How to evaluate the quality of a site for link building is one of the most misunderstood SEO concepts. But, getting it wrong can have disastrous results for your company including leaving sites that could drive traffic out of your outreach or including sites that don’t provide any value or worse, actively hurt your SEO performance. When link building, there are several elements that you should consider before you determine the quality of the site.
Finding the Right Site for Link Building
The most effective way to identify the right sites to get links from should be based on who is linking to your competitors, or sites that outrank you in Google search results for your identified search terms and keywords. You should take the time to research who is linking as a number one search result in Google for the keywords and phrases that you are optimizing for, and get the same sites to link to your site in the right way. However, the process is not as simple as it sounds, and there are several factors that you will need to evaluate when choosing the right site for link building to ensure that they offer the kind of quality that Google is looking for to help rather than harm your brand.
What Does Google Advise?
Over the past years, Google has confirmed that link schemes in search rankings can have a negative impact, with several pieces of advice around this topic. However, Google’s guidelines on link schemes are ambiguous, and relying on them could pose a challenge to your link building program. This is because Google’s algorithms cannot interpret intent when it comes to links. It does not know if you have placed a high-quality, natural link in the content to improve the experience of readers, or if your main goal is to drive organic ranking.
According to experts, links should not be passing signals and are fine as a way of reaching a broader audience. But on the other hand, Google’s guidelines are not necessarily meant to guide your link building. However, it can help you determine what Google thinks is relevant when it comes to content and link quality.
Identifying Metrics and Quality
Identifying the quality of a site’s metrics can help with setting up for success with link building. The State of Link Building Survey from Aira reports on how people measure and report on link building activity, with metrics that include some of the proprietary metrics of the best SEO tools, such as:
- Ahrefs’ Domain Rating
- Moz Domain Authority
- SEMrush Authority Score
- Moz Page Authority
- Verve Link Score
In the Google search quality guidelines, there is also a section for Overall Page Quality Rating that you can use to help you determine the quality of a site for link building. The system can help with covering the purpose and depth of content along with credible sources.
Key Elements to Consider
When you review websites for link building purposes, there are some main elements that you should consider to help you determine the site’s quality. According to Search Engine Journal, these include:
- Content: Look at the written and visual content of the blog or main site
- Authorship: Who is responsible for the main content of the site? Who are the existing guest post authors?
- Reputation: Does the authorship have any reputation? Is their reputation good or bad?
- Link Profile: What do the links that point to this site look like?
- Admin: Does the site include any advertising, and what are the advertising policies?
- Technical: How do users find the site and engage with its content?
Analyzing the Various Elements of a Site
The elements mentioned above are vital when it comes to evaluating potential linking partners. Be sure to examine multiple elements before deciding if the site is the quality that you need, and bear in mind that some aspects might be more important than others.
Check through the content and examine the links to see if they are tagged with sponsor or nofollow. The navigation is also an important aspect to examine, as this will give you a better idea of the topics that the site covers and how general it is. Check the frequency of the posts and avoid sites where posts are old or infrequent. Finally, check the content for any keywords that should be avoided including those related to gambling, payday loans or porn.
Check the names and bylines for the content. Is it set to the site name or admin? Is the author from your target country? Spend some time finding and reading the author pages to see how much information is available about them.
Does the website have a social media presence? Do the authors have a social media presence? What kind of accounts are following them? How much engagement do they get, both on social media and on the site itself?
Use one of the tools mentioned above to figure out the authority score for the website. Low authority websites are best avoided. Check the number of links; avoid excessive links that are pointing to one page. In addition, avoid a site that includes a lot of non-relevant links that do not make sense for the page.
Be wary of any websites that advertise ‘dofollow’ links in guest posts since Google claims that their algorithm can figure out this link buying scheme. Check the About Us page for any links to money pages and examine the advertising and guest posts on the site.
Find out where the site is based and the focus of the audience’s country. Check if the website exists in Google’s index with more than simply the homepage. Research the page engagement to see if the site has ads, layout, and linking within pages.
When it comes to link building, the sites that you choose will have a massive impact on your SEO. Choosing the wrong site could mean that you’re wasting time and money or, even worse, your SEO efforts are harmed.