What Factors Give Value To A Link?

Over the weekend Wiep Knol published an article on Link Value Factors, which is worth a read if you’re interested in learning more about how search engines might place value on different links. It’s modeled on the more general Search Engine Ranking Factors from SEOmoz with a series of questions about links answered and ranked by SEOs and then having the results totaled to give you an idea of what might be considered more or less important in determining the quality of a link.

18 people in the seo community supplied answers and ranking. Some you’ll likely know and others you may not be familiar with, but they all provide some interesting answers. Wiep was also kind enough to create two PDF versions of the article.

Each group of factors is categorized as being part of:

  • Link Factors – factors directly related to the link itself
  • On Page Factors – factors related to the page where the link appears
  • On Domain Factors – factors related to the domain where the link appears
  • Dampening Factors – factors that might lessen the value of a link

Take Aways

A few things to know about the link value factors. If you read through all the answers you’ll often find a lot of disagreement by the participants. Pay attention to the correlation numbers on the right to see where there is and isn’t agreement about a given value factor. Understand that the answers are still opinions and not facts and you should be ok.

Where you’ll likely find the most value is in seeing the different questions someone might ask about a link. Whether or not you agree with the evaluation of the participants, a read through the various factors should give you a greater understanding of how a search engine might view a link.

A common theme of all the participants is that none of these factors work in isolation. Don’t look at any one factor as something you now must absolutely do or not do. There’s a lot of art in determining the value of a link as there is in SEO in general. A large part of that art is gaining a sense of how things are seen by search engines and then maintaining a positive balance.

From the bottom of the link value factor post:

“Having built and studied thousands of links over the course of 15 years, I can say with 100% confidence that link value is and will always be relative. The links that are valuable to one site could be useless for another site. The approach that succeeds for one site can fail for another. The real art is in taking the science of link building and modifying and then applying it to each site as required for success.”
–Eric Ward

Spend time learning the possibilities so you can develop an innate sense of the overall value. Understand the possibilities to better apply them to your site(s).

Link Value Factors as Linkbait

One more thing to point out is how the whole link value factors article serves as linkbait. Regardless of the value you put into the results or the specific answers it’s easy to see how the article will gather links to itself. Each (or at least most) of the 18 participants will no doubt link to it, which will bring in different audiences to the post generating further links.

The link Value Factors article will continue to serve as a valuable resource for many, which means more links over time. It’s not hard to see why this article will be easy for many to link to.

Note the idea isn’t completely original. The post clearly has its origin in the SEOmoz ranking factors post. You don’t need to be completely unique in your idea to develop linkbait. You can take an already successful linkbait and put your own unique spin on it to create something new. In this case Wiep went niche on the ranking factors and used the exact same concept to expand on one specific part of the SEOmoz post, namely links.

Keep an eye on your industry for content that draws links and think about how you can mine that content to develop your own linkbait content. I guarantee there will be a lot of SEOs this week thinking “d’oh, why didn’t I come up with that,” now that’s it out there it seems so obvious. Perhaps a Keywords Ranking Factors or Search Friendly Design Factors will be next.

Do give the Link Value Factors a read. I’m sure there will be a few factors you hadn’t really considered before and I’m also sure the answers given to each question will increase your understanding of links and get you thinking more about them.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

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