31 Oct 2011

7 Criteria to Consider When Building Links

October 31, 2011Link Building

7 Criteria to Consider When Building Links

Link building requires that you look at a number of factors before requesting a link.  Since the Panda update it is especially important to find good quality links and to stay away from sites that might actually harm your website and its reputation.  The following criteria should be considered when weighing a request to another site.  While it is rare to find a site that meets all the criteria, you must weigh the relative value of each criterion to determine a good fit for your anchor text.

These are the criteria you should consider when linking to other sites:

7 Criteria to Consider When Building Links

Page Rank (PR) on the Domain and the Placement Page

SEO’s will argue the relative value of Google’s PageRank these days but when I look for a good site for a potential link request, I do consider PR.  It is a quick and easy indicator.

PR is important, especially if you see it flowing through the website.  Look at the home page and content pages to determine if the site passes link value to its internal pages.

Also, consider the PR of the placement page.  Often times the page PR is low or non-existent.  Taking a ‘snapshot’ of the PR at the time of placement may make it seem like a no-value or low-value link but it’s possible the page will earn PR at the next Google update.

While I try to place links on sites with at least a PR2 on the home page, I often find sites that are new and don’t have PR but they do have great content, great layout and traffic.  These will eventually earn PR and the link will have been on the site as the ranking goes up.

Page Authority (PA)

Page Authority is a metric provided by SEOMoz tools. Consider sites with at least a 20 on PA.  The caveat is similar to the example above where you might find a great site that just hasn’t been around a long time.  You might go below the 20 but it will be for good reason:  relevancy, placement on the page and other criteria discussed in this post.

Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority is also a metric provided by SEOMoz tools. Again, look for sites that have at least a 20 on DA.  The same criteria apply as in the example of page authority above.


Determine if the site is relevant in terms of content, images or focus to your site and/or the keyword phrases.  The more relevant, the more value this site has.  You might also find sites that have content that does not specifically focus on your keyword but may be of a more general related topic.  For example, if placing links for ‘high blood pressure’ you may find a health site or a fitness site with related topics that would be appropriate.

Do Follow Links

Most of the links you will acquire will be ‘do follow’ links, but you will also find sites that will have ‘no-follow’ links.  Link building should be natural and ‘no follow’ links are part of that natural link profile.  In fact, many respected SEOs feel many ‘no follow’ links are not only followed by the search engines, but do help with link juice. I would concur with those SEOs.


Sometimes a poor-looking site gets great traffic.  I like high traffic sites because not only do they provide link value there is also an opportunity that visitors will click the link and generate traffic back to your site.  High traffic often trumps some of the other criteria like PA and DA.  I will take traffic from a site over link juice any day.

Anchor Text

Target sites that accept anchor text links.  Vary your text, as this is a part of natural link building.  It is not a good idea to only use one keyword or keyword phrase when link building.

Page Placement

Since the Google Panda update, you should focus mostly on in-content links as these types of links are of the most value.

Sidebars links can be valuable but only if the other links in that area of the site are relevant to the category and/or content.

For example, an anchor text link on a fashion blog would be fine if all the other links were fashion or brand links related to fashion.  A site that has Viagra, Gaming and other category links all in a column should be avoided.

Link building can be very subjective, but I feel those are seven criteria you should consider before requesting or placing a link.

So, what criteria do you use when considering a site for a link request?  Do you use the criteria above or are there other things you consider as well?


  • Len Nov 01, 2011

    I’ve been following your blog posts via linked in for some time now. I am just learning SEO and find everything you guys are saying to be of value. I have been building .edu links via responding to peoples blogs where I have found information related to my real estate topic. Question to you is that by responding on VM’s blog here do I gain SEO juice from VM as well?

    I have also heard that one should put their keyword in place of their name so that that keyword is linked to the site. Is that true? I don’t do that cause it seems like that is sort of gaming Google a bit and that most admin’s would just delete the comment because they see that you are gaming the system. What are your thoughts?

    Like I said, I am new and just learning so any insight you could provide would be helpful.

  • Gyi Tsakalakis Nov 02, 2011

    Thanks for this Mike. Good reminder. I also concur on ‘nofollow’. If they’re in GWMT, Google’s keeping track.

  • Kelli Brown Nov 08, 2011

    Hi Mike – great article, and apologies for being late to the comment party.
    I agree with all of your criteria and think they are great benchmarks for link building, but I’m interested in how you chose the numbers for PR and DA/PA. I guess I was surprised to see something as low as a PR of 2 as a good thing, and ditto on DA/PA of 20. Are we setting our link building sights too high? I’m wondering if we’re being too snobby in our link building efforts. Thanks!