Throughout my two decades in internet marketing and nearly 20 years building links and watching trends come and go, the following ideas have come to mind.
The three tips that follow provide a framework for understanding what we mean when we talk about quality links.
The relevance and usefulness of a link for ranking and sales can be determined by understanding these factors.
It can help you better understand how to use your resources to their full potential.
1. What percentage of site visitors will convert?
To assess the usefulness of a link campaign someone might suggest to you, you might ask yourself (or your SEO) how likely it is that visitors to the sites you want to attract links from will convert.
It’s not about precision, like real numbers.
I’m looking for a back of napkin quote.
This is a quick way to tell if something is useful or not.
2. Check the quality of incoming and outgoing links
Examine the types of links those sites have.
Inbound links are great if they are of good quality.
If your links are coming mostly from obvious link building schemes, stay away.
Check out their outgoing links below.
What sites do they link to? Are they shady or irrelevant?
Back off if that’s the case.
Would you be willing to pay for a link from these sites?
I am not suggesting that you pay for a link.
It is simply a mental exercise to ask yourself if you would spend money to advertise on that site.
Consider putting a dollar figure on it if the answer is yes.
If you’re paying that much, you must be wondering why.
If your answer is based on any third-party metrics, stop. End of story. 🙂
Traffic is not the most important metric
All sites do not send traffic.
Not all quality web pages have high PageRank (or whatever metric you want to use).
External quality measures are low on some pages.
They have, however, another type of power, that of relevance and belonging to a good community.
Having a current neighborhood that is relevant is a good thing.
There are times when these neighborhoods are small and not heavily trafficked, but that’s okay.
This is how certain link neighborhoods work, especially in B2B niches.
3. Relevance at the semantic level
I used to chat with a well known link builder many years ago. We were discussing how to identify quality links.
According to him, relevance is about putting words together, so he encouraged people to think semantically about relevance.
The link between a Thai recipe site and a Thailand travel site, for example, would be nice because both sites were about Thailand.
It made sense to him, and many people agreed with him.
However, he did not agree with the idea of semantic relevance.
You can quickly determine if a “semantic relevance” link is useful for ranking purposes by estimating if the traffic has the potential to convert.
The link is good if it does.
The link is probably not good if it doesn’t have the potential to convert.
What is the reason for this?
Now back to the Thai recipes site.
Visitor Intent Relevance
What are the chances of a Thai recipe website visitor buying a ticket to Thailand?
Are recipe site visitors likely to buy a cookbook?
The answer to that question indicates what I would call the relevance of the visitor’s intent.
intention to travel
According to another relevance rule, a link must bring traffic if it brings traffic.
The statement is true.
The traffic, however, is not always good.
There is some traffic that is useless.
Some of the traffic is useless due to the visitor’s intent behind it.
What draws them to the site?
How it works is explained below.
Viral link campaign that was unsuccessful but very successful
I ran a link building clinic in New York several years ago.
An audience member stood up and shared the amazing results of his company’s viral link campaign.
Business to Business (B2B) was the nature of the company. University science labs and the US military purchased its products from the company.
A trend hijacking strategy was used to build their links.
The idea is to select a trend and then figure out a way to make your product fit that trend.
It can be as simple as a Christmas sale. At its most ambitious, it could involve a video game or popular TV show.
The creation of a novelty event tied directly to a video game that had been in the news for weeks trended a very popular video game.
BoingBoing, a viral website, put up a special web page featuring the event.
After that, the website went viral.
All links from newspapers, social networks, blogs and videos crashed the servers.
According to the marketing person, the site received thousands of links and experienced the highest level of traffic they had ever seen.
His confusion stemmed from the fact that his rankings remained unchanged.
After the viral marketing campaign, I asked if there had been any increase in sales.
Sales did not increase, he said. In the absence of links or traffic, the sales curve stayed the same.
The site gained a lot of traffic and links. Sales did not increase as a result of the massive traffic, so brand awareness did not increase.
What caused this to happen?
It is the same as when dozens of children form a circle around two children fighting. It is not to show support for one or the other.
The site was linked for all the wrong reasons.
The link traffic relevancy intent was incorrect.
It is, in my opinion, for this reason that certain viral link campaigns, where relevancy is off topic, are worthless.
As measured by links and traffic, the viral link campaign appears to be successful. However, link popularity is not a true indicator of success.
The most important metric is sales, which is measured in ranking, quality of relevant traffic, and volume of traffic.
Analyzing the quality of the links.
Now you know three ways to determine if a link is useful.
All three methods complement each other and should be useful.
To get started, ask if the traffic from that link will convert.
Another method is to look at incoming and outgoing links to determine the neighborhood of their links.
An examination of the user’s intent to click a link from a page to your own is the third method of determining whether a link is relevant.
Finally, thinking about links from a semantic paradigm may not be the best approach.
A person begins to imagine connections that do not exist in the real world, which leads to illusions.
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