Link building and maintenance is crucial for search engine optimization (SEO), but how can you tell if a good link from a mediocre one? How do you know if it’s time to switch up your links? They’re not all created equally and the quality (and relevancy) of a link can change, which is why link maintenance is crucial no matter what your business or website. The best route is to have an SEO pro or agency managing this for you, but if you’d rather DIY, there are some warning signs that your links have gone bad (and unfortunately, unlike last week’s leftovers, there’s no smell test available).
Here are a few ways to tell that a link isn’t up to snuff for your site or it’s just no longer a good match. The good news is that cutting outbound link ties is much easier than a breakup. However, with inbound links, that can be trickier—and require requesting a removal from the other party. Are all your links making the mark?
The link doesn’t lead to a highly ranked site
Ideally the only links you have are high quality, high ranking and authoritative (Search Engine Watch offers great tips on how to get links from these sites). Think .gov, .org and .edu sites or sites that everyone knows such as The Wall Street Journal and other reputable media outlets. If you’re linked to a site that’s unknown and doesn’t rank particularly well itself, what’s the point? You’re basically just offering free advertising to a mediocre site.
It reads like spam
Google algorithm updates are getting savvier all the time, and simply looking like spam can be enough to lower SEO rankings. Check out the latest Panda 4.1 update summary from Search Engine Land to find out more about the latest. This might mean pop ups, slow page load speeds or just reeking of spam such as having ads peppered everywhere. Maybe you linked to a page because of a certain article, but it’s probably not worth getting connected with a poor quality site.
It’s no longer relevant
Maybe the content on the linked page changed or your company changed, but if you’ve found your floral business suddenly linked to a dog food site, that’s a problem. This is why link maintenance is so important and regular check-ins are crucial. Just because a link makes sense one day doesn’t mean it will the next, and it’s up to you to take care of it. This can take a lot of manpower which is why having an SEO guru do it makes sense.
You get an error code
Just as bad as a spam-riddled site is one that no longer exists and you get an error code in your face. What do you think your customers think if they get linked to a non-existent site? It makes you look unprofessional, unorganized and like it’s been eons since you maintained your page. This is frustrating and might just be enough to have your customers going elsewhere for business or entertainment.
The content isn’t good
“Content is king” has been the rally cry of SEO for years, starting with Bill Gates in 1996 and revered by outlets like Media Donut to this day, and the quality of the content you link to reflects back on you. Take a few moments to actually read that blog or article you linked to. Is the writing solid, does it sound professional and is it something you really want your name attached to? The answer to all these questions should be an easy yes, so if you find yourself balking that’s a red flag. You can probably manage a better link.
Link building isn’t fast, easy or particularly fun so no wonder people tend to fall off the maintenance wagon. However, prioritizing it is crucial for healthy SEO and your reputation.
Guest author: Anna Johansson:
Anna is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA area who loves to obsess about weird topics and then write about them. When she isn’t writing, she is outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school. Find her on Twitter.