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Link sharing and link building are some of the most impactful tools used by everyone from SEO experts to content creators. But when it comes to the links that you choose to share on your website, you have the good links, and then you have the bad ones. How can you tell the difference between a good link, and a bad link? Better yet, who determines whether a link is good or bad? And what happens when you share a good link versus what happens if you share a bad link?
You need to have the answers to all these questions before you decide to share or host a link on your website. Which is why this article will try to best explain links and you need to use links so that you can improve your website traffic and search engine ranking. However if you still find yourself wanting direct help with getting your website to the top of Google’s ranking, then you can always talk to an SEO Analyst and get an SEO consultation catered specifically for your website.
What is a Link?
Link is short for hyperlink, and it is a clickable HTML object that allows the user to jump from one location to another. All websites offer links on their page and the link definition isn’t limited to just text. Links can be embedded into anything, from pictures to buttons to any other HTML element.
What are the Different Functions of Links?
Links can do three things:
1-Links that jump within your website, from one page to another.
2-Links from another website to your website.
3-Links from your website to another website.
If you check out our latest SEO for Dummies quick guide, you’ll learn that the first two functions of links mentioned above are the ones that matter the most in terms of SEO purposes. The third one on the list will not help a great deal with your SEO. However, it’s good to have them because they do provide a better experience for visitors to your website.
The first link function mentioned above benefits your search engine optimization because those are the links that help search engines like Google pick up a pattern of keywords within your website. The best way to use these types of links is through anchor text, which is the process of including the keywords within the link itself. The purpose is to generate enough traffic and clicks so that Google knows that your website is associated with the keyword that you’re using the links for. That way, Google will begin to rank your website higher for that specific keyword.
And the most important link would have to be inbound links, or the backlink, which performs the second function mentioned above, and that is bringing visitors from other websites to your website. By gathering as many inbound links as possible to your website. you will be increasing the amount of traffic your website is generating, thus increasing your SEO and ranking you higher on search engines.
Who Determines if a Link is Good or Bad?
Now that you’ve gotten a general idea of what links are and how they work, it’s time you understand the business of links. Any SEO specialist worth their buck will tell you that Google leads the way for anything SEO related.
So who determines if a link is good or bad?
And how Google determines the quality of a link tends to change over time. A few years ago, all it would take to get your website ranked higher on Google was to stuff your website full of links. The reasoning back then being, the more links on your website, the better the content, right?
That is until Google changed its criteria, and with it, their algorithm, to enforce stricter conditions on SEO and on link sharing.
Now, the overuse of links or “link stuffing” will not suffice to get your website ranked higher on search engines. The link has to be used in a specific way. Your website can’t just be a collage of outbound, inbound, and internal links. They have to be used naturally in the flow of your content and with a purpose. But that’s not it, there is more.
Links now also have specific qualities to them. There are such things as good links and bad ones. And sharing either of them can have effects on your website and SEO ranking.
Here are the ways you can tell if you are sharing a good link to your website, or if you are sharing a bad one.
How to Tell if a Link is Good
We’ve established that link sharing is crucial to attracting traffic to your website and achieving higher search engine optimization. But that doesn’t mean that any link you post is a useful one. There are certain types of links that catch Google’s all-seeing eye. Here are a few tips to know if a link is good and worthy of being posted on your website.
1- Links That Are Trustworthy
Sharing a link from a trusted source is the safest bet you can make. In an ideal world, we would assume that all websites on the Internet are trustworthy and shareable. But in the real world, it doesn’t work that way. Which is why we have to go by the standards set by Google. Which means, links shared from websites like The New York Times would rate higher than a link shared from an independent less known blog site. The idea is that even the average reader or user would trust The New York Times over a blog site they have never heard about.
There is another belief that the further away a link is from the original source of that link, the less trustworthy it becomes. So if, for example, a link to your website is shared on another website, but in order to access that link a user must first go through a third website, then your website becomes ranked as more likely to be spam along the chain of those shared links. The belief is that the further away a link is from the original “seed” link, the more likely that link is less trustworthy. Search engines could choose their own trusted seed websites and use them as their starting point for crawling the web. As they crawl through these websites and follow the external links, they can see how far away any given website is from the trusted seed set. It all sounds a bit confusing and a bit unfair but the detailed anatomy of a link is what ultimately helps search engines filter out the good links from the bad ones.
2- Relevancy of the Link
Relevancy of the link doesn’t necessarily mean whether or not the link you are plugging-in is relevant to your content. Although that aspect is important for search engines like Google, relevancy here means whether or not the link itself is used appropriately within the content body, and isn’t just splattered onto the text like paint onto a wall.
The best way to make a link relevant within your content is by trying to fill your content with relevant words that flow naturally towards the link you want to share. Then when you get to the part where you want to share the link, make sure to do it in anchor text. Anchor texts are the visible words to the link that you want to share. It helps if the words to the anchor texts are similar to the words on the link you’re sharing. Anchor texts help Google’s web crawlers pick up on a topic of the page without having to crawl it. Continue to use words relevant to your topic even after you’ve established the anchor text within your body of content. This will help continue the theme of relevancy for your link.
3- Location, Location, Location
We’ve established that how a link looks and what a link holds are both important factors when it comes to determining if a link is good or bad. But where a link is located on your website, and in your body content, is also important.
For example, links used in the sidebars of your website, or in footers, are the sort of links that don’t hold a lot of weight. If you stop to think about it, how many times have you personally noticed or clicked on one of those links?
However, links that are properly located within the body of content are deemed more attractive. This is especially true if the link is located in the upper part of the text. Placing the link there with good and relevant text naturally surrounding it, and with a good anchor that attracts the reader’s attention, is the best way to use a link in your text, and to optimize your search engine optimization.
The more good links you fill your website with, in a relevant and free-flowing way, the better your chance of Google picking up on your content, and thus ranking you higher on Google. Always use the right amount of links, and don’t opt for overstuffing your website thinking it will boost your SEO performance. Chances are it will do the opposite.
Of course, the flip side to posting good links is if you post bad ones.
How To Tell if a Link is Bad
Now that we’ve established the major Must Dos of link sharing, it’s only right to go over the major Must Don’ts. As has been mentioned repeatedly, just like you have a good link, you also have bad ones. Here are some of the easiest, and most important ways, to tell if a link is bad, and thus, not to share it on your website.
1- Non-editorial Links
These links tend to fall in line with the definition of non-trustworthy links and sharing them can get you on Google’s bad side. These types of links are anything that links the user to blog comments, discussion forums, press release links, and any sort of sketchy website that is not editorially given.
2- Links to Spam Sites and Other Low-Quality Content
We all hate to be sent a link to a spam site, whether it’s through a text or email. But the feeling is even worse if it’s placed in the middle of an article you’re reading, and the next thing you know you’ve been taken to another page, drowning under a thousand pop-ups. This is why it doesn’t take much explanation to let you know that links such as these are best to be avoided. This isn’t even a Google rule of law, this is just common courtesy. If the webpage you are linking to feels like spam and looks like spam, chances are it is spam, and you should avoid linking it on your website.
Also, make sure the link that you are sharing is up and running! Do not post a link that will take your visitor to a page that is down or dead.
3-Links that Have Been Penalized by Google
Google is constantly rolling out new updates and features on how it ranks content on its search engine. Newer and newer algorithms mean that SEO specialists, small business SEO services, or even guest blogging services have to constantly stay up to date with Google’s algorithm upgrades and new requirements. After all, not paying attention to these new tinkerings could get your site penalized, downgraded, or removed entirely from Google SERP.
For example, back in 2012, Google released the over-optimization penalty which basically de-indexes websites that post unnecessary anchor text. These websites would just cram their webpage with link spamming and other bad SEO practices.
It would be wise to make sure the links that you share are carefully selected and have not been previously penalized, as to avoid penalties to your own website. One-way to know for sure is to read about the different reasons why a website deserves to be penalized by Google.
Where to Find a Good Link?
In the old days, it was much easier to link content on your website. But like we’ve mentioned before, Google is constantly keeping up with industry practices and raising its standards. So now some of the old ways you would get links are frowned upon today.
However, there are still many white hat ways you can obtain links and share them across your website. One way is that you can seek help from an SEO analyst or SEO specialist that would be happy to work on your website for a fee. In return, one of the services they will provide is sharing the appropriate amount of good quality links that will work well to get your website ranked higher on Google.
If you don’t want to splurge for the full cost of an SEO specialist, you can consider hiring a link building company to help you with your link insertion services.
Of course, you can always opt to do it yourself and give link-building a try. If you decide to pursue that path, here are some quick tips on how to perform successful link building.
1- Reaching Out
Think of link building as a way to meet others from within your own industry or niche. In business, it’s called networking, where you go out and search for other businesses similar to yourself, for the purposes of building partnerships and working together. Reach out to other people in your niche and suggest to them to share your link on their platform and vice versa. It’s a simple and easy quid pro quo. The only caveat is finding the common ground where each of your links can be shared on the other’s website or content.
Also, keep in mind, when you’re reaching out you will have to essentially sell yourself and your website to others in your niche market. You will need to convince them why they should post your link on their website, and what they gain from posting their link onto yours. That’s why it’s best to go after people who post the same keywords that you do on your articles and website.
2- Guest Blogging Trojan Horse
Guest blogging is a great way to insert yourself into the spotlight. Offering yourself for guest blogging services is basically pitching similar-minded websites to write a blog post for them. If they agree, then great, you’re halfway there.
Write up a great article for that website showcasing your skills and knowledge about whatever the topic that you’re writing about. As you are writing your guest blog post, casually slip in an anchor text with a link to your website, or bio, or whatever seems natural and relevant in the overall body of content. And voila! You’ve successfully built or planted, a link to your website.
Although what you did might seem a bit sneaky; this is an industry common practice! After all, you are linking them back to your website which in turn provides high-quality content of the same topic or subject. So everybody is a winner in the end: the reader, the host website, and you!
3- Repair A Broken Link
This one might seem like a lot of work, and that’s because it is. But the value of return can be equally as rewarding. The idea being is that you find a link that is essentially broken and that takes you to a dead page. Your job would be to then make your own page with a topic similar to that of the broken link so that you can then replace that broken link. Once you have your page set up, contact the owner of the website who posted the broken link and suggest to them that they replace the broken link with your working one. Granted finding broken links can be a hectic process, but the upside is this: if the broken link is popular, meaning if it’s been used on more than one website then you have the potential to get your working link on all of them. You can always use a broken link checker to see if a link was widely used or not.
Why It Is So Important to Use Links
To cap things off, we thought we’d tell you why it is so important to use links on your website.
Nowadays, it isn’t enough to produce good quality content. Your website should be a combination of a bunch of things. Good quality content is one of them. That helps in making you an expert. What remains is that you prove you are authoritative and trustworthy. In order to do that, you need to have links on your website, and other websites that link back to yours. In fact, Google has now adopted this standard as a way to replace its previous system, which came with the nuisance of keyword stuffing.
In the early days of search engines, all it took to rank your page, was to have a lot of keywords on it. Obviously, this led to a lot of abuse and overuse of keywords. Google pivoted away from that concept and instead decided that a different way to measure a website’s importance is the amount of links that the website has. The assumption is if a website is important, then they are more likely to receive traffic from other websites.
Think of Wikipedia. It is by far one of the most popular, most visited, and highest-ranked websites on Google. Now think about all the different links Wikipedia has on its website, and links diverting traffic to it’s website. There are a lot out there.
Before you begin to panic, don’t! You are not required to have as many links on your website as Wikipedia does. Wikipedia is just to give you an example of how links work and how Google picks up on them. If you stick to the tips and knowledge provided in this article about links and how to use them, then you should be fine.
Now that you’ve gotten a general idea about links, the different qualities of links, how they work, and where to find good links, you should have a different approach towards your website and how to increase your search engine rankings.
Link use and link building should be your key strategy moving forward. Think of links as more than just anchor text to have on your website. Finding good links through link building is also a way to get to know your competitors in your niche market. Using links in the right and appropriate form is another way to enhance your writing and content creation. Figuring out which links are good and which ones are bad helps you determine which websites to learn from and which websites to steer clear from.
In the end, the skills and tools you gain from approaching link using, link building, and link sharing, all bold well in helping your website rank higher on Google and other search engines, as well as making you a better website host, SEO expert, or content creator.