In part one of Link Value: Top Rankings, Secrets and Lies, I discussed what links are worth and how to place a value on them. Simply stated, links are worth whatever top rankings are worth in your industry. Now I will explore further the importance of placing a value on links, along with more simple strategies to determine the value of links. This will assist you in deciding which links/sites to focus your efforts on for maximum results.
Many may think placing a value on links applies only to traditional paid links. That is not the case at all. Your time is worth money and that time needs to be focused in order to maximize your results. Otherwise, you are using up valuable time chasing links that have little value. Whether you are going to create compelling industry research, jaw-dropping linkbait or an innovative widget, you need to determine where to focus your attention when it comes to pursing links.
Let's explore this example. Your company just hired a talented cartoonist to create a hilarious cartoon series making fun of your industry. Which do you feel would be a better use of time?
- To pitch the new cartoon series to sites that will link to it from their resource page that few view daily or even weekly?
- To pitch the series to sites that will do a write-up about the new cartoon series, thus creating much exposure, traffic and links?
The answer is clear. Take the link from option one, yet focus efforts on option two since those links will carry much more value in terms of link value, traffic and exposure. In addition, further narrow the targeted sites down to older trusted sites with high-quality backlinks. Refer back to part one of this column for a refresher on site age, backlinks and link placement.
Now it is time to explore some more simple ways to help determine the value of a link.
Find sites or pages with recent cache dates. The cache is the record of your site that Google maintains.
In general, sites that have their pages cached on a more frequent basis have more authority and trust. It is a great signal of quality on how Google views a site. Another advantage is securing a link on a page that is cached often will get that link discovered and counted much quicker.
Aaron Wall, of SEOBook.com, refers to the cache date as the new Google PageRank.
"Given Google's reliance on core domain authority and displaying outdated PageRank scores, cache date is a much better measure of the authority of a particular page or site than PageRank is," Wall said.
Everyone knows getting the right anchor text in inbound links is important for top rankings, especially in hyper-competitive verticals. If a potential site has a history of linking to other sites with good anchor text, or allows you to suggest anchor text, that will raise the value of the link.
At the same time, if the site normally just hyperlinks the URL, that still has tremendous value. Don't skip over it! It will help to build a healthy link profile, to appear natural and pass link value.
Keep in mind search engines have improved at understanding the topical nature of a link based on the page and site the link originates from. If your company sells premium organic dog food and 75 veterinarians link to your dog food site, then search engines will be able to see the relationship.
Yes, traffic should be considered when trying to establish the value of a link. If a link can pay for itself just in traffic and exposure, then it is a no-brainer. The value from the link is simply an added benefit. This applied to any type of link campaign, from getting interviewed, to incentive campaigns, to paid advertisements. All of which take time that is costing your company money.
What's a link worth?
Placing an actual dollar value on links is highly subjective and in my opinion cannot be done with any tool. The reason for that is one company may have a yearly revenue increase of $200,000 from top 10 results. For another vertical it could be a $1 million increase. In the same vertical one site may convert at a much higher rate, thereby making top rankings more lucrative. As a general rule, the more competitive the industry, the more links are worth. The real value of links is the final result on the bottom line.
Whichever link building strategies employed maximize the results by focusing on the links that will deliver the most value. This can be done by examining site age, backlinks, link placement, anchor text, cache date and traffic. Then watch your revenue grow.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!