One of the most difficult things for some business owners and webmasters to understand is the value of a link. Reason being, that in most cases there are no direct benefits from any links that you get. Take for instance another form of online marketing such as banner advertising. A banner directly drives impressions, clicks and in a lot of cases an ROI that can be more closely measured. When it comes to link building, how do you associate a value to a link that is amongst text in an article or on a page, which is unlikely to receive many clicks and which all benefits are seen indirectly?

To help with this dilemma I’ve put together 5 example links and ranked them on a value basis. These hypothetical situations should help you to understand which links are more beneficial for SEO and allow you to associate some kind of value to them for your SEO activities. Before we start, we’ll focus on the following elements as a way to gauge the  value of a link, however there are more factors than this that come into play:

  1. Relevancy of website – what’s the site about that’s linking to you
  2. Relevancy of page – what’s the page about that’s linking to you
  3. Anchor Text – what the text says that is linking to you
  4. Where the link is placed – contextually, links page, directory, footer, etc.
  5. PageRank – whilst not as influential as it once was, it’s still a good indication of the authority of a website
  6. Domain type – .com,.com.au,.org.au, .edu.au

Ranking Links by Value

Our example company is an accounting firm, MakeBelieve Partners, looking to increase rankings in Google Australia for the term ‘Brisbane accountant’. The links below are ranked in order from the most valuable to the least valuable.

1. Example Link 1 (most valuable)

The link is placed on a website called Accountant.edu.au. It is a PageRank 10 and the site is all about accounting in Australia and has pages on various topics. It has a page all about Brisbane Accountants and talks about some of the most reputable firms. The link is placed on this page, in the first paragraph like so:

“As a review of Brisbane accountants, we will discuss those that we prefer and the experiences we’ve had with each. We’ve identified five firms that we believe are in Brisbane’s elite and will go into great detail about why we believe these firms are well above the competition. Firstly we’d like to take our hats off to Brisbane accountant MakeBelieve Partners. They are an outstanding firm and provide exceptional service when it comes to providing personal advice and tax management.”

Why is this link the most valuable? The link (underlined and bold) is linking to the page on MakeBelieve Partners that is being optimised for the term ‘Brisbane accountant’. The website and page that contains the link are as highly relevant as you could receive. The anchor text is the exact phrase that is being optimised for, which indicates to a search engine that this is what your page is about. It’s placed contextually (within a body of text), which is of more importance in the eyes of a search engine and much more likely to be a natural link, earned due to having a high quality site. Finally, the website is a PageRank 10 (the highest possible) which is obviously the best you could get and the website is a .edu.au. It is important to remember that .edu links, particularly with the country extension you’re in such as .au, is the most credible link your website can receive. They are harder to get as they are only controlled by education providers and is seen by search engines as another indication that your website is of a high quality.

2. Example Link 2

The link is placed on the exact same website, on the exact same page. However in this case, there is a difference. See below:

“Here are the top 50 Brisbane accountants that we wish to recognise for their superior service, exceptional results and outstanding knowledge of the industry:

  • Dodgy Tax Guys
  • Laundering Partners
  • Brisbane Accountant
  • Wishful Thinking Tax Accountants”

Why is this not as valuable as Example 1? The link is still a high quality, targeted link due to the website it is on and the targeted anchor text. However there is a difference, the link is no longer contextual and is simply within a list of links (50 to be exact, if you read the highlighted words above). Lists of links are typically found on pages that websites have which are used to sell links to other website owners or exchange them between each other. That’s why lists of links are no longer as valuable as a link which is placed contextually.

3. Example Link 3

The link in this example is placed on a PageRank 3 website called Accountant.com.au. The link is placed in a blog post about Brisbane accountants, within the exact same copy as Example 1. Here’s a refresher:

“As a review of Brisbane accountants, we will discuss those that we prefer and the experiences we’ve had with each. We’ve identified five firms that we believe are in Brisbane’s elite and will go into great detail about why we believe these firms are well above the competition. Firstly we’d like to take our hats off to Brisbane accountant MakeBelieve Partners. They are an outstanding firm and provide exceptional service when it comes to providing personal advice and tax management.”

Why is this not as valuable as Example 2? There are a couple of factors that reduce the value of this link verse example 1 or 2. This is still a great link to have and based on the recent Google Panda upate, these types of links will continue to become more valuable. However, the factors which make this not quite as valuable is a significantly lower PageRank, a .com.au instead of .edu.au and the placement is in a blog post instead of a page. Based on recent testing I have conducted, page links hold more weight than a blog post link, however contextual page links are much harder to acquire than blog posts, which makes them a solid option for link building that still achieves great results.

4. Example Link 4

This link is placed on a site called BusinessDirectory.com.au. The site has lists of businesses around Australia in all categories and it is a PageRank 3. The link is placed on a page listing Brisbane accountants. The link looks like this:

“Brisbane Accountants:

Dodgy Tax Guys – Loads of great tax stuff going on.

Laundering Partners – No one helps you launder money like we do.

Brisbane Accountant – We can help you pay less tax.

Wishful Thinking Tax Accountants – You will never pay tax again, ever.”

Why is this not as valuable as Example 3? This link is less valuable for a number of reasons. The link is not placed contextually, again it’s a list of links with minimal text surrounding them, much less valuable as far as search engines are concerned. While the page topic is relevant, the website is a broad business directory with pages on everything from companies that sell knitted socks to custom motorbike manufacturers. The topical relevance of the website is not specific to accounting. Even though it’s on a page instead of a blog post, it’s still not as valuable.

5. Example Link 5 (least valuable)

This link is placed on a PageRank 1 (lowest possible) website called DogBreeders.com.au. It is placed in a blog post about ‘How to Wash Your Dog’. The link looks like this in the post:

“To clean your small dog, use the correct dog shampoo and a bucket. Wash its entire body and ensure all dirt is removed. My dog was washed by MakeBelieve Partners recently who did an extraordinary job.”

Why is this the least valuable? This is the least valuable link as it is on a low PageRank website and post about a non-relevant topic. Whilst it is a contextually placed link, the copy surrounding it is not relevant to accounting at all, which demonstrates no authority for accounting related terms. Finally, the link is not using targeted anchor text, so any value the link is passing is predominantly for the name of the accounting firm, as opposed to the term that they are optimising for.

 

There are many more examples that could be created, with hundreds of possible link types that you could acquire. Hopefully these examples provide you with some more insight into what is a valuable link and allow you to understand which are more important for your business.