By James Agate on 1 May 2012 @ 5:39 PM.
The Penguin update landed and the SERPs got flipped upside down - I’ve not got all the answers yet (nobody has) and this post certainly isn’t going to be a “how to recover from Penguin” - it is simply a best-practice checklist for ensuring you only acquire links which are going to be worthwhile for you now and long into the future.
Guest blogging is really easy to get wrong, as with all SEO techniques, the secret sauce is the execution. It is very easy to destroy your rankings with some craptastic “guest posts” on low-quality splogs.
With this in mind, and taking into account the opinion (my opinion!) that bad links can harm your rankings, today I will cover a few of the things we look for when we are assessing a site’s suitability:
We look at a website from three perspectives
The majority of clients who come to us are looking for links to drive their search engine visibility so it makes sense that our starting point for assessing opportunities is how authoritative those links are.
You are bound to have your own metrics that you look out for such as Domain Authority, PageRank, MozRank etc. In fact Orange Line did a survey on the topic earlier in the year which identified what we SEO professionals look for in a link.
This is typically where most link builders would stop... hey it’s a PR3, great, let’s grab this link and move on. Our decision to always dig deeper is probably why we are weathering the Penguin storm better than some (not gloating by the way, as the whole industry is affected by a market move like that!).
We always perform a deep-analysis of links because even seemingly strong links (high metrics) can sometimes harbour dark secrets for example faked PageRank (surprisingly common), or their link profile consists of low quality links (impacting on the future strength from your perspective of getting the link), or they’ve got indexing issues which might indicate the site lacks trust from Google’s perspective.
It is usually a good idea to have a scan of the target website’s link profile to get a feel for the kinds of links that they have. Use your preferred site explorer tool to complete this e.g. OpenSiteExplorer or Ahrefs. You could use a more automated solution like Link Detective or SEO Tools for Excel but a quick check is often sufficient (once you get the hang of doing it) to get a feel for the links this website has.
A good way to determine how well indexed a particular website is, is to cross reference the number of pages Google has indexed by performing a “site:” search with the number of pages Majestic SEO and Blekko have listed.
If the numbers are pretty close then you know everything is probably OK (allow for pages which might have been no-indexed on purpose), but if there are some major differences, it could point to a website which isn’t trusted by Google for whatever reason that might be, low quality content, spammy link placements etc and is worth further investigation on your part.
Does the website make sense from a user’s perspective? The links that have the potential to generate referral traffic are really the ones that are going to stand you in good stead long into the future.
Google says we should operate as if “search engines don’t exist” and whilst that is a little far-fetched, only acquiring links that could drive direct clickthroughs is a very reasonably strategy as it will help drive higher rankings in the mid-to-long term whilst also driving direct visitors who may become leads and eventually clients - this could see your business through any search engine related bumps in the road.
If we operate on the basis that bad links can harm search engine performance then we need to make sure that the website is of sufficient quality and integrity to ensure it is going to support our website now and into the future.
Here is what we look at:
There’s no sense investing time and effort into securing a guest post on a website which is going to go offline next month or hold you back in years to come when the blogger goes rogue and starts overtly selling links left right and centre.
High-quality link acquisition certainly isn’t easily scaled but anything worth doing is worth doing right.
What do you look for in a link opportunity?
This content was published by an author that has no affiliation with Clubnet Search Marketing, we will sometimes publish content from guest bloggers and the views, opinions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of Clubnet Search Marketing.