Since its inception, one of the foundations of the Google search algorithm (used to rank pages in search results) is the PageRank formula.
PageRank is used to understand the relative importance of a page based on the number of links pointing to it. While we know that there are over 200 elements that affect search rankings, PageRank is still considered to be one of the most influential factors.
Digital marketers and SEOs the world over have come up with various methods of building links over the years in an attempt to climb their way to the top of page one. The result was the use of all sorts of ‘black hat’ techniques (those that breach Google’s quality guidelines) to try and game the system.
However, Google has developed its ranking formula over time in response to these black and grey hat practices (particularly with the introduction of its ‘Penguin’ algorithm in 2012) in order to show us websites that naturally deserve to be higher up in search.
These days a good link building strategy typically orientates around the concept of content marketing. Creating great quality blog articles, infographics, videos etc that people naturally want to link to or share socially because it’s given them some form of value.
Adopting this approach should generate a link profile that Google’s looking for but it doesn’t hurt to analyse it and make sure you’re on track. I’ll save the detail of how to check your links for another blog post but for now let’s look at the 3 things a good link structure should include…
Like my time as a Personal Trainer taught me (in a previous life), a calorie is not just a calorie, the source is equally as important and it’s exactly the same for links. So what makes a link high in quality?
Simply put, if a linking page performs well in the 3 factors we’re discussing in this article, then that’s a very good start. The other factor to be mindful of is relevancy. Does the link come from a site with a similar theme of content as yours? E.g. the same industry or perhaps it has a geographical relationship, like a council website or local charity.
So a quality link is one that’s relevant and high in ‘authority’ (that’s a technical way of saying it achieves our 3 aims).
Having links from a wide variety of sources makes them much more trustworthy in the eyes of Google. So if you have 100 links from one domain and only a few from other sources it appears unnatural and typical of sites engaged in black and grey hat SEO techniques.
Google also looks at the number of linking C blocks to see if the domains linking to you are related. A C block is part of the IP address from where a website is hosted.
For example, let’s say your business has a number of websites from different arms of your company, all hosted on the same server and all linked to one another. Google knows that those websites probably have a connection therefore the links aren’t quite as powerful as those from truly external sources.
Here’s the simple bit (although perhaps not in practice) – If you’re getting high quality links from a diverse range of domains and C blocks then the only thing left to do is gain as many of them as possible. But remember quantity without quality and diversity can get you nowhere and in some cases it can be a step backwards!
A good link profile is hard to achieve and can take years if you do it right. If you'd like help with your digital marketing or even an audit to start you off, get in touch!