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4.7 Factors that make up quality links

When you decide whether you need a link from some page or not, there are a couple of factors that can help you make up your mind. And these are not just things to add up to each other. You should carefully look at them, when building your links. I′ll tell you about some of the most important factors that contribute to the quality of a link. For the convenience of us both, I′ll call them quality factors, or Q–factors in this book.

Relevance of your and your partner′s site

When I talk of relevance of a potential partner′s website to yours, I mean how close your partner′s offer is to what you sell. If a website has a complementary offer, it′s great to have a link from it.

Well, say you′ve got a travel agency and have a site for it. One link to you comes from a website selling detailed maps and travelers′ guides of countries and cities, while another link to you stands on a site that sells wallpaper.

The first website is connected with traveling, so it′s thematically relevant to your site, and Search Engines will value the link coming from it more. The second website is thematically irrelevant (travels and wallpaper normally don′t come together). And therefore, this link won′t be that trusted by Google, Bing, or Yahoo!

And it′s not only Search Engines who look at the relevance of a site that links to you. People who′re visitors of the website that sells golf clubs may be happy to click a link saying find golf course in your location. But if you′re a meat products wholesaler, the habitual visitor of www.vegetarian– won′t appreciate the link to you.

When discussing the relevancy of inbound links I cannot help but mention the Penguin update.

Add URL to Yahoo!

The Penguin update mostly affected the off–page SEO strategy of the websites. It targeted websites using illegitimate aka "black–hat" SEO techniques to manipulate Search Engine rankings.

The new algorithm checked the backlinks for relevancy and lowered the websites rankings for any irrelevant links. That′s why today relevancy is most important thing to consider, and getting links from thematically relevant sites must be your thumb rule from now on.

Right anchors

Say, I want to get high rankings for the search term wedding ideas. I will try to use this keyphrase in my links′ anchor texts.

Let me remind you: an anchor text is the text that′s the clickable part of your link. For good SEO, anchor texts of the inbound links you′re getting should contain your keywords, as anchors help search robots determine the relevancy of a link, which we previously discussed.

At the same time, all your links must look natural. If you′re getting 1,000 links, you shouldn′t use the same anchors for all of them. Think: if 1,000 persons naturally put links to you, they wouldn′t use the same anchor texts — people don′t think absolutely the same.

This is true to check — and I did check this myself. I asked my relatives to say in a couple of words what I do. Here′s just a few replies:
"You promote websites"
"You do SEO"
"You optimize sites"
"You′re in Internet marketing"
"You idle about in front of computer, just like these little kids" — that′s my wife′s granddad, just turned 89.

So there′s dozens of ways to say one and the same thing.

Consequently, there are different types of anchor texts, for example:

  • Brand name/Brand–keyword hybrid ("ralph lauren", "ralph lauren t–shirts")
  • Commercial or "money" anchors ("buy t–shirt")
  • Partial and broad match ("buy mens t–shirt online")
  • Non–descriptive ("click here", "view details")
  • Naked URLs ("Ralphlauren.Com")
  • Anchors in foreign languages ("t–shirt kaufen günstig")
  • ALT texts in linking images (which are perceived by Search Engines as anchor texts)
  • Other

So, how should you build up links not get hurt by Google and still go up in Search Engines? Just use many anchor texts variations to make your backlink profile look natural.

Now many SEOs argue how many exact–match anchors (which are most often commercial) one may have to be on the safe side. Some of them say 30%, others say 60%, but from my experience I can say that 10% are what most webmasters now stick to, mixing commercial anchors with brand names, partial–match and non–descriptive anchors.

So, in the view of the recent Google updates (yep, I′m talking about this crazy "Penguinomania"), we have to be very careful with both existing and prospecting backlinks.

Let′s recollect the table we made in the previous chapter.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5
wedding ideas wedding website wedding dress wedding gifts wedding planning
wedding ideas flowers wedding tips wedding dresses Australia wedding gifts personalized wedding planes
wedding ideas pictures wedding websites for couples wedding dresses Sydney wedding gifts Australia wedding planning classes
wedding ideas Australia wedding Australia wedding dresses pictures wedding gifts for her wedding planning schedule
wedding ideas shop wedding Sydney wedding gowns wedding gifts for him wedding planning website
wedding ideas forum   wedding dresses wedding gifts to parents wedding planning list
wedding ideas magazine     wedding gifts and favors  
      wedding gifts for wedding party  
      wedding favors  

Look at the first group of keywords. Though I′m specifically targeting wedding ideas, I′ll also use wedding ideas flowers, wedding ideas pictures, wedding ideas Australia and so on. Plus, you′ve got an even bigger list of keywords where you can take other terms to create variations.

You can check the anchors of your existing links either manually or using the SEO SpyGlass tool I′ve described in the previous chapters.

Good context for links

Links will look more natural if they come in a natural context. I mean, text around the link should also be relevant. For example, a perfect surrounding for a link "wedding ideas" could be:

Getting married soon? Make your wedding unforgettable! Get fresh wedding ideas at Jeremy′s and plan your wedding with us!

Here the link with the anchor text wedding ideas is used in a keyword–rich context and is naturally built–in into the text.

Don′t underestimate the value of anchors and context in which they appear. Better spend a bit more time and put some effort into writing proper link contexts. This way, you will make Search Engines rank your site higher in their SERPs, because your linking strategy will look more natural.

DO IT NOW! Write at least 5 different anchor text variations and descriptions with your keywords, following the above mentioned recommendations.

Keywords in title and body of the partner′s page

That′s probably another dimension of relevance. Search Engines put more value to links that come from sites that have your targeted keywords in their page titles and body text. Sounds too difficult? Here′s a real–life example.

When I met my wife, I not only liked the way she looked. I was pleased to find out that she also loved listening to Depeche Mode, watching Scarface and reading Tom Wolfe, and hated tomatoes just like I did. You see we had a lot in common, and it wasn′t a surprise to anyone that we married soon.

Same thing happens in SEO: if you are "friends" with some webpage, it′s supposed to have something in common with yours.

Of course it′s not wise linking to a competitor′s page, though it may have plenty of keyword coincidences with yours. It′s also unlikely that your competitor will place a link to your site on his. Still, it′s possible to find hundreds and even thousands of non–competing pages.

For instance, if you sell cats food, and one of your keywords is smooth–coated cats food, you could get a great link from a webpage entitled "Cats pictures — smooth–coated cats and kittens".


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#1163 2010-04-16 07:31:26 Ben Williams

Hi Dan,

I have a quick question regarding relevance. We build websites and have built a site for a national sporting team and have been offered a spot on their partners page which links to our site. Cricket isn't directly related to website design but because we built the site it does make it relevant.

Would it be OK to accept this link or would it be seen by google as a 'bad' link.

Thanks - and great work so far.

#1074 2010-03-21 23:27:24 Rituraj Sharma

HI Dan,

sometimes we have option to exchange link with a banner ad. If I am properly recognizable by my logo then should I opt for this with alt text ( contain keyword)?

#1105 2010-03-24 12:02:17 Dan Richmond

Yes, if there is a possibility to have a good alt text, you should use that chance.

#3764 2013-12-04 07:55:43 Seo marketing

but a textlink is preffered right?

#970 2010-01-25 09:07:28 Dan Richmond

@Paul Watchorn

Yes, that's really so. You'll find more info here in the "IP address" section:
<a href=""></a>

#964 2010-01-24 12:35:55 Paul Watchorn

I was talking to somebody at a chamber meeting, the talk was about 'networkin' and this web site linking came up, the chap I was talking to afterwards belived that because most of us used the same host, the search engines would mark down the importance of the link, can that be true do you think?

#857 2009-12-21 10:41:27 Dan Richmond

@Reginald Randolph

Reginald, please check Chapter 5.4 of this book - you've got an example there. Also, you can have ready-made email templates in the LinkAssistant tool.

#842 2009-12-14 07:41:05 Reginald Randolph


In requesting someone put a link to you, how do you go about suggesting a SEO-appropriate anchor, email?;

If email is the accepted manner, would you, or someone else, provide a sample snippet of a request?

Additionally, if the keyword or phrase you suggest is not used, how do you finesse it's use anyway?


#423 2009-07-06 07:26:56 Dan Richmond

<b>@stop dreaming start action</b>

Yes, for two reasons:

1) it still contains part of your keyphrase
2) your link campaign looks more natural, so you don't risk to get Google frown on you

#417 2009-07-04 11:29:49 stop dreaming start action

Can my site get to rank well in certain keywords if I insert some different phrases of keywords like above in building links. For example: I want to optimize keywords "wedding tips". Should I make a different combination with "wedding dress" as the density is less than 1%.

#300 2009-04-06 07:58:16 Dan Richmond

<b>@Donna Goodman</b>

You're right Donna, exchanging links with your competitiors can be very beneficial. Few people will actually take the time to browse through your links pages and it won't have an adverse effect on your traffic. The thing is that you may have a hard time persuading your competitiors to exchange links with you. But if you succeed you'll get a boost in the rankings, though your competitor will get to rank higher as well.

#1510 2010-09-06 14:42:11 Ivo Ignatov

Can this work if my site has a PR-0 and competitive PR-4? What else could I propose to make an exchange that clearly in my favor?

Any suggestions?


#272 2009-04-03 13:01:58 Donna Goodman

Hi Dan,
I have tried this out, so I would offer a slightly different take on linking to your competitors pages that have lots and lots of relevance and the same keywords as you do.

I tried this out a while back, and found the positives to far outweigh the negatives, and here is what I think I found.

I talked one of my biggest competitors to put a link to my site on their links page for a reciprocal link from my site links page.

They had conquered a no one slot in Google for several keyword phrases that I wanted to rank high in but did not as yet.

Within a week after that link exchange, I went from the second page on google to the first page, and then continued to move up to the top. I thought that the negatives of possibly loosing traffic to my competitor might come into play, but surprisingly they didn't. I found that I might have had one or two customers a month that took the time to go through my links page, happened to find my competitor, and did a clickout to their site, but only after they had spent a considerable amount of time on mine.

I talked about this with my competitor to see if they were having the same results as I was, as I only detected one or two entries to my site from theirs in a months time. Sure enough they were having the same results as I was. They started moving up in the rankings on keyword phrases that I had very high rankings on, just as I did with theirs, with little to no loss of traffic that we can tell.

I am just guessing here, but I would take a guess that when someone is looking for a targeted product they put that phrase into Google, Yahoo, MSN, or take your pick search engine. Then they start visiting sites and opening them in a new tab or window. If they don't find what they were looking for, taking into consideration all the different behaviors of surfing for a product. Then I think that they simply go back to their original SE Search and go to the next site, rather than take the time to go through ones link page which has a collage of links all of which are relevant to some page on your site. That is a guess on my part though, and I won't hesitate to link to a competitor, as long as they are an established force on the search engines, primarily Google.

What do you think about this aspect of linking to a well established competitor as I have laid it out?


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