No matter how you cut it, traditional link building still has a place in today’s SEO. It is a must to actively seek out link opportunities to supplement your other efforts, but the process can be drudging, time consuming work, which is why most of us choose to outsource it.
Let’s face it, good links are difficult to get. But when backed into a corner by a client demanding to see a long list of links, the temptation to go for “easy” links rears its head.
And we know that “easy” links, in a post-Panda/Penguin world, are almost often bad.
Maybe it’s a habit that carried over from the days where more links meant better. But Google made it pretty darn clear that now, QUALITY is what matters, and a link on a bad site is no longer something benign, it can actually drag your website down.
A website’s PageRank is just one of the many ways to measure quality, but relying solely on it will make you miss out on a lot of opportunities. When faced with dozens and dozens of sites to evaluate, over-scrutinizing each and every one would be counter-productive.
Aside from PageRank and Domain Authority, what would be some good indicators that can give you an idea if a link opportunity on a particular website is not worth going after?
Here are some things to watch out for:
Bad grammar and layout – Articles that look spun and employ bad grammar always raise a red flag. Most of the time these dime-a-dozen sites will also sport a generic blog-type theme. The appearance and content on sites such as these will give you the impression that the owners have little to no regard for quality, is not interested in providing value, and that the sites were created solely for SEO purposes.
Too many outbound links – This can be a tricky one as genuine blogs usually have a lot of outgoing links in their blogroll, but these should be links to other blogs and not commercial sites. Commercial links, if any, should be to recognizable brands or to sites with high PR/DA.
Suspicious and Bad links – These are links to gambling, payday loans, adult, sites, or those which offer free downloads of licensed software, music or movies. Although payday loans and adult sites are somewhat legal, they often engage in spammy and unsavory SEO practices that will negatively impact your site. Besides, these are niches that you don’t want to be associated with.
On rare occasions, there will be sites that will have such links hidden where they can only be discovered by running a link check. These sites might have already been penalized but still, keep a watchful eye out for those.
Accepts link exchange – Most of the time you’ll see this offer on legitimate sites, but link exchanges are generally not a good idea since it’s practically a paid link, except that you paid by putting a link to their site on yours. This practice does not promote natural linking as well, which is why it is frowned upon.
Only Offer Guest Posts Or Except from Everyone – Guest posting was all the rage and sites sprung up to fill this need often as blog networks. These sites often have very little or no other types of posts besides guest posting. This is always a red flag.
Accepts links from any/unrelated niches – Sites that do this eventually end up with a mess of links that nobody really uses. Directories that do this are no exception, since drilling down categories to see a limited number of sites is a waste of time when you can just search on Google.
Sites or blogs that are no longer being updated – This might still be a judgement call. Some may argue that it is still worth the link juice if it is a high PR site, but on the other hand, what is the purpose of putting your link on a website that doesn’t have anybody on it?
Sites With little or no social following or interaction can also be a good determination of a low quality sites.