How should the links that you get from other web sites look like? What links should you aim to get?

Let’s say you are in a position to get some links from another web site; how should those links look like?

Contents:

A. First of all some general considerations
A1. Links that are up in HTML code are more important
A2. Get links from other web sites, not from your own
A3. Have a diverse link profile
A4. It’s best to get links from trusted web sites
A5. Get links from linked-to sites
A6. Link position counts too
A7. Whenever possible, create a link which is useful to the users
A8. Get links that your competitor can’t
A9. Should you use reciprocal links?
A10. Text links are better for SEO purposes
A11. It matters where you get the link from
A12. Pay attention to the HTML code of a link
A13. Get links from web sites in the same field as yours
A14. Obtain links from sites near you
A15. Keep the links on the long term
A16. Format the links nicely
B. How to have 20 links?
C. Precautions
C1. Check for these
C2. Where should you avoid getting links?
D. How should you make your page itself?
E. Some conclusions
F. Bibliography

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A. First of all some general considerations

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A1. Links that are up in HTML code are more important

In other words, if you go to View => Page source in your browser for a certain page, the pages that appear higher in the HTML code are considered more important; I assume here that a certain word which appears in HTML in a higher position will also be displayed in a high position; if that’s not the case, then engines may give a different priority; you can see in the photo below how the HTML code in the left is interpreted in the browser in the right:

The top link is considered to be more important;
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A2. Get links from other web sites, not from your own

An external link to your web site is considered to be more important than a link you give to yourself;
Therefore, if you have a web site, it is more important that others link to your web site, than the links that you put on your very own web site to yourself;
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A3. Have a diverse link profile

Rather than having four links from one web site (a total of four links), it’s better to have one link from four web site (a total of four links); the search engines value diversity; therefore, aim to have a varied links profile; if you have an option to get a link from more web sites, go with that option, instead of opting for a lot of links on a single web site;
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A4. It’s best to get links from trusted web sites

That means that a link for a very renowned web page (New York Times), which will carefully select to which websites they link to, will be more important than a link from a regular web page on the Internet;
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A5. Get links from linked-to sites

You should get links from web sites that have, in turn, a lot of links on their own;
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A6. Link position counts too

If you can get a link inside an article, that link will be valued more than a link in the left sidebar or the right sidebar; the links in the footer may trigger SPAM signals; http://www.seomoz.org/blog/new-interesting-insights-into-google-rankings-spam-from-pubcon
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A7. Whenever possible, create a link which is useful to the users

So, you should look at a link anchor which clearly states what your page is about (instead of “click here” or “see this” or “check this out”, you should name your link “Fountain pens online”) and, whenever possible, also has a description; if you can make that description one page (and have a dedicated page on the partner web site with a large description of your link then yahoo!, that’s a great thing; on the other hand, if you can only put a small description of the page, it’s best you do that, rather than no text at all; but do remember to put at least some description (which should be made to be useful to the user) than no description at all;
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A8. Get links that your competitor can’t

What makes a link of a high value is the difficulty to get a link for a low quality web site; so, if a web site only links to top quality web sites, and makes no exception to this rule, then this web site is a much more valuable link resource in the eyes of the search engines; thus, it’s best to get a link from a high-standards web site than from one which can link to just about any web site on the web; this is known as “editorially-given link”;
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A9. Should you use reciprocal links?

Yes and no; yes, in exceptional cases, with long-term business partners, it’s fine to have some reciprocal links; on the other hand if you suddenly get a lot of links to your web site, and most of them are reciprocal (which implies you link to them and they link back to you), this will looks as an unnatural profile; a small number of reciprocal links is fine, though, especially if you keep those links on the long term (you don’t remove them very quickly);
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A10. Text links are better for SEO purposes

Let’s say you can get a link from a web site as either a regular link (text), or as a banner (image); which is better? Strictly SEO speaking, more value passes from a link which is text-only, than from a text which is an image; click-through ratio (the percent of the people who click on the link) may differ though, so it’s possible to get more traffic from an image-based link than from a text-only link;
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A11. It matters where you get the link from

All things been equal, let’s say you have an option to get a link from:
a. nytimes.com (homepage)
b. nytimes.com/category/article.html (an internal page)
c. smallbusinesswebsite.com (homepage);
d. smallbusinesswebsite.com/category/article.html (an internal page);
In this situation, the URLs are displayed in the reverse order of importance from which you should get a link; thus, it’s best to get a link from the homepage of a very important web site; if that’s not possible, it’s still preferable to get a link from an internal page of a very important web site; less important is to get a link from the homepage of a rather unknown small web site, or even less so than from an internal article from an obscure web site;
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A12. Pay attention to the HTML code of a link

A link to your web site should look something like:
<a href=”http://yourwebsite.com/category/article.html” title=”A small description of the link” target=”_blank”>Anchor text for the link</a> – another description of the link.
Notice:
a. There is no “nofollow” in the link; read more on the subject; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nofollow
b. I have used “title” for the anchor text; this is almost entirely for usability purposes only, it has little (if any) value for SEO purposes;
c. The link opens in a new window – again, little use for SEO; it’s used mostly to help the originating page keep it’s visitor, while also helping you get a visitor on your web site; please note that there may be problems with some pop-up blockers, although it’s rather the exception than the rule;
d. Attributes such as “name” or “class” or “id” are commonly used, and are fine to be used to manipulate the looks of the link;
d. The link should typically look like in the above example; if the link is made in JavaScript or Flash, only little will pass (for some search engines, it may even pass no value at all);
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A13. Get links from web sites in the same field as yours

Regarding topic of the web site, as you probably expect, it’s best to get links from web sites which have a content on a similar theme to the one of your web site; so, if you have a web site about dancing, a link from a web site which teaches tango is more valuable than a link from a web site in the locomotive industry;
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A14. Obtain links from sites near you

Regarding geography, it’s best to get links from regions / countries as closer to you as possible; thus, if you’re in London, a link from a web site of a business located in Borehamwood, which is near London, is better than a link from a business somewhere far in England or from the USA.
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A15. Keep the links on the long term

How long should you have a web site link to you? Think of it this way – the engines want you to get natural links; what is natural – a link you get for two months and then suddenly disappears, or a link which keeps being there for years? On a multiple links situation, this is even more obvious;
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A16. Format the links nicely

Regarding formatting, it’s best to have links which are in blue and underlined; links should be easily spotted within a page;
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B. How to have 20 links?

In case you get 20 links, you should make sure you alternate:
a. The anchor text;
b. The small description (or large one) surrounding the text;
Yes, you can have 2-3 links with identical anchor text and only slightly changed description, but avoid getting 20 links with the perfect anchor text and the perfect description; change some things, don’t make it obvious that you want to manipulate the engines (which, in some part, you actually do);
Also, you should make sure that if you get 20 links from 20 web sites owned by the same company, they don’t appear to be from the same owner (strange, I know); signals which “tell” the engines that the 20 web sites are somehow inter-connected thus and should pass smaller value to your web site if they all link to you are:
a. They are interconnected one to another (thus, part of a network);
b. The domain names have been registered by the same company/person;
c. They are hosted on the same server;
d. They appear on the Internet frequently together (so, if someone makes an article about one, it mentions the others as part of a network);
Finally, if you get a larger number of links (200 links), it’s best that you make the link profile be as natural as possible; thus, you should:
a. Acquire the links step-by-step, not 200 in a month
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C. Precautions

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C1. Check for these

When getting a link from a web site, you should check:
a. That the web page you are getting the link from is indexed (just search for the URL of the desired page on Google, or type something like
cache:Olivian.ro/2010/11/simple-site-review-piata-de-linkuri-in-25-tips/
on Google – notice that http:// is not mandatory);
A page that is not in Google cache is not that much important to get a link from right now; it may be indexed in the future, but the lack of indexation make it a less desirable target; if the page is brand new, you should wait for a few days to check if the page is indexed;
b. The web site you are getting the links from doesn’t link to bad neighborhood web sites; thus, check the links on that web site to see if it links to bad web sites; you don’t want to have your name associated with bad names on the Internet; also, the engines see this as a negative signal;
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C2. Where should you avoid getting links?

a. Comment spamming;
b. Guestbook;
c. Link farms;
d. Junk web directories;
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D. How should you make your page itself?

OK, you get a link to a page on your web site; how should that page be? Ideally, it should be a page which should attract other natural links; if you put a lot of effort to have a good link profile, also put some effort to use the visitors that come to your web site;
Also, it’s best to use this page as a link source itself; link to other relevant and important pages on your web site, which can benefit from the link value that the page has;
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E. Some conclusions

– It’s better to have an article on a web site than just a link on a given page; go for articles, rather than footer links;
– Vary the way the links/descriptions look in some degree;
– Get just a few links from a lot of web sites, rather than a lot of links from a single web site;
– The link you create should be useful to users too, not only the engines;
– Avoid having a lot of reciprocal links;
– It’s preferable to get text links, rather than banners;
– JavaScript and Flash links are totally not recommended;
– The homepage of a web site is a good place to get a link from;
– Avoid getting links from site networks, it’s best that the web sites you get the links from are separated one from another;
– You should aim for links on web sites which:
a. Have a lot of links on them;
b. Don’t link to anyone;
c. Are related to your web site theme;
d. Have a good history of keeping a clean profile (no spamming);
e. Have been indexed by Google (at least the page you want the link on);
– Don’t get links via:
a. Comment spamming;
b. Guestbook;
c. Link farms;
d. Junk web directories;
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F. Bibliography


Note: Also see the Yahoo! Group on which I present similar issues:IMRo. To join, email imro-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and reply to the confirmation email.

I am a Freelancer. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading. I live in London, and lots of things live in me.

2 Comments

  • samratkafle

    31 January 2011 - 10:04

    Great ideas included in this post thanks for info…cheers

  • Olivian BREDA

    31 January 2011 - 10:13

    Thanks.

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