Jul 08 2010

Link Sources Worthy of Link Building vs. “Others”

Category: link buildingTom Shivers


According to the poll I hosted last month, “Poll: What Sites and Links Offer the Most Value for Search Rank?” the most voted for sites with the most link value include:

  • Pages with a high page rank 13.3%
  • Page content relevant to your keywords 13.3%
  • Sites close to trusted seed sites 9.6%
  • Sites within your industry 9.6%

I wasn’t that surprised at the results. It kinda tells me that my poll participants are split between people who have some experience with link building (majority) and those who have lots of experience with it.

So, based on my experience, here’s how I prioritize the sites with the most link value from most effective to least:

Type of Sites/Pages (assume these sites are indexed by the search engines and none link to known spam sites):

  1. Sites close to trusted seed siteslink source
  2. Professional association sites
  3. Sites within your industry
  4. Sites in your geo location – effective if you are doing local SEO
  5. Relevant blogs with a large following
  6. Well-known brand sites – effective if topically relevant, but hard to do without a connection
  7. News outlet sites (local newspaper/radio/tv) – effective for local SEO

These first 7 types of sites are hands down, the best ones to pursue for link building because they usually have authority and there’s almost no way to get there without a relationship with an editor (relevance control). The effectiveness of these next site types (8-17) are questionable and dependent on other things before it can be considered an effective link source.

  1. Sites run by your biggest/best competitor – this is a likely winner since topical relevance and authority is almost guaranteed, but do you want your competitors to know what you are doing? However, if they have a blog and are open to guest posting, they may be less threatened by your link and could care less what you are doing to build links.
  2. .org, .edu or .gov sites – can be effective but there’s no proof that Google favors these sites over others
  3. Sites that continue to evolve developing new content – can be effective if the site is topically relevant and has authority. Sites like this seeking fresh content may be an opportunity to guest post.
  4. Sites that are old – an old site may not be the best place to seek out links, especially if it’s not topically relevant.
  5. Page content relevant to your keywords – although this content is relevant, it’s not clear if the site has any authority.
  6. Niche directories – it can be tricky to find an authoritative directory that is indexed by search engines at the page where your link is located, but there are some.
  7. Pages that receive lots of organic search traffic – “There’s a difference between popular and reputable” websites, says Matt Cutts. Traffic isn’t a significant ranking factor: “PR does not reflect popularity in the sense that porn is very popular, but nobody links to porn…(those sites) don’t have the PageRank you’d expect if you went by usage.” Plus, where is the relevance?
  8. Pages with a high page rank – the effectiveness depends on the quantity and topical usefulness of links already on the page
  9. Online press release sites – typically press release pages don’t last long unless the press release is picked up by a news outlet site or another quality site, otherwise the links don’t last.
  10. Sites with many backlinks from other sites – having lots of backlinks does not make a site an authority on a given topic, and who knows where those links came from

It’s my view that a link from a somewhat authoritative website with highly relevant content is a much better link source than a link from a highly authoritative website, but totally unrelated content.

Among SEO professionals, there’s an ongoing effectiveness debate: links from an authoritative, but totally unrelated website Vs. links from a fairly authoritative, but highly relevant website

Leave your comments.

Next, I’ll discuss the results of the second part of the poll: anchor text links that provide the most value.

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