There are different types of links in the world of SEO; Internal Links (links within your site that land on pages within your site), External Links (links within your site that land on pages on other websites) & Inbound Links (links from other websites that land on your website). As always, I’m going to recommend quality over quantity especially when it comes to link building.
I am often asked by clients if it’s a good idea to trade links with other websites to increase traffic and improve SEO. More often than not they’ve been approached by a web directory that is offering a listing in their website in exchange for a link back to their website (a directory of other websites). My immediate response is to ask the owner of the website who has been approached with a trade the following questions.
- Would you use this website you’ll be linking to?
- Is it related to your content or product/service?
- Does it benefit you and/or your visitors?
If the answer is yes to those three questions then I’ll do a little bit of research to see if it’s going to help or hurt your SEO. Yup, you read right, linking to an external website could damage your rankings (your position in search results) and your page rank (quality score of your website).
One of the first things I do is check the website’s page rank. To do this, I use Firefox with a plugin called “SEO for Firefox” made by SEOBOOK. All I do is use the Lookup Tool found under the “Tools” menu and enter the destination url of the link you are considering as a trade. You’ll see when the site was first created, the page rank score (from 1 to 10) and an overview of all the other websites on the web that are already linking to this destination url.
If the site looks like it’s “paid its dues”, has a page rank higher than yours and more than a handful of inbound links… I say go for it, otherwise, if the site is brand new, has a page rank of 0 and no inbound links… you might want to hold off and give them 6 months to a year to gain some credibility before you put yours on the line for them.
With the new Penguin Algorithm that Seth mentioned last week, a lot of the “low quality” links are going to destroy those high ranking websites that are completely over-optimized with keyword stuffing and inbound links generated by robots and spam. Don’t link to anyone who may be using these “black help” link building techniques that are automated. If they go down anyone associated with them will be affected.