All Links are Not Created Equal: How Google evaluates links

We’ve all been taught that links are great for SEO. And that’s why we work so hard to generate as many as possible. But here’s what many internet marketers don’t realize: links can do just as much harm as they can do good. Some experts recommend avoiding them altogether. Why is this? Well, it turns out that not all links are created equal.

How Google evaluates links
How Google evaluates links

You see, whenever Google sees your backlink, one of three things can happen: Google can increase your rankings in the search engine, your rankings can remain the same, or Google can penalize you. Let’s take a moment to discuss how Google evaluates your links. Once you know how Google views each link, you’ll be able to create an excellent link building strategy. But first, what are links?

What are Backlinks?

Whenever someone links to your page from theirs, it’s considered to be a backlink. And these links can do a lot for your SEO strategy. In fact, in the past, the only thing a website needed to do to secure a top-ranking was to generate a large number of links from other sites. However, as black hat techniques started to become the norm, Google decided to develop an algorithm that would determine the quality of these links. Unfortunately, though Google’s system helps to simplify things for them, it can be difficult for marketers to determine which links are helping or hurting their site.

Nofollow and Dofollow

If you want to build links successfully, then you need to be familiar with nofollow and dofollow links. If you get a Dofollow link from a reliable website, this lets Google know that the linking site trusts you. And in most cases, it can lead to a boost in your rankings.

Conversely, if you get a nofollow link, it lets Google know that the linking website may not trust you. All links, by default, are dofollow. So to make someone’s link nofollow, the webmaster has to configure their HTML code so that your link won’t lead to your site.

So what’s the purpose of nofollow links? If a website makes your link nofollow, it means that they may not want Google to associate their website with yours. Perhaps your site doesn’t have enough domain authority, or it features low-quality content. This isn’t to say that nofollow links are useless. Even though nofollow links don’t help with SEO, they can still generate a ton of traffic and increase your website’s visibility. Luckily, there are several tools available that will let you know if you’re receiving nofollow links.

High DA, Low DA

DA, also referred to as domain authority, is the overall authority of your website. How does domain authority factor into your linking strategy? Well, Google wants to know what type of sites are linking to yours. Do these websites contain low-quality content? Are they full of spam? Specifically, are their domain authorities extremely low? If so, this tells Google that your website may be a problem and they will likely penalize you. Sure, you may have thousands of other sites linking to yours, but it means very little if most of them are low quality.

When Google sees these low-quality links, they assume that you’re attempting to cheat the system in some way. Perhaps you’ve hired an agency to create these sites. You may even be paying these websites to link to yours. Whatever the case, Google punishes you so that you won’t succeed. This is why it’s so crucial that you take the time to create relationships with high-value sites instead of taking shortcuts — also, research domain authorities before asking for links. There are tools available online to help you check them.

Linking Practices

Not only can the domain authority of another website affect Google’s evaluation of the link, but also their backlinks. In other words, even if you receive a backlink from a site that has high domain authority, if they choose to start linking to low-quality websites, this will negatively affect your ranking. Ultimately, this means that when the sites that link to you are devalued, you are devalued as well.

Generating Helpful Links

The key to securing quality links is to focus on creating valuable content. This way, high-quality websites will be more likely to link to your site when they borrow your content. Include original images so that people find them and use them in their posts. Google doesn’t consider image backlinks to be as valuable as in-text, but they can still help. Try to include original expert quotes so that other websites can link to you whenever they refer to the quote. Create posts that include original data that other sites can link to.

Another great strategy is to get links through guest posting. Email your pitch to the editor–one that includes your topic and an outline. If it seems to be an original idea that is relevant to their audience, then they may accept your idea and link to your site once the post has been published.

The Takeaway

Most marketers are under the impression that the more links they generate, the higher their rankings will be. However, what most don’t understand is that not all links are created equal. Some links could result in a decrease in your rankings. So when you’re creating a linking strategy, you must know how Google evaluates links.

First, they give more value to links that are dofollow. Nofollow links typically indicate that your website is not trusted. Second, Google gives more importance to links that come from websites with high domain authority. This means that you should focus on quality versus quantity. And finally, the linking practices of the sites that link to you will be taken into account. Even if the website that links to you offers a dofollow link and has a high domain authority, if they link to low-quality sites, it may hurt your ranking.

Ultimately, if you want to get the most out of your SEO strategy, you must evaluate the websites that you’re getting your links from. Make sure they’re trustworthy and reputable. Also, create content that is original and valuable so that these sites will naturally link to yours. Most importantly, avoid black hat techniques as this will only hurt your rankings in the long run.

Isaac Adams-Hands

Full Stack Developer, Digital Marketer, and InfoSec enthusiast. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Western Sydney and his Business Diploma from Georgian College before joining various marketing positions in search portals, e-commerce, higher education, and addiction recovery services.

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