There are many in the SEO world who would consider links the life force of the internet. More than any other search engine optimization technique, it is said that link building carries the most weight in ranking a website. At the most basic level, they help people find your website and create pathways to get there. If there were only one link that people could use to access your website, it wouldn't get much traffic.
Not all links are created equal and it's important to know the difference between a good link and a bad link. Let's breakdown what a link is and why links are so important.
Links are considered the first big Off-The-Page ranking factor that search engines use to determine the page rank of your website. You could think of links as a vote of confidence by search engines. In the early days, the more links there are the better off your website was. The same concept holds true in today's SEO world as well. Google was the first search engine to rely on link analysis to improve relevancy and that's when search optimization as a job path first began. It takes a team of SEO experts to build and manage your link profile.
To this day links are the most valuable search engine signal you can have, but is more better? With links and link building it's all about quality and not quantity.
What makes up a quality link? If you were looking for brand new Michael Jordan Basketball shoes, would you want a 100 different websites telling you to buy from them, or 3-5 that have a reputation for being an expert on basketball shoes? The Michael Jordan brand has more companies creating knockoffs than any other company in the world. The Jordan knockoff industry is a multi-million dollar business.
It's hard to find legitimate Jordan re-sellers that only sell authentic Jordans. Because of that, you want to make sure who you're buying from is a reputable Michael Jordan re-seller. Nike has an application process before anyone can re-sell the Jordan brand just like Google has a system to rank pages.
If it's a high-quality link from an authority website filled with experts, then it will boost your website's page ranking. If it's considered a high-quality link, then the website has most likely established, "E-A-T" in the search engine world. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness. It's the same thing if you were looking for a doctor when you get the flu. Would you want 100 doctors telling you the best remedy or 3-5 who have E-A-T giving you a remedy? A bad doctor telling you what to do, like a bad website linking to your website, can cost you in more ways than one.
If you get hundreds of links from some Chinese knockoff Michael Jordan website, it will hurt your ranking. However, let's say you had a link pointing to your website from Nike as well as Foot Locker and Dick's Sporting Goods to go along with NBA.com?
Those links are priceless and you can't put a number on how valuable they could be for your website and your overall bottom line. They can also send high quality traffic to your website. The people browsing Nike's official website are way more likely to buy then traffic sent from a website in China. Often times these are just bots sending signals to your website to boost their own rank or get you to click on their link.
You also want variety. If you have 1000 links from one website that isn't worth as much as a 1000 links from a 1000 different websites that are similar in theme or fall under the same umbrella.
For example, if the 1000 websites covered sporting goods, professional jersey's, forums about basketball or other sports or basketball shows, those links would carry a lot of weight - as they should.
If you have links from a 1000 different websites that include the history of China, Chinese McDonalds, Best Places to visit in China and hundreds of other websites that had nothing to do with basketball or basketball shoes, your website is in big trouble!
You can get good quality links by creating good quality, informative websites that people want to read and share. The content you put out can act as a link pointing back to your website which will then send a signal to search engines.