While links are arguably one of the most important ranking factors around, not all links are created equal. There are millions of sites you could potentially get an inbound link from, but should you? Not every website is going to give you a link that provides real SEO value for your site.
Here are three questions you should ask yourself when trying to understand the potential SEO value of a link:
1. Is this a site where my target audience hangs out?
Links are valuable for two main reasons. First off, the more quality links a site has pointing towards it the more valuable it becomes in the eyes of the search engines. Secondly, every inbound links serves as a potential doorway to your site. You want to get links on sites that your target audience routinely visits because you are more likely to drive a targeted visitor through to your site. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many links your site has if all your traffic bounces out (meaning they aren’t your target market) as soon as they land.
2. Is this a trusted/respected site?
While having a large link portfolio is important, real link value relates to the site you are getting that link from. Each site has a certain amount of trust with the search engines. They pass a tiny piece of that trust (aka link juice) along to each site they link to via the link. It’s is much more valuable in the long run to accrue fewer links from large, well-respected and trusted sites than it is to get hundreds of links for spam blogs or link farms. You also want to stick to US based sites as much as possible.
The search engines are smart and they know that spammers and black hat SEO practitioners are trying to game the algorithms. Sites that rely too heavily on low quality, spammy links could find themselves penalized and removed from the search engines entirely!
3. Can I build a relationship with this site that goes beyond the link?
If you play your cards right, there is much more long term value to be had than just getting one more inbound link. Let’s say you are leaving a comment on an industry blog. Can you become a regular commenter so the blog owner starts to remember your name? Can you have conversations with them in the comment field? Can you approach them to write a guest blog post or ask them to review your latest whitepaper? Think big with your link building!