The Anatomy of a Good SEO Link

What are good SEO links and how to get them

People linking to other people: Good SEO Links
Good links are good votes in the search engines.

Links are the #1 ranking factor for search engines. Not saying that onsite ranking factors don’t matter. It’s just that links matter more.

You can thank Google for that. Google popularized the importance of links with their original PageRank algorithm. Back in 19-whatever, a couple of students holed-up in grad school decided most search engines weren’t good enough. They thought links were the better way to rank webpages in a search result.

Simply put, each link to a web page would vote for that page in a search result. The page with the most votes (read: links) wins.

What Is A Good SEO Link?

And that’s the way it was for years. Today, the “most links wins” concept is virtually dead. Over the past 10 or so years, Google honed its algorithm, by deemphasizing certain types of links while emphasizing other types of links. Sheer volume of links can still help for some things. But the more helpful links in competitive SEO, by far, are natural, relevant, and valuable links.

Natural = non-paid, editorial links
Relevant = linking page/site is topical to your page/site
Valuable = linking page/site is deemed valuable by the search engines

To illustrate, you can have 10,000 non-relevant backlinks pointing to your site from junk domains. But you will lose the competitive Google results game to a site that has 10 natural, relevant, and valuable links. Thus the goal of your SEO should not just be getting tons of links. That can help for long-tail terms. But those junk links will not help displace competitive terms in the SERPs. Instead, you should focus on getting more useful links.

How Do You Get a Good SEO Link?

If getting natural, relevant, and valuable links are the best sort, it begs the question: how do you get them? That’s where we dig a little deeper. The number one rule from the Top 5 Link Rules for SEO is: “Links reflect value.”

Think about that for a second. Natural links represent an unbiased, editorial endorsement from other website editors. For whatever their reasons, these other web jockeys think some content is so valuable, they don’t mind sending their visitors to other websites – without pay.

But there’s more to links than just value. Here’s a simple rule that works in most cases:

Valuable Content + Distribution + Editorial Good Will = Link Won!

To get natural, relevant, valuable links back to your site, you need three things. The equation fails if you don’t have one of these parts:

#1  Valuable Content: You gotta have the content, linkbait, or something that somebody in your niche deems valuable. Without good content, hopes for a good SEO link are greatly diminished.

#2 – Distribution: It’s the same problem with the tree falling in a forest when nobody’s there. You need people to see your valuable content. If website editors don’t know about your content, you won’t get a link.

#3 – Editorial Good Will: Finally, you need website editors to overcome procrastination, bad days, and a host of other hurdles to get your link online. Good content and good distribution will find editorial good will – but you still need it.

For a more detailed article on how search engines value links, check out Rand Fishkin’s recent post.