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:
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.
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.
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?