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Not all links are equal

Not all links are equal

As an SEO professional, it’s impossible not to take an interest in links. We’re used to carrying out analysis of link profiles. In fact, sometimes it can become something of an obsession!

We may also enjoy telling our clients about the quality of their own link profile and how it compares with their competitors. The success of some black hat techniques suggests that quantity can often still over-power quality. So does this mean that we should think of link-building as being a numbers game?

We don’t think so. We think that quality matters. But we know that plenty of people would disagree.

Identifying quality links

So how can you identify a high quality link. One measure might be to think, objectively, about the value that’s offered to the end user. Let’s think about a couple of case studies.

Bob’s Autos

In the first example, we’ll consider Bob’s Autos, a small business based in Surrey. Bob carries out vehicle servicing and repairs. Since he only operates within a relatively small radius of his garage, he’s only really interested in ranking well for search terms that are related to car repairs in the Surrey area.

He browses and online forum and is offered “10,000 links” to his website for a seemingly great price! He’s can’t resist the offer!

Bob ends up with 10,000 links, all from a variety of blogs and forums. Few of those blogs and forums are currently ranked in the search engines. Many of them seem to have been actively penalised.

Looking at the content of the pages where his links are listed, it’s noticeable that very few of the pages have anything to do with motoring. Even less are based in the UK.

Jerry’s Garage

Now let’s turn to Example 2. Jerry also runs a car servicing business, but he’s based in Hampshire.

He hires a local SEO firm, paying rather more than Bob opted for. Jerry also receives some links to his website, but only seems to receive a handful of them. Nothing like the 10,000 that Bob received.

When Jerry looks at the links that he’s received, he finds that many of them result from a Press Release about his business that was sent to relevant industry-related news sources in the UK. As a result, he’s got links to his website from some of the leading auto websites in the UK.

Some thoughts

Which would you choose?

So which would you opt for in the above example? Quantity or quality? There are, of course, a number of other factors that we might want to consider when evaluating those links.

But what these examples show us is that there are very different ways of gathering links online (we’re resisting mentions of the terms “white hat” and “black hat” here!)

What most business owners want, of course, is to get reliable, sustainable results. They’re less interested in technological hurdles and more interested in outcomes. So should we think about the value of gaining a link? Are we giving our clients what they really want?

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