There are various metrics associated with links that you should be aware of. These metrics can help you judge the value of a potential link, helping you assess whether it is worth pursuing and how much resources you should put into acquiring it. Knowing these kinds of metrics is also useful when you are doing link profile analysis (a holistic report of the number and types of links on a website), whether on a competitor’s website or your own.
Domain strength is the cumulative value of an entire domain. Instead of looking at the value of individual pages, we look at the domain as a whole to understand how strong it is.
It is usually displayed either as the domain authority or as the page authority of the homepage.
PageRank is calculated by Google and based on the number and quality of links pointing to a web page. It runs extensively from 0–10, with 10 being the highest. We can use the PageRank of a website’s homepage to find out how strong it is. Although technically it is only a one-page PageRank, it is still a good indicator of the strength of a domain, since most links to a website will be on the homepage, and PageRank flows from there to internal pages.
It should be noted that there is a difference between the “Toolbar PageRank” and the actual PageRank used by Google. Toolbar PageRank shows you installing Google Toolbar on your browser or using browser plugins/extensions that pull data from the same source. It is updated every 3-4 months by Google, which is different from the actual PageRank being more fluid, constantly updated by Google to be fed into their ranking algorithm.
For that reason, the PageRank you see in the Google Toolbar may be several months old. This is why new web pages mainly have a PageRank score of 0: they have to wait for Google to update the toolbar.
Domain Authority is calculated by Moz and runs on a scale of 0–100, with 100 being the highest. It uses several signals taken from the Moser crawler and tries to predict how well the domain will perform in the search results. This is useful with PageRank as another indicator of how strong the domain is.
In terms of link building, site strength is a good metric to use because you want to get links from websites that are very strong. If the links you receive are from strong domains, they will pass through more strength to your own website, which is a clear indication to Google that you have a good site that deserves to rank well.
For example, CNN has a PageRank of 8 and a domain authority of 99. A lot of websites link to CNN because it is an official website with high-quality content. Because of this, CNN is very unlikely to link to low-quality websites, so if you get a link to CNN, it is a sign that you have a good website.
There will be occasions when you will have the opportunity to get a link from a page that already exists on a website, as opposed to a new page created for a blog post or news item. An example might be an existing list of some type to which your link is attached; Perhaps your coffee shop has been added to a page with a list of Seattle’s best espresso.
In cases like this, you should assess how strong the page is so that you know how meaningful the link is to you before putting too much effort into getting the link. There are two main metrics, and they are almost the same for domain strength: PageRank and Page Authority.
We have already talked about PageRank. Page authority is another metric that closely resembles domain authority, except that it applies to only one page instead of the entire domain.
The higher the PageRank / Page authority of the page you want to link to, the higher your chances of helping your SEO efforts.
We have already covered the meaning of the anchor text; Now let’s consider what this means that it is a metric for SEO.
Anchor text may indicate to Google the subject matter of the page. So if I linked to a page using the words “fitness routine”, then it is possible that the page being linked contains information about the fitness routine. Google can then use this information as part of its ranking algorithm. In this case, they can decide whether the page being linked to should rank high for the keyword “fitness routine” and close changes.
For many years, having a lot of links pointing to your website contained your keyword because anchor text was a very good way to help you rank well for that keyword. While this is still the case to some extent, it appears that the strength of the anchor text is slightly decreasing as indicated. This is most likely due to the over-optimization of anchor text by SEO and Google’s readiness to penalize such websites through Penguin updates.
Rand talked about this in an episode of Whiteboard on Friday and gave some indicators of using it instead of Google.
Due to the changing nature of the perception and use of anchor text, it is probably best to be cautious when building links. Do not try to create too many links that have the same anchor text as them, especially if the links are not of the highest quality, such as links that are from low-quality domains, non-editorial sitewide links, or even links that contain too much anchor text ( For more information on link quality, check this post on digital). You should try to make your link profile as natural as possible, which often means getting links that use your brand or company name as anchor text.
Number of Links
When doing link building, you will obviously want to keep track of how many links you have created. You might also want to check that your website compares your competitors’ sites to see how far (or how far ahead!) You’ve looked.
As we have discussed in previous chapters and seen in surveys, the raw number of links pointing to your website is a strong ranking signal. However, you need to remember that the quality is the same, if not more important than the number.
As a metric, the number of links can be useful to us in two main ways:
- Measuring the progress/success of link building campaign
- To run a comparison between your website and competitors’ sites
Both of these uses still have to factor in the quality of the links to be useful to us. When we compare the number of links to the number of a competitor, it can sometimes show gaps that can explain the ranking difference. If you are trying to rank for the keyword “wooden table” and on the first page of results, there are more than 1,000 linking domains on websites, for the competition of that niche and the kind of attention you need. Gives a concrete meaning to earn to rank among those results.
Linking Root Domains
Not to be confused with the raw number of links, linking the root domain is an even more powerful ranking signal for Google. When we say root domain linking, we mean different domains, which are linked to links, not raw numbers of links.
For example, if CNN connects you to five different news stories, that would count as five links, but only one link root domain, because all five links came from cnn.com.
If the BBC connects you to news, it will be a link and a link root domain.
The number of root domain linking is a stronger sign than the raw link because it is a better indication of the true popularity of a website. If we go back to how Google thinks of links as “votes”, in that sense every website has only one vote to give you. No matter how many times they link to you, they only count as one vote, preventing the digital equivalent of “filling the balance box”.
Multiple links to the same domain can be the result of many things. One way is to link to many content pages, but the most common methods are what we call sitewide links. A sitewide link is a link that is placed in some type of templated element of a website such as a header, footer, or sidebar. The most common example is a “blogroll” link because the blogroll is usually on every page of the website.
In general, these types of links are not valued as in-content links from just a few pages. Sitewide links can sometimes be spammy for what they are paid for, not editorially given in the sense that Google would like to. In fact, Moz had published a case study of a site that was heavily penalized by Google for including sitewide links on its customers’ pages. Therefore, you should treat them carefully, only get them from high-quality websites, and don’t be too aggressive with your anchor text.
The relevance of the Linking page
There has always been some debate as to whether relevance is a strong signal used by Google to calculate the value of a link. Logic tells us that it should be because it is natural for relevant websites to connect to each other. However, what if you find a link about coffee on your website from the BBC homepage? You will not dismiss it just because the BBC website is not about coffee.
If we look beyond link building even for a moment, you still want to bring targeted traffic to your website so that you can try to convert visitors into customers. For this reason, you should try to place links on websites where potential customers can visit. This means that the value of links far exceeds SEO and can become a source of direct income.
As discussed in the anchor text section above, there are some indications that Google is moving away from anchor text as a strong signal and instead, full-page analytics can be used to give the link relevance. If this proves to be the case, obtaining links from relevant pages can become a strong ranking signal.
Right now, the best practice should be to focus on quality to ensure that you are being passed link equity and have relevance in the sense that you want to attract the right type of traffic.
Position of links on the page
Imagine that you live in Seattle and you have a blog about coffee. You are going to share a link with your readers on the website of a local coffee shop that serves the most amazing refreshing coffee ever. Where would you put this link on the page?
If you really want your readers to see it, you will state it clearly. Probably in the main part of the page, possibly near the top of the page, and perhaps within some content that illustrates how amazing the coffee shop is.
You probably won’t put a link in the footer, right? Many users cannot scroll down that page, and even if they do, they would not expect to find useful links in that section.
Google is able to locate the position of a link on a page and can choose a different value from it. If the link is in the footer of a page, Google may reduce the value of that link because they believe it is not a great link for users (otherwise, it will not be hidden in the footer).
Google can also use the position of the link in the total page. For example, they can see that 50% of all links pointing to your website are in some kind of footer. This may indicate low-quality link building, and Google may decide to keep a close eye.
Another example might be to let Google know that 50% of the links pointing to your website belong to the sidebar. Again, on its own, it may be legitimate, but it can also be a signal to Google that you are buying the link. Many link brokers will place links in the sidebar of pages as within content.
Because of this capability, you should ensure that you are getting links from websites that are happy to link from within the content wherever possible. There is nothing wrong with strange sidebar links, but a lot of them do not indicate a good link profile.
If you can comprehend these Link Building Metrics terms, you are ready to take the next step in learning SEO techniques. If you still have some questions about these terms and want to explore more regarding online marketing, then you can contact our highly experienced Digital Marketing Institute Professionals at 99 Digital Academy. We can help you teach & build your backlink strategy, help you even build your own new website!