Value of Links

For years search engines relied almost exclusively upon content for ranking web pages. One of Google’s unique features was the democratic approach of using links as a way to determine site rankings. This ranking approach brought more relevance and reliability to the rankings and began excluding some of the more “spammy” sites.
Today Google, Yahoo, Bing, and most other search engines consider a link as a “vote” of trust or authority from another site. Search engines consider the context of both pages, the page with the link, and the page the link points to, as well as the anchor text, which is the text of the link itself.
The act of obtaining links is called Link Building. Before we discuss how to build links, let’s examine what makes a strong link. Several factors determine
whether a link is strong or weak. A few strong links can help your search rankings much more than many weak links. The major factors that contribute to the strength of a link are:
• Anchor text
• Relevance of site
• Backlinks of site
• Domain age
• .Edu and .Gov links
• Location on a Page

Anchor Text
The displayed text others use as the link back to your site is a very important aspect to the strength of a link and how the search engines will rank the site being linked to. Anchor text gives context to the subject matter of the linked page. If you write an article entitled “How to Fix a Leaky Faucet,” others might link to your story with a link using the exact title of the article, or just fixing a leaky faucet. When a search engine finds the link to your article, it takes the link text into consideration for the ranking of that page and gives it more weight in determining the rankings for that keyword.
When building links, you must take any opportunity to determine the anchor text of a new link to your site. When submitting or contacting a site owner for a link, you should have the HTML code for a link ready to go, increasing the chance of your preferred anchor text being used.

TIPS FOR YOU: Keep in mind that having all anchor text the exact same is unnatural and may be devalued by search engines. Mix it up by adding a word, changing from singular to plural, or stemming a word differently. Google considers “Consulting” and “Consultant” to be very related, so much so that they would highlight the other word in a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) even though it doesn’t match our search term exactly.

Relevance of Site
Getting links from sites whose content is related to your site contributes to making a strong link. If your site is about “digital cameras,” we recommend getting links from any site dealing with photography, electronics, and technology, all of which are related to digital cameras.

Backlinks of Site
A site with many quality backlinks of their own makes for a strong link opportunity because search engines give links from these sites higher “authority” or “value.” A few good links from an authoritative site, with well-designed anchor text, can have a positive influence on your rankings. Conversely, links from sites with hundreds or thousands of links from spammy gambling or prescription sites won’t provide much link value, and could even hurt your site’s rankings. Linking from these types of sites should be avoided.

Domain Age
One important factor search engines consider when determining the authority of a site is the age of the domain. The older the domain, the better the chance the site owners have created more quality content, which is well established in the industry and therefore can trusted more than a new site. So older domains and sites have an advantage in the rankings over newer domains and their resulting sites. Another factor may also be how many years the domain is registered into the future. We recommend registering your website for at least 5 years to show search engines your website is committed for the long-term. Getting links from older sites and from sites registered for multiple years makes for a stronger link.

.Edu and .Gov links
Websites with a .edu or .gov extension are generally very strong links, particularly because the domains are not publicly available for purchase or transfer. Getting links from a .edu or .gov domain is not easy, but this is because the links are valuable. If you can find opportunities to earn them, you should take advantage.
Some site owners have had success by sponsoring university career fairs, providing various event sponsorships, creating resource pages, and even having contests inviting the participation of students from a variety of on-campus clubs and vocations.

Location on a Page
Generally, a link within the main body of a page has more value than a link on the side menu or at the very bottom of a page, like in a footer.

TIP FOR YOU: A lesser known link strategy called “Co-Citations” involves having two links to relevant, authoritative sites, like Wikipedia, in close proximity to a link in the text. This groups the site with the authoritative sites in the eyes of the search engines, and will help bolster the value of the link.

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