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While Google claims that incoming links are not the only or more important signal for how a page ranks, most SEOs still consider them a powerful ranking factor and a signal that Google uses to gauge the authority of a site or a page. For SEOs who are looking to acquire authoritative incoming links, Brent Csutoras shares several best practices for evaluating site quality for link building that Kevin Rowe shared at a Search Engine Journal webinar.
Brent first pointed out that as Google (since the Penguin update) specifically targets link schemes, it is incumbent on link builders to focus on acquiring links that do not violate Google Terms of Service (e.g. paid link exchange schemes, etc.) or otherwise bring a site's authority down (e.g. links from low-quality sites).
Kevin outlined the following areas for evaluation of potential sites:
- Content: Is the site content (written and visual) overall high quality?
- Admin: What is the site's business model (e.g. ad-driven, etc.) and is it connected to a reputable real-world organization?
- Link Profile: What is the site's backlink profile?
- Authorship: Does the site primarily deliver original content or is it largely guest posts/aggregations of other content?
- Reputation: What is the authorship reputation of the site?
- Technical: How is the site's technical SEO implementation (e.g. indexing, user experience, etc.)?
While there are great high-level criteria, identifying specific metrics are needed to make this sort of analysis actionable. Kevin via Brent suggested the following:
- Third-party Authority Scores (e.g. Moz's Domain Authority, Ahref's Domain Rating, etc.) can provide quick insight to help you find potential sites to target.
- Google's search quality raters guidelines can provide a system to help you grade to pages and sites for content quality, depth, and credibility.
- Weight your metrics to help you compare sites based on an overall assessment, not a single element.