The 5 Most Important Metrics You Need To Use When Building Quality Links
It is not the number but rather the quality of links pointing to a site.
As far as the link building business is concerned, there is not one supreme yardstick that decides whether the links I build are of high quality. In fact, there are several metrics that many practitioners consider during the process, each one able to help me identify whether the sites I build relationships with and prospecting as partners will be worth the effort.
Also, as Google’s Webmaster guidelines become more stringent by the day, with all the new algorithms and subsequent updates, the search engine giant we are a trying to win the favor of is also becoming more determined to maintain only the links built on a substantial foundation and penalize those that violate the standards. Google Penguin alone is notorious for scraping Google’s search index for spammy sites and those that employ black hat SEO techniques. Now that the Hummingbird is added to Google’s guardians, the search engine is presumed to uphold their guidelines in a stricter manner.
But sometimes, you can be a little too overwhelmed with the wealth of information you get from the Internet and industry peers on how to do link building properly and effectively. Nearly every link builder has his or her own preferred touchstone when looking for ideal sites to give and receive traffic from, but it’s only a matter of what works for you and your own website. Listed below are the five essential metrics that I believe to be indispensable when building links.
1. Page Relevancy
Before a page’s relevancy became the standard that it is now, a different PR was considered to be a more important link building metric—the PageRank. Back then, Google would evaluate a site according to its compliance with the Webmaster Guidelines until page relevancy became the new PR. The relevance of a page helps Google judge a website where it should land in the search engine results page (SERPs) by determining certain elements in its pages such as trust, context or topics, and its relevance to a query.
When it comes to relevancy, one of the practices frowned upon by Google is the slew of links directed to sites with irrelevant domains. While one or two of unrelated domain names can be tolerated, several of these can cause your site to register as suspicious, or worse, be penalized by Google. Thus, it is crucial that you only build links with sites that bear a relatively high authority and whose link patterns are trustworthy. You can begin by choosing only the sites whose domains are relevant to their topics as well as with yours. Sites that claim to be authoritative and have the numbers to show for it are also the ones who bother with creating and publishing respective guides on their industry and niche. Having this type of materials is a good sign, apart from the high quality content pieces that should be on the site by default.
Other indicators of relevancy you should look for in a site are curated content, free tools, in-depth reviews, and guest content from authoritative industry peers.
2. Domain Authority
Instituted by SEO pillar Moz, Domain Authority (DA) is one of the best gauges a link builder can use when judging how a website is faring in the search engine rankings scene. A website’s domain authority tells you its “strength” based on several trust metrics employed by Moz itself. These include number of total links, linking root domains, and two of Moz’s signature metrics which are MozRank and MozTrust. Moz takes all of these criteria along with Google’s algorithms to come up with an accurate value of a website as per Google rankings.
On the other hand, a website’s DA can also fluctuate and this depends on how consistent a site is in maintaining a good performance. To make it easier for link builders to identify a website’s domain authority, Moz created a specific toolbar called the MozBar which you can download from their site. You can also determine a site’s DA using Open Site Explorer.
Based on the stringent metrics used in determining a site’s DA, it’s only logical that this particular number isn’t easily manipulated. As Google also takes into account the DA of sites when gauging the strength of a site, a site’s DA should be as accurate as possible in order to for it to sanction a fair page relevancy ranking.
Page relevancy may have stolen some light from PageRank but it doesn’t mean that the latter is of no value anymore. Before the relevancy of webpages became a big deal, PageRank was what Google used to determine the strength of a site. Now, it’s being used for other purposes, primarily for helping Google index the websites in its massive library. It also helps Google identify a crawl priority and crawl depth of a site, determine original sources of duplicate pieces of content, and select preliminary results prior to another bout of ranking that will be based on other metrics.
4. DoFollow And NoFollow Links
DoFollow links are the ones integrated with a special HTML markup that will tell search engines to follow wherever that link leads. However, a normal link is not the same with a DoFollow link even if it technically leads to a different page or website. NoFollow Links, on the other hand, also employ a particular HTML markup that tells search engines to not follow where the link leads.
The question is whether you should both, just one, or not at all. Both techniques have their own merits mostly because they can help you manage the traffic that your site receives and directs.
DoFollow Links are good for the traffic generated both by search engine optimization practitioners and human users. They are among the several factors that Google considers when gauging the credibility of a website. One way of putting it is that the more relevant DoFollow Links a website has, it’s highly likely that search engines would consider it authoritative. These sites are the ones you’d want to build links with. When you’ve successfully linked your site to them, you can also benefit from the link juice they are getting. This entails that you link only to the sites that are pertinent to your niche.
Alternatively, NoFollow Links can still be good for your website especially when preventing spammy links. It is common for website administrators to set their forums and comments to register the links as NoFollow by default. This way, they can avoid potentially spammy links that users supply in the comments since Google will automatically skip on checking the links that have the “nofollow” tag on them. While NoFollow Links do not generate link juice, they can help you in controlling irrelevant links from associating your site with irrelevant ones.
5. Anchor Text
Indisputably one of the crucial metrics used in link building, the use of anchor text has seen several varieties and are used alternately by many experts. An anchor text is the series of words or characters displayed by the hyperlinks which direct either the user or the search engine to where that link leads, be it another website or an online document. In the past, keywords have served as ideal anchor texts and they remain relative up to the present. However, the changes in Google’s algorithms also established the use of longer key phrases that look natural so that websites don’t simply rack up on keywords that they want to rank for.
Anchor texts can come in form of a brand name, generic anchors such as “here” and “this site”, naked URLs, and titles of content pieces. Assuming that the anchor text used by the sites you want to build links with are natural and placed appropriately, it is likelier for them to generate good traffic without risking keyword stuffing. You also need to keep in mind that for a good anchor text to fit in perfectly, you need to create phrases or sentences that observe proper transition and calls to action.
Internal links are underappreciated in passing link equity throughout the site. Implementing breadcrumbs (especially to e-commerce sites) will increase the page authority to the deeper pages.
While these five are what I personally consider essential to link building, you need to remember that other practitioners still employ other metrics. On another note, bear in mind that if you’re busy assessing sites based on these criteria, it’s highly likely that they’re doing the same for your site so it’s important that you maintain a high quality website in terms of content, web design, UX, and the application of search engine optimization techniques.
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