What Makes A Good Link?

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Digital Marketing   »   Link Building   »   What Makes A Good Link?

The Good, Bad & Ugly Link

So... What Makes A Good Link?

In the early days of SEO, it was the wild west of link building. Anything goes. It was quite possible a small startup website would have over a million links all within a weeks time. You just had to buy them. Or there was linkbuilding services that you just had to enter you domain information, pay the yearly service charge and links would just start showing up. Ah... yea. The good old days.

Well Google has put an end to that and if you try it now, you will not be seen within the Search Results Pages (SERPs) again.

Today, your links should be earned. Remember content is KING!!! Well again... a great SEO statement that is not based on facts, realities of business, or even what Google has stated.

Today, you just ask everyone that is willing to listen to you for a link. The more you ask, the better your chances are to rank high in the SERPs. Although getting lots of links is mandatory, not all links are created equal and strict evaluation of the potential link source is paramount to your success and Google's approval. So before we go any further, it's time to go over the basic three elements of a link.

  • Trust
  • Diversity
  • Relevance

Links that are trusted

Links that are diverse

  • Diversity of linking domains - means getting links from lots of different domains not the same ones over and over again.
  • Diversity of link type - means getting links or what is call your "natural link profile" will contain links from many different types of websites like directoriew, press release syndications.

Links that are relevant

Although there are many definations on this word "relevant" in SEO, it refers to the string of text that is placed within the link's Anchor text and this will allowed Google to discover the possible topic of a page without even having to crawl it. Today is one of the primary signals used by them.

What does a good link look like?

Ok, ok. What does a link really look like. The basic anatomy of a link looks like this:

< a href="https://www.catanich.com" title="Catanich - Internet Marketing Company">Catanich Internet Marketing

This is an HTML Anchor Tag that we also call a URL, link, hyperlink, etc. However, it is what the programmer codes on the web page and how it is used that matters.

So... What Makes A Bad Link?

For this question, I always refer to Moz that currently uses 17 main factors in creating their spam score.

Spam Score is based on our machine learning model which identified 27 common features among the millions of banned or penalized sites in the data we fed it. Spam Score represents the percentage of sites with similar features we've found to be penalized or banned by Google.

Here's a rundown of the 27 signals Moz currently uses use:

  1. Low number of pages found - Our crawlers discovered only a small number of pages on this domain. This is not an inherent problem, but many spam sites have small numbers of pages, hence the correlation.
  2. TLD correlated with spam domains - This domain's top-level domain extension (e.g. .info, .cc, .pl, etc) is one that many spam domains use.
  3. Domain name length - The length of the subdomain and root domain is similar to those used by spam sites.
  4. Domain name contains numerals - Like many spam sites, this domain name contains numeric characters.
  5. Google Font API Present - This domain does not use special fonts (e.g. Google Font API). Lacking this feature was common among spam sites we found.
  6. Google Tag Manager - Google Tag Manager is almost never present on spam sites.
  7. Doubleclick Present - The Doubleclick ad tag is almost never present on spam sites.
  8. Phone Number Present - Spam sites rarely have real phone numbers present on their pages.
  9. Links to LinkedIn - Almost no spam sites have an associated LinkedIn page, hence lacking this feature is correlated with spam.
  10. Email Address Present - Email addresses are almost never present on spam sites.
  11. Defaults to HTTPS - Few spam sites invest in SSL certificates; HTTPS is often a good trust signal.
  12. Use of Meta Keywords - Pages that use the meta keywords tag are more likely to be spam than those that don't.
  13. Jumpshot Visit Rank - Websites with very few visits in Jumpshot's clickstream panel were more often spam than those with high numbers of visits.
  14. Rel Canonical - Utilizing a non-local rel=canonical tag is often associated with spam.
  15. Length of Title Element - Pages with very long or very short titles are correlated with spam sites.
  16. Length of Meta Description - Pages with very long or very short meta description tags are correlated with spam sites.
  17. Length of Meta Keywords - Pages with very long meta keywords tags are often found on spam sites.
  18. Browser Icon - Spam sites rarely use a favicon; non-spam sites often do.
  19. Facebook Pixel - The Facebook tracking pixel is almost never present on spam sites.
  20. Number of External Outlinks - Spam sites are more likely to have abnormally high or low external outlinks.
  21. Number of Domains Linked-To - Spam sites are more likely to have abnormally high or low unique domains to which they link.
  22. Ratio of External Links to Content - Spam sites are more likely to have abnormal ratios of links to content.
  23. Vowels/Consonants in Domain Name - Spam sites often have many sequential vowels or consonants in their domain name.
  24. Hyphens in Domain Name - Spam sites are more likely to use multiple hyphens in their domain name.
  25. URL Length - Spam pages often have abnormally short or long URL path lengths.
  26. Presence of Poison Words - Spam sites often employ specific words that are associated with webspam topics like pharmaceuticals, adult content, gaming, and others.
  27. Uses High CPC Anchor Text? - Spam sites often employ specific words in the anchor text of outlinks that are associated with webspam topics like pharmaceuticals, adult content, gaming, and others?.

Additional thoughts...

  • Low MozTrust or MozRank Score - The site link profile is not trustworthy.
  • Large Site with Few Links - We found very few sites linking to this site, considering its size.
  • Site Link Diversity is Low - The diversity of link sources to this subdomain is low.
  • Ratio of Followed to Nofollowed Subdomains - The ratio of followed to nofollowed subdomains linking to this subdomain is outside the normal range of others in our index.
  • Ratio of Followed to Nofollowed Domains - The ratio of followed to nofollowed domains linking to this subdomain is outside the normal range of others in our index.
  • Small Proportion of Branded Links - Links to this subdomain have low amounts of branded anchor text.
  • Thin Content - A subset of pages within this subdomain have little content.
  • Site Mark-up is Abnormally Small - There's a high ratio of visible text compared to HTML, JavaScript, etc.
  • Large Number of External Links - A subset of pages within this subdomain has a large number of external links.
  • Low Number of Internal Links - Pages crawled on the subdomain have a small number of internal links.
  • Anchor Text Heavy Page - There's a high ratio of anchor text compared to content text.
  • External Links in Navigation - There's a large number of external links within sidebars and footers.
  • No Contact Info - None of the pages crawled contain an email address or links to a social profile.
  • Low Number of Pages Found - Crawl only gets a valid response to a small number of pages.
  • TLD Correlated with Spam Domains - This subdomain is on a top level domain (TLD) extension often found to be the source of spam links.
  • Domain Name Length - This domain name's character count is higher than average.
  • Domain Name Contains Numerals - Domain names including numbers are often found to be the source of spam links.