Links are how Google understands the relationship between the web pages of the same website as well as relationships among different websites. It is how it understands the authority of a website. Which begs the question of whether Link Building should be quality based or quantity based.
Link Building Quality VS Quantity has long been debated but now we are somewhere close to it than we were before
But, let’s first understand the basics
A brief introduction to Link Building
Link Building is a process of building links to an external site for your website. As the Google Bot performs a crawl it discovers a link that points to your website; depending on the directive i.e. Dofollow or nofollow the crawler will follow the link and pass the weightage depending upon the quality and relevance of the link.
Weightage is nothing but the link juice that Google Bot will direct to your website. The more quality backlinks you build the more your rankings will surge for competitive search queries & branded search queries.
To build links different link building strategies are leveraged like guest blogging, claiming unlinked branded mentions, broken link building, citation link building, web 2.0 link building, and many more.
Now to understand why the quality of links matter it’s important to understand Google Algorithm Updates
What do Google Algorithm Updates tell us about Link Quality?
1st we will understand PageRank Algorithm Update
The PageRank Algorithm update is named after Larry Page who is a co-founder of Google. This algorithm was designed to measure the importance of the web pages.
The PageRank Algorithm Update focused heavily on the number of links from external sites pointing to the website it factors in both quality and the quantity.
So it is from here that the whole rat race towards link building began.
But hold on… Let’s not jump to the conclusion
Google launched many more Algorithm Updates after this, we will take a look at the updates that concern link-building
Right after PageRank came Penguin Update
Penguin update was essentially a webspam algorithm update that sought to fight the link spam & link manipulation activities that were taking place. Penguin Algorithm made a point that from here on we will focus more heavily on the quality of links than the quantity.
To give people more clarity over the Penguin update Google published a blog on Webmaster Central titled “Another Step to Rewarding High-Quality Sites”
Essentially in this blog post, they highlighted the fact that they are well aware of link spam activities like unusual linking patterns where a website belong to X niche that’s got nothing to do with Y niche will build a link on Y for keyword-rich anchor text that doesn’t contextually make sense on that web page at all.
What exactly does High-Quality Link Building mean?
What exactly do they mean when they say high-quality link-building?
There are certain parameters that define the quality of the link also called link quality.
You need to assess the quality of a link when you are doing high-quality link building.
A prospective site where you will build the link will be considered a high-quality link if the website complements your niche, the website has high-incoming traffic coming from relevant keywords & has a healthy backlink profile. That’s about all that you need to look for
- The Niche of the website
- Quality of the incoming organic traffic
- Backlink Profile
i) The niche of the website: Let’s say your website for which you want to improve rankings caters to the health niche and you are scoring backlink opportunities on technology websites because it’s easy, available & free; so this the kind of activities that doesn’t help you at all.
Google looks for link relevancy signals to pass on the link juice. Sure if we are talking about health tech then it makes sense to build in-content links on a technology niche website. Otherwise, I’m not so sure if it can help you.
ii) Quality of incoming organic traffic: checking the organic traffic & organic keywords on a website where you want to build links is a must!
It says a lot about how authoritatively Google sees that site to be.
A Digital Marketing Niche website ranking high for topics like “SEO Strategies for ….”, “Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Business” on Google implies that this website is an authority website in the Digital Marketing Niche that is the reason it’s ranking so well for such competitive topics.
Analyzing organic keywords of the potential site where you want to build a link you will be surprised how deceptive tactics some sites use.
Some sites use Organic Traffic baits like writing on non-contextual topics that are easier to rank for and are not aligned to the niche; they will not display that article on the homepage; it might be orphaned but link builders like who look for traffic using SEOQuake will be amazed by the traffic number that we will see & shoot the mail right away.
It is for this reason, that I always look for organic keywords and their position before going ahead.
iii) Backlink Profile: Analyzing a backlink profile is important, it conveys how healthy the backlink profile of the website.
As you download the backlink database of the website you will see the quality of a website where the links have been built. A lot of sites to manipulate the PageRank Algorithm would build a number of links on sites like PBN.
They will themselves build a huge network of PBN sites and take links from there. Be mindful because Google is cracking down on such sites that are resorting to link schemes like PBN Links, Link Farm, Doorway pages, Poor Directory & Bookmark links, and more.
The kind of backlinks that you want to see in the site; are the links from an authority website that also caters to the niche, if you are seeing backlinks from huge publications like HuffPost, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and the likes then that’s even better.
The Problem with Quantity Link Building Mindset: Building More Links irrespective of Quality
Sadly enough, there are still some SEO agencies where this mindset is dragged across and the team is given insane link building targets.
They make the client happy by showing that we build x number of links in a month.
The client also feels happy about the same not realizing that in the long-term they are putting the client’s website in jeopardy when it will qualify for a penalty.
A quantity based link building activity will give no heed to the quality, it will work on hard targets.
Such kind of link building activities focuses on building links via tactics like poor directory link building, poor bookmarking links, tons of PBN links, poor quality guest posts, excessive web 2.0 link building, image submission link building, classified ads submission link building.
The 80/20 Rule I feel also applies to SEO.
The 80/20 Rule holds that 20% of activities that we conduct is responsible for 80% of output rest activities goes in vain.
Link Building is no different here.
There are redundant link building activities like directory submissions, classified ads submissions, image submission (for links) that carries no impact on the SEO.
Even Google has condemned a lot of these poor link schemes in their blog.
I can prove this to you, that Link Building Quality wins all the time
Let’s pick a niche! Let’s take “hunting Niche website for this example”
The difference is clear!
Both sites cater to the same micro niche & yet the site with less number of referring domains is bagging more organic traffic. What’s more of a shocker is the fact that the site with fewer referring domains also has fewer published blog posts than that of its competitor.
It is for this reason you need to always consider the quality of backlinks as opposed to quantity of backlinks.