The search engines are only getting smarter, and link building is being redefined as a result. It’s important to think ahead if you want to stay in the game for the long haul. There are several link value measurements that you can use to determine if a website or webpage will be able to carry high amounts of link juice to your site. There are three main parts:
- Domain Authority – Though the phrase “domain authority” is often discussed in the SEO world. Domain authority is a measure of the power of a domain name and is one of many search engine ranking factors. Domain authority is based on three factors: Age, Popularity, and Size.
- Domain Trust – the best way to know if a link prospect is trusted by Google is by copying any of the site’s inner page’s title and searching it on Google. If the page is returned and displayed on Google’s top page (much better if it’s within the top 5 results), then it’s a signal that the domain is highly trusted.
- High Traffic – can be measured through Alexa traffic rank and/or Compete.com. Acquiring links from sites that have high traffic can get your site more click-through visitors if obtained links have good placements.
- Site Indexation – a site’s indexation rate can simply be gauged by comparing the ratio of the site’s number of indexed pages on Google and the number of internal links on the site’s homepage. A robust domain is capable of having its deeper pages indexed by search engines, and having many pages indexed without the support of internal links from the domain’s main page means that it has a good site structure and has managed to build incoming links to keep the site’s deep pages regularly crawled.
- Domain’s Age – search engines reward more trust on older domains, which simply means links acquired from old domains can carry a lot of link value. However it’s also best to get links from newer websites to naturalize your site’s link growth through the diversity of its links. For links acquired from old and newly published websites, it’s crucial to weigh its potentials as well as the future value of the links (will the linking page stay on the web for a long time?). The easiest way to determine the durability of your link prospects is by checking their sites’ updates, if they are weekly or monthly updating a blog or resource pages.
- Good Search Rankings – you can measure a site’s search engine traffic performance through SEMrush or Alexa’s Site info, wherein you’ll be able to see the top keywords that are sending traffic to their site as well as the approximate value of their traffic.
- Number of incoming links to the entire site – another good metric to use in indicating if a site is still active or still updating the site is by checking its link profile, where you can usually track the age of their links and if they are still getting new links. A site that have hundreds or thousands of links linking to it is also a good sign of link value that you’ll be getting from them, seeing as the links that they have acquired will pass through link juice and authority to your site.
- PageRank – this metric from Google is still reliable in some ways, though a little outdated. It’s best used in targeting pages for link outreach purposes (most commonly on resource pages, homepage blogrolls, recommended links, etc…).
- MozRank – a good alternative in measuring a page’s importance/popularity, since SEOmoz’s Linkscape updates this toolbar much faster compared to PageRank.
- External link attributes – it’s also important to identify the link attributes that your link prospects are giving (if the links they cite are followed or nofollow). It’s known that dofollow links pass higher value than nofollow links.
- Number of incoming links – the amount of backlinks that your target page has is a strong indication of a valuable link, as it will be very much capable of passing link juice from internal links within the domain directing to it as well as from other domains linking to that page.
- Link’s placement – the higher the link will be placed on the page’s content, the more value it is able to carry, since web crawlers have more access to links placed on the higher section of the body (within the content).
- Anchor text – anchor text is one of the biggest factors in the rankings equation overall, so it’s no surprise it features prominently in the attributes of a link that engines consider.
- Difficulty – the level of difficulty in pursuing the link, given that time is very important when it comes to link building.
- Quality of content – if the content of the page offers useful content and is authentically worth linking to, since obtaining a link from pages that are of use to many of their visitors can draw referred traffic to your site.
- Durability – if the target page will stay useful to their visitors or if the page will stay on Google’s index for a long time.
- Presence of spam links – a page that is linking to spammy websites reduces its link value, as the external page that it’s related to or vouching for affects its ability to pass trustworthy citations. Getting links from sites’ that are linking out to questionable pages, bad neighborhood sites and topically irrelevant sites with obvious manipulative anchor texts (like gambling sites and adult-content sites) can make a bad impression for your links and may also be tagged by search engines as spam if it’s seen along with them.
- Presence of paid links – paid links can be easily detected if the target page has a “sponsored links” placed anywhere in the sidebar or footer area of the site. Google penalizes page that take part on these activities, which can put your site at risk once they are caught.
- Excessive outbound linking – acquiring links from web pages that contain more than 150 external links will pass little to no value to your site, knowing that web crawlers will only prioritize the ones that are placed on the higher position of the page.
While the list above includes many data points, it’s almost certainly not comprehensive. Please feel free to suggest others that belong here in the comments below.