We are bombarded with so many link building methods in the SEO field that it is increasingly difficult to know where we really stand. There are so many factors of a page or domain link profile that help it to rank highly in Google.
Below I have put together a piece of research that has taken me literally months to put together. It explores every link profile factor that determines where you rank on Google for the keywords you are targeting.
The areas looked at were:-
- Link Popularity
- Link Diversity
- Anchor Text
- Link Quality or mozRank
- Page trust or mozTrust
- Domain Links
- Domain Link Quality or Domain mozRank
- Domain Link Trust or Domain mozTrust
The reason why I am using the SEOmoz metrics is simply because I believe they provide an unparalleled insight into link factors. SEOmoz’s tool is an actual link graph and attempts to mimic the way Google may actually score pages and domains. Google toolbar PageRank has long been an ineffective metric for assessing rankings; however I firmly believe SEOmoz solves this problem.
The research involved taking 50 competitive keywords such as SEO, search engine optimization, internet marketing, credit cards, car insurance and many more, then testing the pages that rank in the top 19 places for the keywords.
The reason for picking competitive keywords was to make sure the first 19 results or first 2 pages were heavily targeting the keywords, this would make for a more accurate test.
The first step was to get the metrics for the 50 keywords on 950 webpage’s (there was some overlap due to pages targeting multiple keywords). Each metric was given a combined figure and an average was worked out for each ranking positions 1 – 19.
Average Link Popularity
- Rank 1 = 34000
- Rank 2 = 28900
- Rank 3 = 45678
Averages were worked out on all metrics, link popularity, link diversity, anchor text, mozRank, mozTrust, domain links, Domain mozRank and Domain mozTrust.
Each set of results were then re ranked according to each metric and then compared with the actual Google rankings. When rankings were established according to (for example) link popularity alone, this did not necessarily run in line with how Google were ranking the pages. Each difference in ranking position was noted and a final score was given to each metric according to how in line it was with Google’s actual rankings.
So the metric that runs the most accurately alongside the Google rankings will obviously be the most influential ranking factor as far as link profiles are concerned.
This is a long read, you may want to bookmark it and keep coming back to it, however once you have digested the data here I am sure you will be able to implement a more effective link building campaign.
Quick Results Peek
Don’t worry the above graph is not the end of this article, in fact it is only really the start.
It shows the percentage of errors each metric produced according to how in line it was with Google rankings, the graph gives you a brief oversight of which metrics performed well and which made the largest percentage of errors, or which ones were the furthest out of line with Google’s actual results.
I hope you’re following this so far, as understanding this information will help you formulate a more effective link building strategy. Knowing where to focus your link building efforts is a must for the fastest most reliable ranking results, let’s go through the data in more detail starting with the least influential factor working our way down to the most influential link profile factor.
Number 8 – Link Diversity
Link diversity relates to how many of your total links come from unique domains. This was a big shock for me being a link diversity advocate, I have always felt that having a diverse link profile will help you achieve higher rankings for the keywords you are targeting. This research suggests that even though it may be a factor it is one of the least important factors when deciding where to rank your site Google.
Number 7 – Domain Trust
Domain trust was assessed using mozTrust which calculates the amount of trust the links to your ‘domain’ carry. This metric is looking at the whole domain and it seems again it carries some weight with regards to rankings but is far from the most influential feature. Building trustworthy links back to your site is always recommended but is it essential for high keyword rankings? Not as much as you might think.
Number 6 – Page Link Quality
Now don’t tell me you’re not surprised to see this one here. I used mozRank to establish how much link juice flows to a ‘page’ from its link profile. Surely the more quality links pointing to a page the more link juice is passed, more link juice should equate to higher rankings, right? Well yes but guess what it is far from the most influential factor, proving that having quality links pointing back to your page is not enough, in fact a lower quality link profile can out rank a higher quality profile if it gets some of the next factors right.
Number 5 – Domain Link Quality
Again this uses SEOmoz domain rank to look at the quality of links pointing to a domain, or how much link juice is passed through the domain link profile. It is interesting to note that this comes in higher than actual ‘page link quality’ albeit only by a bit. Still when link building it is important to remember the quality of links pointing to your domain as a whole will have a significant impact on how well you rank for a given keyword.
Number 4 – Page Trust
The metric for this was based on SEOmoz mozTrust which calculates how trustworthy the links are that point to your ‘page’. The research suggests that the trust links carry to your page is more important than the actual link juice that is carried. This is something to take into consideration when selecting links, does the domain you’re getting the link from carry any trust? Trust is usually based on how many suspect domains you link out to, the lower the better,
Well here we go the top 3 most influential link profile factors……….
Number 3 – Domain Link Popularity
The sheer amount of links pointing back to your ‘domain’ as a whole will have a big impact on where you rank for a given keyword. You need to be building the link popularity to every page on your site not just the homepage, Google wants to see a highly popular domain and not just a link loaded page.
Number 2 – Page Link Popularity
Yes, you might have guessed, ultimately you need as many links as possible pointing back to your page, the total amount of links pointing back to your page is one of the strongest ranking factors of your link profile, get building and don’t stop.
Drum roll please!!!
Number 1 – Anchor Text
I could have probably have guessed this before I started this research, anchor text is THE most influential factor of your link profile. Using your anchor text effectively gives you the strongest chance of ranking on Google for your target keyword.
So what does the research ultimately teach us?
- Use your anchor text where possible
- Build links like a mad man/woman
- Build links to your whole domain and not just the target page
Obviously there are hundreds of avenues to go down from this research but let’s leave that for another time, I am guessing if you have read this far you are probably in need of a rest.
I would never normally do this but feel compelled – I would really appreciate you guys spreading this info as far and wide as you possibly can, not only has the research taken a great deal of effort but I think it also puts an end to a lot of link building myths, so please stumble, digg, email or just fire me a link if you can find it in your heart to do so Thank you.
You want to read the following articles if you are unsure of what the metrics mean:
Disclaimer – I am not affiliated in any way with Google or SEOmoz.org. The views expressed in this article are opinions based on my own research and interpretation.Line Break
Author: Tim (293 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.