The opinions in this post are my own and based on my own experience.
There are a lot of opinions and arguments about the quality vs quantity in the SEO world and the thing that keeps coming up again and again is Link Quality. But frustratingly enough, everyone’s definition of quality varies. We keep pushing for High Quality links but what ARE they? Where can we find them? How do we get them?
Michael Martinez posted an article on SEOmoz, repeating the words High Quality Links several times across, trying to drill the concept into his readers. He asserts that DMOZ and that Yahoo Directory is high quality. And then Matt Cutts writes in his blog a few days later that not marking paid links as nofollow will hurt your reputation in Google. Not only that, the topic of directories and shopping comparison sites over-riding “real web pages” was brought up, to which he responded with
Sometimes we think of spam as strictly things like hidden text, cloaking, etc. But users think of spam as noise: things that they don’t want. If they’re trying to get information, fix a problem, read reviews, etc., then sites that like aren’t as helpful.
So which is which?
How a search engine defines as spam is different to how a human being defines as spam. My goal is satisfy both expectations and my formula is a simple one:
High Quality Content + High Relevance + High Traffic + High Frequency of Updates + High Authority / Trust + High Editorial Control = High Quality Link
That is how my graph above is generated. That’s why directories are right at the bottom. Its no longer enough to simply list a link.
In my opinion blogs are part of the holy grail of links, and some of them rank higher than .gov and .ac.uk links.
Blogs, the frequently updated ones have a bigger influence at spreading an idea. They have large followers and traffic. Even Rand said so. Google loves blogs, love it so much that blogs can apply to form part of Google News. Also, have you ever noticed that blogspot blogs tend to get high pagerank quicker than other blogs, even if their blogrolls are a MILE long?
So the next time you have a press release ready, think about sending them to bloggers instead of Press Release directories and article sites.
User generated content websites (not forums) like Ning networks (here’s an example of one), fan websites, image bookmarking sites come second. Simply becuase there is more activity and interest in those websites.
You will notice that the first part of the graph is geared towards satisfying QDF. Query deservers freshness. And rightfully, a site that updates more gets crawled more.
The next set is the .gov and .ac.uk links. Yeah, it would be really cool to get those links and there are ways to do so, but we shouldn’t try too hard.
First of all, most of content on these websites aren’t updated as often. And like Wikipedia pages, the content on these sites are meant as a reference, so it cannot changed too often.
It won’t hurt to still create a page on Wikipedia though. Even though all external links are nofollows, the page itself will have generate authority and often ranks higher than your own website most of the time.
The third set is more about increasing dominance on conversations over the internet about your brand, product or website. Its more about creating awareness, accessiblity and communication. Having a profile on facebook and a news feed on Twitter come as a standard requirement if you want to have a voice in the internet marketplace.
However, its difficult to monitor the authenticity in these websites because its so easy to plug a commercial subject and places like forums tend to go off-topic. With the exception of a small handful (think Moneysavingsexpert) we don’t really see these sites as places to find information. One would more often that not, go to Wikipedia than to a hubpage created by a member who has been there for less than a few months.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at all try and contribute to these sites. You should.
The 4th part of the graph: this is when it gets abit uglier. Social bookmarking sites, with the exception of the big 4 (Delicious, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Digg) are mostly spammy and not-moderated. Directories fall into the same catergory. There are hundreds, upon thousands of copycat sites out there you can plant your link in but is it worth it? They can be seen as open to abuse (here an example: http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100405060802AAemtfK – how would you know this is not a self-plug?), and are useless to normal human beings who find these type of sites as plain noise.
How useful is a webpage with a list of links, and no original content?
Resources and partner pages are worst, especially if its on a commercial website. (Here is an example.) Half the time the links in there aren’t even relevant, nevermind useful. And who reads them anyway? Certainly not you and me and I don’t think the spiders care for them too.
And you know I said blogs form part of the holy grail of links? That doesn’t mean you should SPAM the comment boxes. Aside from the fact that it has no value whatsoever and you’re wasting your time, it’s just going to be considered as blatant spam and it’s not going to help increase your reputation on Google.
What’s the conclusion?
Pair quality content with a quality website and you get a quality link. Create human-readable, funny, awesome, amazing, weird, useful, informative, factual, interesting, controversial, though-provoking, helpful content. Then place it on a relevant, moderated website with high activity.
Don’t linkbuild. Linkbait.
And you will come to realize that to do all this takes a massive PR (public relations) effort. Therefore yes, I DO believe that the future of seo is PR.