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Henrik Bondtofte

How to Evaluate Whether a Link is Worth Your Time

Henrik Bondtofte
How to Evaluate Whether a Link is Worth Your Time

You have probably come across websites that link to pages that remind you of yours several times, and you think that your link should be there as well. But how do you evaluate whether it’s worth it, or whether you should stay away completely? There are a number of factors you should be aware of before you venture out and try to get a link and I will be covering them in this post.

Bad Neighborhood

You first want to look at the other pages the site links out to:

  • Are they good quality pages?
  • Do you think the pages are comparable to yours?
  • Is the content high quality?
  • Is the visual presentation good?

Google also evaluates your website based on who you are most often mentioned with on the Internet, and this is also one of the reasons you shouldn’t just go out and copy your competitors’ links. First of all, it might not be good for you to be mentioned with them but you might also copy links that are actually harmful.

In addition, you should do a quick check of the link profile of each page to determine whether they have manipulative link profiles. If several of them have that, you shouldn’t be compared to these pages because that can directly affect Google’s assessment of you. It is quick and easy to do by putting URLs into a tool such as ahrefs.com or the backlink profile on SEMrush. That of course requires that you know how to identify manipulative link profiles. If you follow this blog or have read my book, it should be fairly easy for you to evaluate this by spot checking a few URLs.

The Domain and the Link Profile of the Page

You should check the number and the quality of the links that point to the domain. At the same time, you should check how many and what kind of inbound links there are to the page you want a link from. You can use this to evaluate whether it is a popular page and that is also what determines the value the link can pass to your site.

You should also check the number of inbound internal links. That says something about how important that particular page is to the website. The more internal links the more important the page must be for the owner of the website – otherwise there wouldn’t be so many links to it. You might want to check a couple of other pages on the domain to have something to compare to.

Several internal links also mean more internal value that can be passed externally to your website via a link.

The Age of the Domain

How long has the website existed? The longer it has existed, the more beneficial it will be for you to get your hands on a link – all things being equal. The age of a domain will probably affect page authority and thereby its vote (the link), that points to you. It is therefore generally best to get links from pages that have existed for a long time. Often, pages that have existed for a long time also have a broader link profile.

There is nothing wrong with links from new websites, but usually you’ll get the most out of links from older websites. In addition, there is also a greater chance that an older website will still be there tomorrow, and thus, your time and effort making contact with the site are better investments.

Is the Page Indexed?

If you haven’t found the page in question via Google, it’s important that you check to see if the page is indexed. If it isn’t indexed, there is no point in getting a link from that page. Google won’t see it and therefore won’t see your link either. So Google won’t be able to pass any value to your website. A page may not be indexed because the website has received some kind of penalty and in that case, you certainly don’t want to receive a link from it, since that could actually be harmful.

The Number of Links on the Page

The more outbound links the page has, the less value it holds for you. Therefore, it is always preferable to receive links from pages with as few outbound links as possible.

There are of course a lot of exceptions to the rule, and in general you shouldn’t say no to a link just because there are too many links. But it will affect the strength of the link you receive so you should keep that in mind when considering whether it is worth your time and effort. Any page that is indexed by Google has a certain amount of value it can give, which is based on the website’s overall value and then distributed to subpages.

In addition, there is also the number and the quality of the external links that point to the page. There are many examples of pages that reciprocate by linking back. So for the pages that receive outbound links, something comes in and something else goes out, and then it can suddenly become an attractive link, even if there are a lot of outbound links. It’s best if you don’t have to link in return.

Where on the Page Can You Get a Link?

It matters greatly where you can get your link placed. The value of a link varies greatly depending on its position. In general, the best position for a link is above the fold in a content article. The link should also be obvious. The more obvious it is, the better it is for you.

If your link is obvious it tells Google something about how important it is to the sender to refer to your website. If you are offered a link in the footer of a page the value will be tiny compared to a link above the fold. If it is a long list with different outbound links, it is also much better to be at the top of the list than at the bottom.

Styling of the Link

As I just explained, the visibility of a link says a lot about how much value is attributed to it. So it makes a difference whether your link is a normal text formatted link or whether it is put into a header tag to capture the reader. A dream link would be placed in a large red h1 tag, so that it would be hard to miss it. Realistically, though, that is hard to obtain on most websites. If it is an image link, it would be more advantageous to have a large image rather than a small image. Visibility is everything, and Google of course looks at that.

Anchor Texts for the Other Outbound Links

Do they link out with natural anchor texts or is the link to Bank of America marked with the text “cheap, cheap loans?” You should avoid pages that link out with anchor texts that are too optimized. It is most likely some kind of spam site put up by someone working for the competitors you may have bumped into.

In general, you should try to completely avoid dictating the anchor text for links you go out and get. Play with anchor texts on properties you control and where you can change them later, if they become a problem.

Nofollow, JavaScript, Redirect

How the link is formatted means everything. If links are marked as nofollow, they are basically of no value to you, so you should only go after the link if you are pretty sure it will actually bring in visitors.

The same is true for JavaScript links and sneaky redirects. Any value passed would be minimal. Google can read them and find your page. But it is really hard to say if they are passing any value. So, don’t spend too much time and energy on it unless you think it could bring some good visitors to your website.

Does the Page Sell Links or is the Content Poor?

If you can tell that these links are sold links you need to be really careful. It can actually be worth it to invest in sold links, but if it is possible for you to decode them and see that these links must be bought links, then Google will also be able to reach the same conclusion and you should stay away. It may cause problems for both the seller’s website and for yours as well!

It is also important that the content is good. If we are talking about spun texts or content that doesn’t make much sense for a user, or in other words – if the page doesn’t give any value, don’t try to get a link from it!

Inveterate SEO specialist at his own company Bondtofte.dk and author of “Linkbuildingbogen”, Denmark’s only book on the subject of link building. He blogs regulary on Henrik-bondtofte.dk, if your Danish is up to par.

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