When operating a link building campaign, one of the most important things to get your head around is valuing a particular link prospect. The information you glean from doing this will determine how much effort to put into gaining a link, or indeed whether you should even bother in the first place. Most experienced link builders will find that they develop a ‘sense’ for whether a link is worth chasing or not. However, this ‘sense’ is developed over years of using tools and metrics to determine a links potential value.
*Top tip: Never forget that a good link sends traffic. Don’t get so caught up in everything that you forget this. If you get links that send traffic, chances are you’re getting great links!
A lot can also depend on the context of your link building efforts. If you’re aiming to gain some high quality links then being able to value a link prospect will really come into its own, and allow you to prioritise the best link prospects. In no particular order, my first thoughts when I find a potential linking prospect are as follows:
- How much effort might be required?
- What might I need to offer; content, product or a potential partnership?
- Can I find the appropriate contact details?
- Does the website in question actually link out to other sites?
These are the first things that I consider to try and decide if this is an opportunity worth working on, or if I should walk away and carry on looking for other prospects. If the website I’m looking at never links out, then getting a link is going to be extremely unlikely. A quick think about what I might need to offer in return for link gives me a starting point and should help me gain a rough idea of how much work might be involved.
This all helps me make an informed decision, and crucially balance effort vs potential reward. It’s true that in some cases one link might be worth days or even month’s worth of work, so it’s helpful to have a rough idea of the work involved and a general overview of my chances.
In order to actually value the links potential benefit I tend to use a mixture of the following metrics:
- Page authority
- Linking root domains to the page
- A rough idea of traffic (social activity, number of comments per post etc)
- Toolbar page rank
- Check for bad company (not the band!)
When added together with a bit of gut feeling, I can usually get a really good idea of how beneficial that link in particular might be, and whether it’s worth the effort.
I’ve found that used alone, some of these metrics won’t help too much but when added together you can build a very useful picture of a link’s potential quality. For example, toolbar page rank is pretty useless on its own due to it not being updated very regularly. You might be looking at a blog with a toolbar page rank of 2, that is now in fact a PR3 blog. However, when comparing page authority against toolbar page rank you might be able to spot a penalty. If the domain in question has a very high domain authority but a low PR there could be something dodgy going on.
You’ll also want to avoid websites that could be selling links. As a quick check, look at the footer or blog roll to see if there’s anything unusual.
Hopefully you’ll find this useful, it would be great to hear your ideas in the comment section below!
About the author: I run my own small SEO company ‘Go Search Marketing’ and also run a variety of websites including The Jewellery Boutique selling handmade contemporary jewellery. All in all, it’s a pretty varied life!