One of the basics in SEO is that links to your site matter. The links you have from relevant web sites back to your own the better. There are lots of ways to get links, some of those methods have been talked about on this blog and many others across the internet but what’s a worthwhile link?

But before you can ask for a link, you need to identify the website that you want the link from. This blog is going to take a quick look at how you do that.

One of the marketing mantras that I am always saying to people when they are just starting out on their SEO journey is, “to beat your competition you need to do what they are doing plus 10%”. So how do you do that? Thankfully there are plenty of tools to help us. One of the easiest to use is Open Site Explorer. It’s not free but if you are serious about working on your SEO it’s worth the monthly fee.

This tool will let you examine the backlink profile of any website. You can then download that information as a CSV and slice and dice it any way you want. But be warned, when you first see the raw data it will look a bit daunting. Don’t worry though, after reading this blog you will have a much better idea how to use that information and find the links that your competitors are getting the most benefit from, ready for you to go and emulate.

There are a few important factors that need to be looked at in conjunction with each other when looking at the quality of a link. These are domain authority, page authority, anchor text and page relevance.

Domain Authority
Domain authority (DA) is the main headline figure. It’s a score out of 100 and takes into account a whole host of factors such as trustworthiness, domain age and number of sites linking to it. Generally the higher the DA the better a site will rank, but also the higher the DA the more search engines, such as Google, pay attention to the links that are pointing to other sites. This means that if you are able to get links from sites with a high DA they will have more of an impact on your SEO then links from sites with a low DA.

Page Authority
Page Authority (PA) works in much the same way as DA. It’s scored out of 100 and takes the same factors into account. However rather than scoring the site as a whole it looks at individual pages. So if a page is old and frequently updated (such as a homepage) it will score more highly than a brand new page that has just been created. Again the higher the PA the more authority a link from this page will confer on to your site.

Anchor Text
Anchor Text is the name given to the wording that is used to link from one page to another. This can be anything the webmaster wants to use and you will often see terms such as “click here” or your website address. It can be hard to get webmasters to use the wording that is most relevant to what the page is about (an example would be “freight forwarding jobs”), because it is hard search engines pay a lot of attention to anchor text that is highly relevant to the page. The more anchor text rich links you have pointing to a web page the better it will rank. However too much and search engines will penalise for over-optimisation.

Here is an example of a worthwhile link with optimisted anchor text but also includes the brand name to help dilute the over-optimisation slightly: Securikey security safes

Linking Page Relevance
The fourth aspect to look at when assessing the quality of a link is the relevance of the page that is linking to your site. A link from a page that has high DA, high PA and with great anchor text won’t be very beneficial to your site if the page that the linking is on is about something totally different to your site. So for example a link from a website all about making the world’s best sandwich is not going to be a big help to your page all about freight forwarding jobs. This means that we need to make sure that links are coming from sites and webpages that are related to your niche.

These are the four most important things to think about when looking at this data. If a link ticks all four boxes then it’s a great link! When we link build for you we always do this analysis of your competitors and look to copy the best of their links. Below I have made a note of things that your competitors are doing well and Oceanic should be copying.

When assessing the backlinking profile of a site the number of linking domains and total links are also important. Generally speaking it is better to have a lot of different links from lots of different domains, rather than lots of links from just a couple of domains. It shows that a wide range of sites have liked and found your website useful enough to link to.

If you have any tips of your own or to give us feedback on this blog post please comment below and keep up to date with our latest posts make sure you follow us on Twitter and Google+.