Links have come under fire recently due to scandals with link farms and big companies using “black hat” SEO tricks where they buy links instead of creating them organically with useful content and online relationships with their audience. Taking links from everyone may not be the best strategy and while you don’t have to scrutinize every link you can keep an eye out for certain things that will tell you how valuable the link is.
There are five parts to a link that can be evaluated. The anchor text, relevance, placement, trust and outbound links.
Authority, while not one of the five evaluators of a link, is a big thing to consider as well because it will determine if the link will be helpful to you at all. Google brings up websites with an authority in the thirties so if you want to link to a website that isn’t in the thirties you won’t find much use.
Anchor text is one of the most important things to consider. This is what brought up spam blog comments and why you have to delete ones that are clearly spam. If you sell a product and are targeting that keyword you should consider using a link that includes that keyword in the anchor text. Search engines can detect identical types of anchor text so while it’s important to target keywords in anchor text also include some variety.
Relevance shows how connected you are to a page that you are linking to. If you link to a website that has similar content to you it will be more valuable.
The placement of a link has become important, as search engines have gotten smarter. People are now a lot more likely to click links at the top of the list then those at the bottom hidden in a footer. You want to include links that have a higher chance of being clicked on.
In order to build up trust with search engines you need to link to websites that already have trust with the search engines. If you know a site has trust built up and has content similar to yours you should feel good about linking to that site.
The more outbound links you have the less value they have. This is why directories seem pointless to a lot of people since there are so many links.
Links don’t need to meet all these requirements to be a good link. If you feel that the link meets some of these requirements then link to it. Having a link that meets two of the requirements is a lot more valuable to you then linking to some random site that won’t do you any good.