Linking Signals as a Ranking Factor | Lesson 13/31 | SEMrush Academy

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0:05 How Google’s algorithm works?
1:14 Authority of the linking domain
1:59 Referral traffic to your site

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Inbound links are the most weighted signal of relevancy in Google’s algorithm. You simply can’t do SEO without building or earning relevant links to your website. Google looks an inbound link like a vote that your website has worthwhile content.

Back in the early days, Google’s algorithm looked at links as a simple numbers game – whoever had the most links would win. It became clear that such a simple viewpoint wasn’t accurate, so the Penguin update rolled out in early 2012. The update adjusted the algorithm to consider the relevancy of each link instead of simply looking at the overall number of links.

Now, it’s incredibly important to be sure that you’re getting links from relevant sources – there needs to be a connection present – a reason for that site to link to your site. It’s no longer only about quantity – the quality of the link is much more important.

When you’re analyzing your site’s link profile or researching opportunities for new links, you can gauge the value of a link by looking at these factors:

The authority of the linking domain and the page where the link resides is the first thing to consider. The anchor text, or actual clickable text of the link, also carries weight. The type or placement of the link also matters – a followed link in the main body of a post will carry more value than a link with a nofollow attribute in the comment section of a blog post.

Think of it this way – if it’s really easy to get a link, it’s probably not valuable. If you can fill out a form or leave a comment on a post to get a link, those links aren’t really worth anything. Google wants to see links that you earn – where another site links to you simply because there’s something worth seeing on your site.

It’s also important to get a link that will pass referral traffic to your site. If the site that’s linking to you receives a lot of traffic, and the users are highly engaged, then it’s highly likely that a link from that site will result in referral traffic as well.

So – an ideal link comes from a site that gets a lot of traffic, where the users will follow the link from that site to yours. The other site also needs to be an authority, itself having lots of sites link to it, and lots of sites linking to the specific page that is linking to you. The page or even the whole site should be topically relevant to your site. The link should be featured high on the page in the actual page content, and ideally include an important keyword in the anchor text.

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