My Quality Link May Not Be Your Quality Link

Many potential clients ask me what types of links they can expect if they hire us. Like any other link building company, we have our own in-house link guidelines, which clients can adapt to suit their own needs.

Some clients take more risks than others, some have an in-house SEO team who guide us, and some simply have their own set opinions about what makes a good link. Regardless of what clients ask for though, we definitely have our own idea of what constitutes a good link.

Potential for quality traffic

The number one factor that makes me love a link is its potential to send quality traffic to a site. Now, not all clients have this viewpoint, as it’s very common for everyone to want links that improve their rankings. If I had the chance to get a great link that had loads of traffic potential for a site, I’d take it and accept a no-follow. Some clients would prefer a followed crap link though. As you can see, what is a great link to me might not be what makes a great link for a client…and as I’m being paid, I do what I’m told.

Quality backlinks to linking page

The second factor that makes a link fantastic is the backlinks to the page on which it resides. I’d like to see a high number of backlinks of course, but the quality of those backlinks is just as important, and possibly more so. If the backlinks are good enough, you can get traffic out of them as well as a rankings boost. If the page has a ton of backlinks but all of them are spammy, it might give you a rankings boost but I doubt it will give you any traffic.

Decent homepage PR

Although I don’t concern myself too much with going after the highest PR sites possible, I do believe that there’s something to be said for the homepage PR of a site. I’m not as bothered with linking page PR if the link is going on a subpage, though, because many subpages are new or may not have tons of links pointed at them.

Recent cached date

If the page you’re getting a link on hasn’t been cached in months, that may be a red flag. If Google isn’t revisiting it regularly, users may not be either. I prefer to see a cache date of sometime within the last 2 weeks, but more recent is even better.

Lack of spammy ads

If a page has everything going for it but it’s covered in ads, I would usually pass. With so many people trying to place their advertising on this exact type of page, it’s no wonder that this is happening more and more. I like to see a quality page that isn’t covered in flashing banners and Viagra ads.

Lack of external links

If a page is good but has a giant list of external links, I’ll simply think that it’s not a good opportunity. While there are some instances in which you’d expect to find a page that has loads of external links on it, most pages like this are just spammier than I’d like.


Many people don’t like to use image links because they mistakenly think that the alt text won’t help them. While there is no data to support exactly how much power an alt has over an anchor, image links can and do pass link juice. Who cares if it’s less link juice, if you’re getting more traffic because of a catchy image?

Then, there are a couple of things that I really don’t care much about….they don’t make or break a link for me, but they might for you.

Linking page PR

The PR of the page the link is on means very little to me, as toolbar PR shifts around, new pages may be unranked and then suddenly pop, etc. It’s just a very misleading metric, in my opinion. Clients love it, of course.

Sidebar link

While I do think that sidebar links have been highly abused, I do think that there are cases where a nice sidebar link will work just fine. If it’s a fashion blog that’s well-trafficked and I can get a sidebar link, I’ll take it. If it’s a sidebar link on a site with 50 other sidebar lnks, I’ll pass.

Basically, we all have our (sometimes vastly) different ideas about what constitutes a quality link. That can depend upon the niche, the client’s needs and wants, and fifty other factors. The key is that you should define your own standards so that you can more easily recognize a great opportunity when it arises.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building | Link Building: General | Link Week Column


About The Author: owns the link development firm Link Fish Media and is one of the founding members of the SEO Chicks blog.

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  • Djulian

    Love your article and would like to add it to my website. Do I just copy and paste? Do I need permission?

  • amandapixen

    What a great post! You stated how links are very important, the potential to send a quality traffic to a site.

  • Shari Thurow

    Hi Julie-

    Brilliant statements: “Some clients would prefer a followed crap link though. As you can see, what is a great link to me might not be what makes a great link for a client…and as I’m being paid, I do what I’m told.”

    I don’t always do as I’m told. My clients hire me (us) to be the experts. And since the client is not the expert on links (hence the “crap” statement), they can do the “crap” link on their own. Then they can take responsibility for the “crap” link.

    Your statements had me roaring. Nice work!


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