How to Measure the Value of a Blog Link
October 8, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park
Today I want to go over a few neat tricks related to link building through blogs. Blog links are some of the best links to attain for your site for a number of reasons: they provide quick bursts of traffic and exposure, they insert your site into the conversation with potential for buzz, they’re relatively easy to get, and they send SEO link value to your site.
Owning a blog myself, I know that I link out to other sites much more frequently than I would if I had a static content or e-commerce site. If you want to build links to your site (either organically or paid), blogs are great places to start.
First, know your goals
First of all, why are you looking to build links to your site? Are you aiming for long-term brand exposure? A quick burst of traffic and buzz? An increase in SEO rankings for your main keyword? Of course you can potentially get a little bit of each of these, but depending on your main focus, your strategy will change.
For example, if I was aiming to build the Winning the Web brand through links on blogs, I would try to get “Winning the Web” as my link anchor text. If I was attempting to increase rankings in Google for the keyword “internet marketing”, I would use that instead.
Know your goals before starting any link building campaign. You want to focus your efforts as much as possible so that you get the best results and prevent wasting time and resources.
Research the blog
Now that you have your goals in place, find a few related blogs in your niche that you would like to target. Then do your due diligence by assessing the value of a link on that blog. The following factors are important:
- Where on the blog your link is placed – links in posts pass more weight in terms of SEO than site-wide links in sidebars and footers. However, site-wide links may send more long-term traffic depending on where on the site it is placed.
- Whether or not the blog’s pages are indexed in Google – you can check for this by using the “site:” operator in the search engines. If the pages aren’t indexed, Google won’t know about the links and thus won’t pass value.
- Number of other links on the page – you don’t want to focus on attaining links from blogs that already have hundreds of links on its pages. Your site will receive few clicks and there won’t be much SEO benefit there because of the diluted value. It’s also a possibility that the blog is penalized in the search engines for selling paid links.
- Domain authority – check how authoritative the blog is by looking at things like Google PageRank, inbound links according to Yahoo (use the “linkdomain:” operator in Yahoo), Technorati rank, and domain age.
- Traffic potential – can the links on the target blog send significant amounts of traffic? Use sites like Alexa, Compete, and Google Trends to see the potential.
- Nofollow link attribute? – Nofollow is a link attribute that tells the search engines to ignore a link. If external links on the blog use this attribute, they’re still good for sending traffic, but won’t send any SEO link value. Whether or not this is okay with you will depend on your strategy.
Check out Wiep Knol’s Link Value Factors for a more comprehensive list.
Does the blog link send SEO value?
There’s a lot of debate these days about attaining links for SEO value. We all know that inbound links are a huge factor in the way Google ranks websites, but it’s difficult to know which sites actually send the value that increases rankings. Many sites are no longer useful for gaining links because their ability to pass PageRank has intentionally been shut off by Google. This can be caused by a variety of reasons including penalties in the past for paid links and link manipulation.
So how can we know whether or not a site passes SEO value to its links?
Here’s a method that was inspired by Patrick Altoft’s BlogStorm newsletter:
Evaluate an existing link on the site. For example, let’s look at JohnChow.com. It’s common knowledge that John sells links on his blog and has been penalized by Google for doing so. He no longer ranks for his own name but do links on his blog still pass SEO value?
Under the Featured Sites section in John’s sidebar, we see that one of the link advertisers uses the anchor text “Stock Picks – Long & Short, ETFs and More!”
In order to see if Google is passing value through that link, we simply do a search in Google for the exact match anchor text. As you can see from the screen shot below, the advertiser SharePlanner.com successfully ranks #1.
Now view the cached version of the page (by clicking on the Cached link in the Google search result) and you can see that the keyword “terms only appear in links pointing to this page”.
In other words, the search keyword doesn’t show up anywhere on the site itself. It only exists in the anchor text of the JohnChow.com link and yet SharePlanner.com is managing to rank #1 for it. From that, you can infer that JohnChow.com does in fact send SEO link value to its paid links.
Get the link
After doing your due diligence and coming up with a list of blogs you’d like to target, it’s time to take action and get those links! There are a variety of ways you can do this and the topic deserves it’s own book, but here are some ideas to get you started.
- Do a link exchange with other bloggers (reciprocal links aren’t ideal for SEO)
- Write a great piece of content that will be linked to organically
- Do an interview with the blogger – they’ll often link back to it
- Promote on social media
- Build a cool tool or widget
- Pay for the link, preferably under the table and in a non-obvious location
- Pay for a blog review discretely
Again, these are just a few ideas to get those link you want. Be creative. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
Once you land the links on your target blogs, it’s important to measure their value by looking at a few factors:
- Brand awareness
- Increase in SEO rankings for keywords
Monitoring these metrics is especially important if you’re paying for the links. They’ll be the deciding factors of whether or not you want to continue or move your resources elsewhere. Even if you’re not paying for links, the metrics will tell you where to focus your efforts for the most return. Good luck and happy linking!
I hope these tips are helpful for assessing the value of blog links in your own link building campaigns. Let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments section below. Do you do anything differently? I’d love to hear about it.If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.