With any SEO strategy, obtaining links from other sites is a crucial part.
Links work in a similar fashion to votes, the more votes you can get, the better position you’ll be in. But saying that, not all links work the same. Below I have listed the 10 backlink factors that Google looks for in a good link.
One of the many factors that Google likes is the age of a domain. If a domain has been around for more than a year, it will be more trusted and look less spammy. So gaining links from sites which are more than a year old is a positive.
Trust works similar to age. If a domain has been active for a long period of time and has been updated on a regular basis (compared to a website which has never been worked on) it will have a positive impact on the link that point to your website.
Gaining links from domains which are trusted and relevant to your subject area are classed as themed links and I’ve found they can really help with rankings in a big way. I recently gained a link from a very reputable source in the SEO field which really boosted my rankings for certain key terms.
For example, if you website is about cooking, you should really gain links from cooking and food websites. Ask yourself the question – would it look natural from a search point-of-view if you had a link from a furniture website back to the cooking website? Simple answer, no – this may look like a paid link and could lead to a Google penalty.
This couples age, trust and domain together to create authority. A great example of this is the domain http://searchengineland.com/ run by Danny Sullivan. Danny is widely considered as a search guru and he is well respected in the search field. Because of this and the work Danny has put in to Search Engine Land, this domain has become a leading source for vital information – which then leads to the domain being very trusted and an authority website partly due to the amount of mentions it has had online.
6. Dofollow vs. nofollow
Something which I have talked about in a previous post here is ‘do nofollow links count?’ Simply, yes, they do! For example, gaining a link with a nofollow from a website which has a lot of authority can actually work better than a dofollow link from a website which has no authority and trust.
7. Position on page
Position on page has become an integral part of link building. Gaining links from footers and sidebars are certainly treated different and look less natural – check out the video from Matt Cutts on footer links here. He clearly states they are treated differently and I’m pretty sure it is the same with sidebar links as well. My advice would be to try and gain links within content, it looks natural and flows better.
8. Page content
Very similar to relevance, gain a link from a cooking site back to another cooking site is a plus. But, if you are linking to a certain topic within cooking, so something like “how to make chicken soup”, gaining a link from an article or blog post talking about this is a massive bonus and will really help.
Wikipedia has a great article about PageRank (PR) here. One line within the article “Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank” really sticks out. The keyterm with this is important (aka authority), which again, relates to most of the points above. So, gaining a link from a webpage which has a high PR (and the reason for the high PR is because this page is important) will have further impact on your rankings.
10. Domain extension
This is something which has been highly debated within the search field, but gaining links from trusted domain extensions like .edu and .gov do help with rankings. These domains can’t be purchased like a .com or a .co.uk. You have to apply for these and here in the UK, it’s mainly areas which are connected to the government which have these specific domain extensions.
From all of the above points, I think it’s clear that the most important factors are ‘relevance‘ and ’trust‘, nearly every point could/does reference these and it’s something I look at a lot when link building against a domain.