What Makes A Good Link?
We’re covering how to judge a quality link from a crappy one this week. Rather than just relying on software tools, we cover the 9 areas you can look at to assess a potential linking partner and make sure you’ve made a good decision.
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Hi guys, Michael here before we get into the show, if you’re a Twitter user head to at service scaling, I’m tweeting a bunch of stuff. I’ve learned scaling our digital marketing agency, and I think you’ll find it pretty interesting. All right, let’s get into the show.
Unknown Speaker 0:15
It’s time for the SEO show where a couple of nerds talk search engine optimization, so you can learn to compete in Google and grow your business online. Now, here’s your hosts, Michael and Arthur.
Welcome to another episode of the SEO show. As always, I’m here with Michael Causton. How’re you doing today?
I’m doing very well. I’m here with other fabric.
You can ask me how I’m doing.
I don’t care. What I really care about is what we’re talking about today,
which is one of your favourite topics.
I think it’s everyone in the SEO world is favourite topic,
do you? I wouldn’t be so sure.
Well, people well, you know what, not everyone in the SEO world. But generally speaking, when it comes to things like blog posts, or podcasts or videos, link building, always seems to do well. So we’re talking about link building again today. But today, we’re talking about something we haven’t really covered that in depth in the past, which is how to judge whether a link partner or potential website is any good as a potential link. So excited, you ready to get stuck?
So excited? Let’s do this. Let’s do this. Okay,
well, we’ve got nine ways to help you quickly determine whether a website would make a good link or not. And we’re going to be ignoring metrics like tools, href, sem rush or that, you know, da der TF all that stuff, right? Because, like, they’re just metrics that those tools have come up with, we’re gonna explain how you can check out a site and assess it without relying on those things. Cool. All right, let’s do it. Ready to jump in?
I’m ready to jump in. I’m gonna go with the first one. Why not?
You can do the first one. So
has Google visibility itself, maybe I should work out a bit better. So what you want to do is make what you want to make sure is that the website that you’re approaching to get a link from has visibility itself. So essentially, make sure that it’s ranking for a number of different keywords, make sure that it’s ranking for the right keywords based on I guess, the type of website that it is. So if you’re looking at a, let’s say, a travel website, you’d expect it to rank for a variety of different travel keywords. Obviously, the higher the rank, the better. That means that Google sees that site as an authority, it means that the site is indexed that it has been penalised, and that it’s getting traffic. Yes. So that’s very, very important.
I would say it’s the the number one factor. Yeah. Because like, Google’s already rewarding that site. That’s that is pleasing to Google pleasing. Yeah, getting getting a link from it is probably going to be a good thing.
Yeah, definitely. And then, you know, you can use different tools like Ahrefs. I know, we said we weren’t going to talk about tools, but
we can talk about tools. It’s just a measure metrics. You know, Dr. 30, is a good link. Yeah, that’s too basic. So
so if you, if you use like H refs, you can have a look at the organic visibility chart, have a look at how many keywords are ranking and, you know, positions 123, page one, and then assess from there. If they’ve got a fair few keywords ranking and the the I guess the keywords are relevant to the site, then, you know, it’s a good, good start site. Yeah.
And then the next one, the next point on that sort of ties into that one, which is it has organic traffic, but there’s the there’s the rankings, but those rankings should be driving traffic. And importantly, it should be from relevant countries. Yep. So again, you can use Ahrefs, SEMrush, something like that, to get a feel for how much traffic it has. And obviously, the more organic traffic, the better. Conversely, if it has very little traffic, that’s a red flag, because it’s saying that Google is not really rewarding this site. You know, Google, if you think about what Google wants, it wants to send its users to a good experience. Yeah. And if it’s not sending much traffic to this site, yeah. Then that’s a red flag. Well, essentially
just means they don’t have keywords ranking high enough to get organic traffic. Yeah. So there’s two points tie are good enough keywords, they might have good enough keywords. Exactly. Yeah.
The other one is traffic, like the country the traffic comes from. So obviously, in our world, traffic from native English speaking markets, like Australia, US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, that sort of stuff. Good. But sometimes the site will have like a tonne of traffic in HS and then you go and look at where it’s coming from. And it might be from other countries that are not really English speaking and might be easier to rank in. And you know, there’s a lot of people that sell links that are trying to fudge the numbers so they know that traffic is a good thing and they might be ranking junk articles in countries that are of no use really, in terms of the traffic so that would be one thing. But then also looking at their keywords themselves that are driving the traffic. Because what some sites do, again, link people selling links have cottoned on to the sort of metrics that people are looking at in the SEO world. And they know that traffic’s important. So what some sites will do is go and try and rank for really high volume searches, but low competition, so it might be like a software error code or something like that. Yes, I’ll throw up an article on that. And then h ref says, well look at ranks for this search term that has 400,000 searches a month. Yeah, look at all the traffic this site gets, but it’s really worthless. So Millea keywords need to be relevant. And on on the theme of the site or the topic of the site.
Yeah, I guess to do that kind of high level research, you really do need to invest in something like H refs? Because it’s too hard to do manually.
Yeah. Like, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Like, if you’re serious about SEO, one of H refs, or SEMrush, sem rush.
We’re not going through where you want to call it,
I say potato, you say potato, but um, you need one of them. So where does assuming that you have the ability to buy one of those tools, which is relatively inexpensive? Yep. All right. What’s the next one?
Point 3.3. So does the site have a decent number of referring domains? So essentially, pretty simple. The more referring domains, unique referring domains pointing to that site, the better. That just means that if they start losing referring domains over time, it’s not going to affect your domain rating, which is not what we wanted to talk about. But essentially, that’s what how it kind of works.
Yeah. Which basically means if you if your site, you get a link from a site that has 10 referring domains, then five drop off, it’s lost half its juice was sending to you. So you want you want a site that has enough volume of referring domains that it’s going to be a quality link. foreseeably for a long foreseeably foreseeably. Yeah, I think that’s a word or a long time into the future as a word. Yeah. Just felt weird to say
yeah. sounded weird, too. But yeah.
But anyway, decent number of referring domains. And then let’s chat about domains a bit more, or backlinks. Because the point four we have here is the backlink profile of the site itself should not be spammy, it should be good, a good looking backlink profile. So what are we talking things like, you know, the domain is linking to them. We want quality ones, they’re like strong publications, you know. Hi, Dr. Again, coming back to Dr. But it’s a good way of quickly assessing the quality of a link in a potential linking partners backlink profile 10 times. We don’t want to see lots of like directory free sites, scraper sites that sort of stuff, real sites in their backlink profile.
Cool. Cool. What else? What else can we do to look at backlink profiles and make sure they’re not spammy?
Well, you could also look at the anchor text and make sure that it’s not spammy. So making sure that it appears natural again, you need to use hrs but looking at what other people are linking to the website with. So you would assume that you know if a site is geared towards one certain topic, you should see anchors that are relevant to that topic. If you start seeing anchors that are completely irrelevant, then that might be a red flag. Alternatively, if you start seeing things like you know, Viagra or random, like, crypto, crypto, things like that, definitely stay stay clear. Because yeah, you’re gonna run into trouble,
even just totally over optimised anchor texts, like, if they’re a home construction site, for some reason, you’re getting a link from that, and their backlink profiles 40% of that means that they’ve probably been doing dodgy SEO, and at some point, that site’s likely to get a penalty. And, you know, at best, it’s just going to be discounted by Google, at worst, it can hurt your site. So same sort of principles at play, when you’re assessing the quality of your own site, I guess you should be putting them into practice when you’re looking at the backlink profile for a potential linking partner. Yeah. Cool.
The other thing there would be TLDs. So making sure that they’re coming from English speaking countries, your comm.com.au.co.uk, I guess, depending on what you’re looking for, but yeah, those would be the three main ones dotnet dotnet. Yeah,
even even sometimes like duck Cove now, I O dot aIive. Virgin, like, let’s say in Australia, if we can get a.com.au TLD, top level domain. That’s good. You know, you want they’re really sort of strong signals if you’re trying to rank in Australia. So you might accept a site that has less traffic or if a little bit, I guess lower quality in other areas. If it’s a.com. Today, you because there’s not as many.com Today, you knew, you know, yeah. But like, you don’t need to focus on that. But we’ve sort of run into this sometimes with clients where people will be fixated on winning.com that I use when.com The dot nets all the time Oh, yeah, they’re fine.
Yeah, the problem is there isn’t that many.com au blogs and websites out there that are willing to link back a lot of the time. So it is a lot harder, cost a lot more. And the metrics are never as good as just regular.com sites. Yep. So, although it is probably, you know, good in some situations, I guess the cost to benefit ratio just isn’t there. For most clients. Yeah.
And then if you if you become too fixated on that, that’s when you end up working with people that will use a PBN or something, you know, like a.com. Today you PBN. sure you’re getting the TLDs. But they’re pretty junky links? Yep. All right. Well, a lot of the stuff we’ve just covered there, right is looking at using tools like Ahrefs SEMrush, to have a look at, you know, links and referring domains and anchor text and all that. Yep. But there is other stuff you can do from a visual pass over. So there’s tool support, and then the visual. So first and foremost, when you look at the site, does a topic of it makes sense. Because what you’ll find is sometimes people will just buy an old expired domain, it’s got like a weird name. So it might be like, like, electronic, electronic max or something because that was a brand. And then they try and convert electronic and max into like a cover everything blog. Yeah, it has topics on everything. And it just looks like they’ve done exactly what they’d
be like something like save to data, and then they’ll just be like some sort of generic. You’re like a general site that covers every single topic under the sun. And if Yeah, you can definitely tell that that’s been repurposed. Yep. So links,
and then I guess also, the topic should make sense in the context of your site, and what you do and what you are trying to rank for. So if you’re a home construction, focus business, getting links from DIY construction, like architecture, that sort of stuff makes sense. getting links from a ex sailing club site that has just been, you know, a new website has been bought on it, because someone bought that domain probably doesn’t make sense. First and foremost, what’s the topic of the site?
Would you avoid sites like general sites like that? Or mommy blogs, because mommy blogs essentially would cover every topic under the sun for that very reason, because then that you can approach them no matter what, I guess
I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t notify them. If that’s if that site has been created from the ground up like that. Yeah. But when you go, we’ve got a point later and checking out like Wayback Machine to look at it, if you can see that it has been something else in the past, and then something else, and then it’s just come back to life, excuse me, as one of those cultural sites? Probably would sort of, sometimes you can get with them because they’re working. They have tonnes of traffic. That’s it.
Yeah. Because those sites generally have good metrics. They’ll have a very high dr. A lot of sites linking to them. They’ll have a lot of keywords appearing in top positions and actually get legitimate traffic. So although they are kind of, you know, general, targeting different topics, you know, the metrics? Yeah, kind of are on point. So
yeah, so traffic and visibility, if they’re strong. Yeah, probably would. And depends if you’ve exhausted all the other options that you you know, if there’s better options, and
let’s face it, there isn’t that many sites for mining or like, you know, there’s certain verticals and clients that we work with where it’s difficult to find a site or blog that’s just specific to that one area. So yeah, a lot of the time, you do have to reach out to those types of sites which cover like, like you said, a catch all site that covers several different verticals, almost off the camera.
I would have been a disaster for our loyal YouTube viewers. By the way, this is on YouTube, we are sort of at 250 Odd subscribers now. I
think it is on YouTube.
We’re massive on YouTube around that, oh, cool. Anyway, let’s go on to the next point, which is it needs to pass a visual inspection. This is a big one. What are you looking at when you’re looking at a visual inspection?
I wish we could. Maybe we can overlay like a slide. We can on the YouTube let’s do that. Because once you see like a, I guess a red flag site, they all look the same. So I guess the first thing would be the theme. So sites that have a very basic kind of what would you call it like a very standard theme. They’re the ones to look out for? Yeah, so it’s hard to kind of explain that the once you see it, you can’t unsee it? Yeah, just super basic with just a very regular header, just like a basic news site. Ya know, kind of like customization Yep. Just yeah,
like the logo and branding are sort of on point like I’ve just bang together. Crappy logo, crappy font, low
resolution logo, like very poorly made. Yep. Like you said, crappy fonts. stock images just littered across the street. Every image is just a stock image.
Even the posts right like they’ll say the homepage it’s just a whole bunch of posts. Just read the title and the featured image but no, like, little love blurb. If not like nice to use it’s just a big Yeah, like, list of posts.
If we can overlay like a screenshot of one, yeah, video, let’s do it because maybe just a couple of examples just so you can see the trend. Yeah. And what if you look at the homepage, you’ll notice that there is just, you know, random topic after topic. Often crypto marijuana CBD oils.
Yeah. And then next minute would be like, commercial, commercial tailing must have must knows, alongside about foreign foreign exchange trading, like the most
random things you can think of not even categorised. Just bang on the homepage. Yep. Yeah.
The other one is that all often they won’t have an about page or contact page or any sort of idea of who’s behind the site. You know, most real sites, you can sort of find out Yeah, who’s running it? Editors, whatever, like, yeah. And then the posts themselves like how they format it, like a lot of the time they’ve big PBN, sort of junk sites will just publish a wall of text, they probably don’t even embed any images in the posts and stuff. And it’s just has comments turned on, but no comments left on any posts? It’s just really ignores
social interaction at all. Yeah. Or likes know, nothing. It’s just Yeah.
No links to social profiles at all. Like, they don’t have Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn or whatever.
Or if they do they have fake fake followers? And absolutely no, you know, no. person or interaction? Yep. Because some of them do. Some of them do go to the effort to create a Facebook page, which has, like, you know, 10,000 likes, but then nothing. It’s just barren.
Yes. But again, coming back to the point before about the topic of the site making sense. We’re not totally saying that you have absolutely have to discount a site if if it has social profiles, and they have fake followers. Like if that site is ranking really well in Google and getting a lot of traffic. And that does make sense from, I guess, to link to you. And maybe you would go with that. Ignore the fact that it social profiles, or
all your trash also comes down to budget as well. Like if you’ve got a smaller link building budget, and those links cheaper, then
why not? Yeah. And as we’ve spoken about in previous episodes, that these days Google really is tending to ignore links, it doesn’t like rather than penalise sites. So
worst case scenario, it’s just went past any value to your site, you might get backwards because you have less links pointing to your domain, but unlikely that you’re going to get local would touch would that penalised? Yeah,
like let’s say you’re assessing hundreds and link options in a month, and you’re only choosing a few, then try and do everything we’re saying here first, and then casting that a bit wider when you need to. Yep. So we’ve got two more points here. The content itself doesn’t make sense, does what it’s linking to make sense, sort of ties into what we’ve covered that but sometimes you’ll find on the site, you read the first paragraph of an article, and it wants to put you to sleep, or it’s just so painfully written that your eyes glaze over and you don’t read any more. Yeah, because they’re using either AI content, or just really, really cheap, you know, like Textbroker articles that cost them a couple of bucks, you know, a 500 word article. And they’ve clearly been written with no care as to whether a human ever reads it or not. Yeah, it’s just there for Google. And then the links would be shoehorned in. And so it might be talking about tiling, you know, how to clean grout off tiles, whatever. And then in the middle of it, it has like, best Tyler, North Sydney or something jammed in just makes no sense. And then well, that’s
not even that bad of an example, I remember seeing, you know, some sites will talk about, you know, babies like what to do when you have a new baby, and then it will link it to a family law. Because, you know, it’s like, you know, the way that they’ve come to that as you’ve got a baby, you’ve got a family, you know, you might need a family lawyer. So
yeah, at some point, hopefully, not immediately, no
having a baby, but just like general very general kind of posts that aren’t really about anything, and then just link to something super specific. That doesn’t make sense at all. Yeah.
And then all the other, let’s say related posts at the end of the page are about as we said before, all random topics, like stay away from that stuff. I would you know, if it really looks that obvious. Even if the metrics are good, you probably as we said, stay away from it and focus on the ones that pass all this stuff first. The last thing we’d like to do is look at Wayback Machine. So that’s pretty cool. Because it’s like a snapshot in time of that website. So you can plug any time machine if it’s a Wayback Machine, I guess. So does that. What is it archive.org I think is one domain that’s probably WayBack machine.com or something. I’m not sure but you can go there type of domain name into it. And this tool goes and crawls websites and keeps them in a database. is a snapshot of what they look like. And you can go back and look through that database. So any website you can check in, and if you see that in the past, it used to be a software company, and then it’s gone out of business. And it was like a domain registrar holding page for a couple of years, and then all of a sudden came back to life. It’s like a random blog. That can be a sign that it’s not the best linking partner. Yeah, definitely. Again, though, as we’ve said before, if that site has a tonne of traffic and visibility and stuff, that’s not a I guess it’s not a immediate, no. But if you have seen in the past that it was maybe a like, doorway junk page, like Nike Air Max, or Viagra, or whatever, in between being like a legitimate site, and then a new reborn blog, you’ll probably ignore it. Like the minute you see any sign of spam or shady stuff in its past. Just discount it.
How long before would you say a domain was repurposed? Would that be an issue? So I’m thinking, let’s just say someone bought a domain that was registered in 2003. And it was a completely irrelevant site, but then someone bought that domain in 2013. And for the last 10 years, it’s been something completely different.
For me, personally, if I’ve seen that spam, like clear cut spam, I just wouldn’t bother with it. Okay. If it was like one thing, and has not been anything for years, it was a domain, like, register a holding page and suddenly came back to life. If it’s got the organic traffic and the visibility and looks okay, then I wouldn’t be discounting it. But for me, the spam in there, like there’s just so many other options out there that it’s better to go with them. This stuff takes time, though, as well. Like there are yes, there’s all sorts of different tools you can use. Yeah, yeah, definitely. These aren’t even everything we do. Like we do, of course, look at things like TF, da, da, da, all that sort of stuff as well. But well, I
think, you know, going to the visual inspection point. I think now, we’re pretty good at being able to pick up sites which are trash. Yes, straightaway, you can just pick up the signals and you know, little things to know, not to even waste your time. Yeah. Investigating. Yep. So,
but starting, let’s say you’ve never done it before, you’re probably looking at a good 2025 minutes per site. You know, if you while you’re figuring it all out. Yeah, but I think you definitely should be doing it. If you’re doing any form of link building, you want to be keeping a level of quality control on the types of sites you’re reaching out to?
All right, well, that is the way we go about assessing a quality link option from a bad link option. Hopefully that helps. Go have some fun assessing sites. Sign up to h refs find up to hedge refs. If you haven’t already, use the free trial. If they have one. I’m pretty sure they would add now they change their pricing lately, and they seem to have gone more stingy. So I’m sure they have some sort of free I think they have like a $1 trial for seven days or something. Yeah. Well, $7 that’s how they get you your credit card details in and then yeah, and then forget about it, and then you get charged every month. Yeah, happens
Yeah. But anyway, hopefully you enjoyed that. We will be back with another episode of the SEO show next week. But until then, happy SEO ng
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