What is a Link profile?
Link profile – The cumulative grouping of all links pointing to a particular website. A link profile can be used to determine a website’s power, trust, subject matter, and content. Link profiles are important at determining where a website ranks in google search results. If a website has a high number of links from websites that are not trusted, adult in nature, spammy or against guidelines, the link profile will have a negative effect on rankings. If a website has a high number of links from websites that are strong providers of content or reputable sources of information it will have a positive effect on rankings.
- the types of links pointing back to your site.
- the anchor text of those links; and
- the way those links were acquired.
Google takes the above factors into account to keep SEO as clean, pure and white hat as possible. By looking at more than just the sheer quantity of inbound links to a site, Google can prevent SEOs from employing aggressive or “unnatural” link-building tactics meant to game the rankings, such as buying a lot of high-quality links that go live all at the same time.
Let me break down each of the above points for you so that you understand the significance of each.
The types of links pointing back to your site
The name of the game here is quality. This means that your inbound links come from legitimate, authoritative sources. Relevance is also key here — a link to your site should make sense within the context of the linking page.
As Neil Patel noted in his analysis, “A good link profile has lots of high authority links and no spammy links.” This might sound like common sense, but it’s amazing how many people will take a bad link just because it’s a link.
While acquiring tons of links from spammy directories or low-quality, irrelevant sites may give you some link juice at first, you’ll soon find yourself with a penalty. But if you play the long game and get links from high-quality, authoritative, relevant sites, you’ll do much better in the long run.
The anchor text of those links
Anchor text is helpful because it sends a signal to search engines indicating what the linked page is about. For example, you would expect a link with the anchor text of “Coca-Cola” to link to the Coca-Cola website; similarly, you would expect a link with the anchor text of “fishing supplies” to take you to a page on fishing supplies.
As Brian Dean found in his analysis of one million Google results, “Exact match anchor text strongly correlates with [higher] rankings.” But anchor text can also be a dangerous game.
A large number of keyword-rich anchor text inbound links to your site can look spammy or “unnatural,” and Google is cracking down on this — in other words, excessive exact match anchor text could potentially land you a penalty in the long run.
(The only real exception for an exact match here is branded anchor text, wherein the anchor text is your brand name, as this is natural.)
The thinking here is that people link naturally with what’s known as “diluted anchor text,” where people link with some words that are relevant and others that aren’t. Take an example from earlier in this article:
How the links were acquired
It’s no secret that Google is not a fan of paid links, and they have stated as much in their quality guidelines. When noting examples of “link schemes” that can have a negative effect on your site’s rankings, they list the following:
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links, or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link…
Now, I’m not going to preach one way or the other here.
If you aren’t going to pay for links, you don’t need to worry about this step, really.
If you are going to pay for links, be smart about it, and don’t make it obvious. Grow some natural links first, create good content, then buy links. If you suddenly explode onto the scene with dozens, hundreds or thousands of new links, you’ll be asked some questions.
Buying links is not always bad, but your purpose must be appropriate at the end. Ask yourself if the link is going to create value for users.
In other words, could you expect to get legitimate referral traffic from the link placement? Or are you only pursuing this link to boost search engine rankings? If it’s the latter, you may want to steer clear.
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