Do it Yourself SEO – Evaluating Incoming Link Quality (Part 1)


Many of you have asked me to share my insight and knowledge in search engine optimization, so I thought I would start the New Year off by doing just that. My overall stance has always been “It’s not rocket science”; however, it is important that you follow the rules or else you could end up getting burned.

It is no surprise that inbound links to your website is an important factor in determining your website’s search engine positioning. But it is critical to note that “the more the merrier” is not the approach to take. Not all links are created equal. Some links can dramatically boost rankings, while others can actually get you a penalty and drag your rankings down.

When building your own links, you should quickly evaluate a link’s potential value and determine exactly how much effort and cost should go into acquiring it. This blog post, a first in a series, will provide you the top nine factors we use to determine link value when building links for our own sites and those of our clients.

Possible Penalties

If a website has been penalized then it has probably been stripped of their ability to pass PageRank, and it might even pass on a penalty to your site through association. Getting a link from such a website is useless when it comes to boosting your search engine rankings.

To determine whether or not to pursue a particular website as a potential link partner, consider the following:

  1. Does the site rank in Google, Yahoo and Bing for its company name, website name and super easy, obvious keywords from its home page? If not, you probably want to avoid this particular site.
  2. Does the site rank for terms it’s trying to target? For instance, let’s say the site is about “Family Lawyers”; does that site show up somewhere in the top 20 for searches for that term on most of the engines? If so, it’s probably not receiving any penalties.
  3. Is the specific URL you want a link on indexed in all three major engines? Can you find it doing a search? If the specific url is not getting indexed, it’s generally not worth much in regards to passing PageRank onto your website.
  4. Does the site have any Google PageRank? If you’re seeing some Green in the Google Toolbar tool, it has some PageRank. A gray or white bar indicates a low PageRank page and/or a penalized site.
  5. What other links are on the site and the page you want a link from? Are these links on-topic, or are you seeing links to unrelated topics such as online casinos, loans, etc.? As a general rule, you should avoid acquisition of off-topic links, as it may ultimately be penalized in the future by Google.

If the potential link passes the “No Penalties Test”, then we evaluate whether or not the website is structured in such a way that the Google PageRank (aka Link Juice) has the potential to be passed along. More on that in the next post.

Natalie Waddell

Founder and President at Inc.
Natalie was spirited to start this company after a frustrating and poor personal experience when searching for a lawyer back in the late nineties. “I quickly realized that the tools available to assist someone in finding the right lawyer were grossly inadequate. Not only inadequate for the individual in need of a lawyer, but also inadequate for the lawyers in search of new clients. There had to be a better way to connect clients and lawyers in a more efficient manner – without wasting everybody’s time and effort”, explains Natalie.

Natalie brings a passion to the business that ensures the entire team strives to improve the service for both lawyers and the general public. To that end, she is committed to ongoing communication with our members and welcomes and relies on clients’ input to continually evolve the service to make it better for all.

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