can apply them to link building in the future lessons.
Evaluating Page Authority
Reconstructing search engine algorithms yourself would be quite a task. Fortunately, there are a few companies who have done the work for you and make their work easily accessible. I most often use SEOmoz’s Toolbar which gives two key metrics: Page Authority and Domain Authority.
Similar to Google’s Page Rank (PR) (which you can/should ready about here), SEOmoz also gives a metric of authority. Whereas Google’s PR ranks from 0 to 10, SEOmoz’s Moz Rank (mR) also ranges 0 to 10, however they also give great authority metrics on a scale of 1-100 for both Page Authority from Domain Authority so that you can see at a glance that overall authority of both a page and the domain that makes up the Moz Rank.
Here’s what it looks like.
It’s important to note here that links come from pages not sites. This is why this toolbar gives you both Page Authority and Domain Authority. The lower the mR, PA, and DA, the lower quality of the site and therefore the lower the quality of the link you’re going to get.
Personally, I like to try to get link from domains that have a DA of at least 30 in order to maximize my efforts. The top blog I’ve seen in the MLM industry has a DA of 60 and most of the other top blogs in our industry are between 45 & 50. But again, the higher the better as long as the link is relevant… which brings us to the next point.
Relevancy is easy to understand because it’s common sense. If a web page has an article about sports, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for it to link to another page about office furniture right? Office furniture simply isn’t relevant to sports and Google is getting better and better at rewarding websites that have relevant links rather than irrelevant ones.
This means that as you start to look for opportunities for links, you’ll generally want to look for links from relevant sites. The more relevant a web page is to the web page you’re linking to, the better and thus relevancy is the second factor in identifying a quality link. Quality links have high relevancy.
Now that you understand the two factors that make up a quality link, here are some questions you should ask as you start to explore sites in your niche that might be potential “link targets” – that is, sites that you might be able to get a link from. These questions flow out of the two factors we just looked at, and I’ve included some explanations as well.
- Does this site offer value to it’s visitors? – If the site is lit up like Vegas with ads that make it difficult to read the content, you might just want to steer clear. The same goes for if the site has a terrible layout that is frustrating to navigate or use, has obviously broken code, or is so ugly you can’t stand it. These could be (but are not always) indicators of a low quality site.
- What is the authority of this site’s domain? Is it high enough to warrant my efforts? (Even when you’re just getting started, you don’t have to settle for crappy links so shoot for the moon and use your time wisely.)
- If I get a link from this site, what is the likely page authority of the page that my link will be on? (Directories for example, often put links deep within the directory tree so while the DA might be 80 the page your site will be on could be a PA 3.) Is this PA adequate to warrant my efforts?
- Is this site relevant in any way to my site or to the particular page I’d like a link to?
- Does it seem natural for this site to link to my site?
Answering these questions will be a great start to identifying which sites we want to get links from.
For homework, install the SEOmoz toolbar. Once installed, do a search in Google for a keyword related to your niche + “blog” (ex network marketing blog) and go through some of the sites that come up and watch how the toolbar stats change as you go through the site. Notice which pages tend to have higher numbers and which have lower numbers. Next, do the same thing with some of your favorite sites. The more you can get a feel for how these numbers work, the better.