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.

Measure value

Once you land the links on your target blogs, it’s important to measure their value by looking at a few factors:

  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • 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.

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Comments

35 Responses to “How to Measure the Value of a Blog Link”

Danny Cooper on October 8th, 2008

That’s a strange way of determining if a link send link value, but if it works! My only concern is that the search phrase you entered looks extremely long tail..therefore easy to rank for..

wisdom on October 8th, 2008

yeah seems like the search phrase being used by that link on John Chow does not really show the potential of John Chow’s site. Nonetheless it does show that the link does work as far as search engines go.

Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

Some sites don’t pass link value at all – for whatever reason including penalties. This test is just a way of seeing whether or not a site is passing link value and anchor text. The longer the search phrase the better because it’ll be unique to just the anchor text.

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Eric on October 12th, 2008

@Danny – the exact search phrase is long-tail to an extreme, but is composed of several terms that are difficult to rank for – “Stock Picks” and “ETF”. The phrase is “user” friendly – important to Google.

Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

That’s true, but we used the example of the long-tail keyword because wanted to see whether or not Google was passing link value through JohnChow.com.

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Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

Danny,
The method works in determining if a link sends value by seeing if a site ranks for an extremely long tail search phrase solely from anchor text. Because of this, the phrase should be easy to rank for. We just want to see whether or not the link is translating into increased rankings – and then we can apply it to more general keywords. Does that make sense?

max on October 13th, 2008

Yes, it is a good find though that you can rank for anchor texts but that won’t be as effective as a blog post with good titles.

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stubsy on October 11th, 2008

Would be interesting to know who else ranks to stock picks with that anchor text, surely not just John Chow

Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

John Chow isn’t ranking for the stocks keywords – it’s a site that advertises via text links on JohnChow.com. That’s an important difference to note.

 
 
Article Writers on October 11th, 2008

Thanks for these tips. :) They’re very informative.

Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

Glad you liked them. Which part did you find most helpful?

 
 
Ann Arbor Web Design on October 12th, 2008

Very informative post, and very well explained. This is the most lucid explanation i have read about how links aid in boosting the SEO of a site.

Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

This explanation was more for blog links and how to determine their value when building links to your site. If you’re looking for a more general guide to link building in relation to SEO, shoot me an email and I can guide you to some good resources.

 
 
max on October 12th, 2008

Well, I think it’s easy to show up #1 for non-competitive keywords, I actually did a blog post about that yesterday here:

(But yes, it’s a good way to get SEO and traffic if you can “predict” the next keyword that the masses will search such as “iPhone”)

http://zedomax.biz/blog/seo-hack/webmaster-seo-hack-how-to-show-up-1-o n-google/

Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

That’s a good strategy to use (trying to predict upcoming keywords and ranking for them first), but it’s usually hit or miss. Most of the keywords you try to rank for won’t bring you much traffic unless there’s significant search frequency. I suggest you use a tool like Google Trends (http://www.google.com/trends) to see what’s hot, and incorporate them into your articles.

max on October 13th, 2008

Yes, it won’t bring you much traffic but yes Google Trends is a good tool.

I think the best way to simply target non-competitive keywords that people search, if your competition is PR3 or less at the top of search, it will be easy to top it.

For example, I made a blog post about “How to wear a scarf” and that’s bringing me the most traffic:

http://zedomax.com/blog/2008/09/25/fashion-diy-hack-how-to-wear-a-scar f/

Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense but heck, there’s no rules for SEO, I think it’s really a “feel” thing, sorta like playing short game in golf.

Okay, that’s my 2 cents. :)

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Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

Very nice. The cool thing about what you did is that you took someone else’s content (via an embedded video) and took advantage of its SEO potential by adding additional content and crafting your titles with good keywords.

I wouldn’t say that there are no rules in SEO though. If you piss off Google, you can say goodbye to the SEO opportunities for your site.

 
 
 
 
max on October 13th, 2008

Well, what I did is blog, part of blogging is all about linking to what someone else wrote, isn’t that how word spreads so fast in the blogsphere? But yes, if I simply used automation software, that’d be splogging.

Don’t piss off Google unless you are John Chow. :)

Gyutae Park on October 14th, 2008

Yep, that’s true but embedding a video is a little bit different because you’re porting the content over to your own blog rather than linking out. You can then add some text and good titles and rank pretty well while keeping visitors on your own site… A pretty good strategy.

As for John Chow, I wonder how much more traffic he’d be getting if he wasn’t banned in Google. But then again, he wouldn’t be this big if he didn’t manipulate Google to begin with.

 
 
Kim McGinnis on October 13th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Thank you, Gyutae

I appreciate all the great information-very generous review. I have been at this a couple of years now, and the rules seem to keep changing.

Frustrating in a way, but it does keep you on your toes.

I think the best bet for anyone with a blog or information site is to build a site based on a topic that you are passionate about.

From there the process seems to work itself out. btw, I loved the link you provided to BlogStorm – good stuff!

Gyutae Park on October 13th, 2008

Thanks Kim. The Internet marketing industry seems to change almost every week, and there is a lot more change coming. It definitely does keep you on your toes, but I guess that’s why it’s so much fun. :)

I agree with you that the sites you create must revolve around a subject you are passionate about. That’s what motivates you to keep at it for the long run.

Thanks for stopping by!

 
 
Eva White on October 14th, 2008

That’s one comprehensive method to value the blog u r working on.
Thanks for sharing.

Gyutae Park on October 14th, 2008

Thanks Eva, glad you found it useful. I’m sure it’s not completely comprehensive so feel free to suggest changes or additions if you see any holes.

 
 
Make Money Blogging on October 15th, 2008

Awww posted some comment here previously but they didn’t show. I think that the anchor text that is used to link to your site plays a big role too. Helps determine your ranking on SE for that particular keyword.

 
Armen Shirvanian on October 15th, 2008

There sure is a lot of material that can be analyzed about the value of a certain link toward another site. Some of these statistics plug-ins show the ranking in real-time, and it can be interesting to look at for a curious viewer.

 
Jacques Snyman on October 16th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Relevant anchor text is king!

 
Downloadic on October 18th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Nice tips, and they are very helpful…

 
JR @ Verizon Ringtones on October 19th, 2008

This is a very comprehensive and useful post. I like how you detail the link value and offer a hands-on method to evaluate link juice on perspective sites. Thanks! I think also commenting on do-follow blogs is another great way to get nice backlinks.
JR

 
Justin Vanhove on June 17th, 2009

It is quite hard to determine how much value a blog link brings to your website or blog in terms of ranking in the search engines or the value that search engines place on that link.

From all the SEO I have read pagerank is a big factor in determining link value. I would try to find pages with high page rank to get links to my website.

 
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