It’s easy to build links when you don’t care where you’re getting them from, but you don’t want to waste time building low quality links. Even if you’re going after easy directory links, you need to make sure they are actually worth the time it takes to submit.
There are several Firefox toolbars you can install to help make the process easier, such as the SEO Toolbar from SEOBook.com or the SEOMoz Toolbar. For this exercise, we’ll use the SEO Book Toolbar. Set up a free account at SEOBook.com and get the toolbar from http://tools.seobook.com/seo-toolbar/.
Is the Page Cached?
One of the first things that you should check is if the page you want a link from is indexed by the search engines. If it isn’t indexed, it won’t provide any value because the search engines will never see it.
After installing the SEOBook toolbar, click the blue “i” icon and look at the cache date.
If it’s empty, it hasn’t been indexed. If the cache date is from 3 or 4 months ago, the search engines probably don’t care about the page because they aren’t even coming back to see if the page has been updated. If the cache date was several days to a couple of weeks ago, Google probably considers it an important page.
In many cases, you want to avoid pages that haven’t been cached yet, but there are exceptions.
Sometimes a page might be new and the search engines simply haven’t found it yet. If it’s a directory page and it isn’t cached, you can probably skip it, because directories are almost always low value. If it’s a quality blog post or article that hasn’t been cached yet, it still might be worth trying to get a link.
Oh No, Not Page Rank!
Yes, toolbar page rank has a bad reputation from experienced internet marketers, but it’s still a useful tool that even many of the naysayers still use. If you don’t know what Page Rank is, it’s a measurement of the amount of links that a website or page has. The problem with Page Rank is that it doesn’t take into account the quality of links and where they are coming from.
Still, it’s a useful tool to get a quick indication of page value. In most cases, having a good page rank (at least 2 or higher), means that a site has some links coming in, and usually the links aren’t all that bad.
What Else Can the Toolbar Tell Me?
You can also look at some other quality indicators the toolbar has – Blekko links, OSE links and unique linking domains.
Blekko and OSE are 3rd party research tools that try to identify how many links a page has. If there are no links to the page from Blekko or OSE, it might not be a good page. If the website as a whole has a lot of quality links though, it can spread some value to the page you want a link from. This is really a judgement call you’re going to have to make on your own.
The unique linking domains number is a great indication of quality. Using this metric, if one site is linking to a page more than once, it’s only counted one time. For example, some businesses will purchase a sitewide link in the footer or sidebar of another website. Their link will then show up on every page of the site. Not every single one of those links is valuable, and the search engines are wise to those types of links. So the higher the amount of the unique domains, the better.
Everything else on the SEObook toolbar can be helpful too. I also like to look at how many links the entire domain has and how old the domain is.
I’m not able to provide specifics on what you should look for when doing quality analysis because it varies by industry. You just have to review the page and make the call.
If you have the time, I would also highly recommend you read “17 Ways Search Engines Judge the Value of a Link” from SEOmoz. It’s a little old, but it explains everything you need to know.