The basic principle behind generating page and domain authority is rather simple. The more links that lead to your page or site, the more authority it will generate. However, there is a lot of finesse and different elements are involved in the whole process, and if you approach the matter recklessly, you might end up being labeled as a black hat denizen of the World Wide Web. Furthermore, if you solely rely on link juice to boost your authority, you might not get the desired results.
We have previously discussed how to create rank worthy content, and how RankBrain and other updates, seated at Google’s core, analyze content and discern ranking signals. Now, it’s time to tackle another important issue, or to be precise, to explore the attributes that affect link value. There are more than 20 elements of course, and there are probably some aspects we are not even aware of, but it’s safe to say that those listed here are usually the ones we worry about.
So, here’s the list of 20 elements that influence link value, and we will also explain the degree of their importance.
Anchor Text – Level of Importance: Moderate
Anchor texts have value, and it can score some positive points for your page if the text corresponds to the linked content. However, your link still has value, even if it’s not matched with a perfect anchor text. In other words, you should not hesitate to link something just because you cannot create an anchor text that fits in naturally with the rest of the text. If you can get the link without the desired anchored text, never hesitate to do so.
Pagerank – Level of Importance: Low
First of all, Google’s PageRank tool has been dead for quite some time, so they are probably using different metrics to ascertain the accurate rank for a particular page. You can use other tools to check the pagerank, but again, it’s not that important really. The reason for its low importance is because pages that are yet to be published, or have been recently published, have very low authority. It’s far more important to have your link on a site with a high domain authority, or a site that shares topic relevance.
Follow vs No-follow – Level of importance: High
It’s pretty straightforward. Follow links generate better value in terms of authority, whereas no-follows can only be used to generate traffic. Still, you should have both. Your site will look more legit and it’ll have better traffic, which is always a good thing. However, for better rankings, you should have great number of follow links on sites that are legit. This is of great importance.
Domain Authority – Level of Importance: High
Domain authority is extremely important. If you are able to have a link on a site with a high domain authority, you should definitely pursue that option. First off, even if your link is “nofollow” (doesn’t give you link juice), places with high domain authority should still be of interest to you. High domain authority means that there are a lot of people on that site, thus your link is very likely to be seen. Moreover, if your site has a high domain authority, it means that Google trusts it more, thus a “follow” link on such a site has greater value.
Relevance – Level of Importance: Moderate
Truth be told, there is no tool to help you measure just how a certain page is relevant for your site, therefore, you’ll have to find this out on your own. However, it doesn’t mean that you do not get any value from sites that are seemingly irrelevant for your niche. Basically, if you write about dog food, you are free to link it on fashion blogs, or tech blogs, as long as you manage to steer the topic in a way that would be relevant. It may not exactly reach your target audience, but in terms of link value, you’ll be able to get some points.
Location on Page – Level of Importance: Low
This should have no impact on link value whatsoever, but in some instances, it can actually harm you. For example, if your link is by some chance in the footer, or in the advertising section, or even in the sidebar, Google might perceive it as fishy, and you might get negative points. As far as the text is concerned, it’s completely irrelevant where you’ll place it. In case your objective is to bring as many people as possible to your site, it could be wiser to have the link in the upper or middle section of an article.
External Links vs Internal Links – Level of Importance: High
This one is really important and probably the most obvious. Links that lead to your site page from other sites, or external links, have a far greater importance. Links from your site that lead to your page are internal and do not have any significant value, but they can still count. Therefore, these are not useless. Feel free to use both.
Quality of other links on that page – Level of Importance: High
You can inspect this one on your own, or find a tool that measures your spam score. Either way, be on the lookout. If a certain page is free for all, and anyone can link anything in their content, then it would be best to avoid such sites. Check the other links before, and as long as they have quality leads and are legit, your link should be alright. If other links on page appear shady, don’t bother; just skip the site.
Editorial Integrity – Level of Importance: Moderate
It’s hard to say yet just how important a role this factor will play, but it is strongly believed that Google will start to measure sites based on editorial integrity. It’s probably possible to measure how people reacted to a particular site and get an accurate assessment of the content that dwells there, so be mindful of your editorial integrity.
User Engagement – Level of Importance: High
It is extremely important, but it’s hard to measure precisely. Sites with greater user engagement will be beneficial to a great extent, since users will likely click on your link as well. Unfortunately, before you have your link there, you cannot know with certainty whether users are truly engaged. You should use tools to check which links in particular are sending you the most traffic.
Additionally, if the site ranks well, if its posts get a lot of shares, it is commonly a good sign and it indicates a high degree of engagement. In fact, ranking is closely related to user engagement and user experience. So, if a site has good rankings, try to get your links there, regardless of their type (follow or no-follow).
Source Depth – Level of Importance: Low
This used to matter more in the past. Now, it’s really not that important. Google crawls the web efficiently, so it’s safe to say that everything is adequately assessed. Before, pages that were closer to the homepage, or had fewer links leading away from it, got crawled more frequently, so source depth had more value, but now, it’s almost irrelevant.
Text vs. Image – Level of Importance: Low
This one is entirely up to you, since the value that text has over images is almost non-existent. In the event that you feel an image can get more clicks than a text, go for the image; if you think text is more likely to bring you traffic, go with text.
Page/Link Age – Level of Importance: Low
It seems that the age of the link or the age of the page doesn’t affect the value of your link at all, maybe to a small degree, but it’s hard to tell. In fact, it seems that a link on a new and fresh page can outperform old ones. Plus, when the content is fresh, it has better chances of generating traffic. In other words, no need to worry about this issue.
Topical Authority – Level of Importance: Moderate
As mentioned in the “relevance” section, it’s somewhat better if your link is located on a site that is closely connected to your topic. So, if you are writing about dog food, and find sites that have greater topic relevance in the area of pet food, or pet tips etc, your link will have better value. You can do various searches and see which sites appear in the top 10 results, or you can use tools to measure topic relevancy; whatever you find more reliable.
Spam Signals – Level of Importance: High
It’s quite obvious why you should be on the lookout for sites with a high spam score. It was pointed out that you should avoid shady sites, or pages that are free for all. Check out the links on the site. It can be quite obvious if the site is not trustworthy. You can also use tools to ascertain the spam score of a particular site, so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll link something there, unintentionally.
Link Acquisition Speed – Level of Importance: Low
As long as you do things by the book, using white-hat SEO that is manipulation and spam free, there is no reason to be concerned about the speed of link acquisition. You can go fast, and slow down afterwards, or vice versa. As long as your links do not look forced, and as long as there is not a sudden massive spike in links that lead to your site, you have nothing to worry about.
Author Authority – Level of Importance: Low/Moderate
An author’s authority is not really important from an SEO perspective. However, if you look at it from an influence perspective, it does have greater value. If you can get an influencer to do a piece on you or on your site, or to feature your link as part of their content, it can be extremely helpful. In other words, it’s not something to be overlooked or neglected as a part of your campaign.
More than one link points to the same page in HTML – Level of Importance: Low
Even though only one, or the first link, will pass the anchor text and ranking signals for a particular page, it doesn’t mean that the second one will be useless. It’s not something you should often practice, and it would just look ridiculous if all links in a given text point to the same source. However, if you can link the same page twice, and it fits in completely naturally in the text, there is no good reason not to do it.
There are more chances for you to get traffic and to get more exposure. However, it was stated that it’s good for a page to have more links that lead to trustworthy places. If one link will suffice, there’s no reason to go overboard.
Domain diversity vs. Domain quality – Level of Importance: Moderate
Five years ago, domain diversity used to matter more, but now, it would be better to focus on domain quality. Getting links from high domain sites, with greater topic relevancy, trumps the magnitude of links that come from low authority diverse domains. Furthermore, if links from authoritative sites lead to you, it reflects well on your own credibility. It’s not something you should be overly concerned with, but it is an issue that warrants some thought.
Throughout the text, we mentioned the use of tools, to help you with determining some parameters like spam signals, domain authority, etc. Here are some tools you can use to help you with this:
- Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs – You can use them to track backlinks, anchor texts, brand mentions, etc. that lead to your site and find out if there are any links that can harm your reputation.
- MozRank and MozBar – Use it to track page authority, domain authority, spam score, link popularity, etc.
- SimilarWeb – It can come in handy if you need to figure out the level of user engagement on a certain website, or to figure out the traffic of your competitors.
- Screaming Frog – You can crawl websites URLs to acquire some of the important onsite elements that you can analyze for SEO purposes.
- Wayback Machine – Helps you determine the age of a certain page or the age of a link that is on that page.
- SEMrush – Use it to inspect all the keywords a particular site ranks for, and to check its performance.
Hopefully, this will clear up a lot of misconceptions related to link value, and help you organize your link building strategy.