One Does Not Simply Buy Links – My Link Building Criteria

One Does Not Simply Buy Links - My Link Building Criteria

I love links. Links, links, links. I analyze them, I chat about them and I buy A LOT of them.

But what the heck is a good link? Do you know? Or do you think you know? I didn’t know until I spent some time speaking to both sides –black/grey and white. And maybe I still don’t know, but I think I am getting pretty close.

Let’s focus on guest posts.

As many brands have proven, guest posts are a fantastic way to get your name out there, be recognized as a thought leader in your space, and generate new customers. Even better, it usually doesn’t cost more than your time. With everyone wetting their trousers over guest post opportunities, I wonder if they are looking past a lot of important qualitative and quantitative criteria. I can tell you, many times over, someone released the newest, greatest link package, and through all the hype, I forgot to even ask to see the domains I was putting my clients on. Hell, I once purchased a link package named SPAM GONE WILD.

Times have changed, and if your game is durability, packages like the aforementioned (at least pointing at your money site) are probably a thing of the past.

I can’t be reviewing every damn link I build/buy for myself or my clients. Even though we are only building a couple handfuls of links per client per month, there is no longer the time in the day. I need a process. I need my team to be able to vet these puppies for me, and be able to sleep at night still. So, for your consideration, I have put together a ‘link criteria.’ A scoring system if you will, whereby if a given link scores at least x out of x, this link is good enough to consider purchasing.

Couple final notes before I lay it out for ya:

  • I don’t want to hear anyone say links ain’t sh*t. If that is your stance, bugger off.
  • What about PR, DA, etc? All this stuff can be faked. Less interested – though I admit I still occasionally look.
  • I use this checklist for blog outreach. It may not apply to every type of link.
  • I have already assumed you will be looking at a site that is relevant, and other such things.

Alright, so check this out, and please let me know what you think:

Tier 1 criteria is the most important to us, but meeting tier 2 in addition to tier 1 will make a pretty strong case.

Tier 1 Criteria (qualitative):

I would choose sites based on qualitative factors first, then quantitative metrics.

  • Has comments
  • More than one comment per blog post
  • Regular, weekly blog posts
  • Doesn’t have ads in content
  • Are in content links do follow
  • Has author box
  • Supports Google Authorship mark-up
  • Site is indexed in Google

For every spec that the site meets, it gets 1 point. We want sites that score between 5-8.

EDIT: I think it is also worth mentioning a few others:

  • Authority – is the site an authority in its niche/locale? ie. Mashable, NY Times, etc.
  • Diversity – does this link contribute to the diversity of your backlink profile? Is it a type of site you don’t currently have a link from?
  • Link profile – have you examined the sites link profile? Ones link profile can be very telling.

Tier 2 Criteria (quantitative):

If the site already meets the greater majority of the qualitative criteria, you will find that it will meet most quantitative criteria.

  • Site is at least 1 year old
  • Over 100 pages indexed
  • Over 100 inbound domains (NOT links)
  • Over 100 combined likes & tweets
  • Over 100 tweets referencing site, NOT tweets the site made

I will continue to add to my quantitative criteria as time goes on, but am not too worried about it. You could also add a scoring system to it as well.

Pretty simple stuff right? And most of it makes perfect sense, but how many of you overlook most of this? How many people forget to look if the bloody thing is indexed? Yikes.

It wasn’t long after I put this list together that I created my criteria for building Microsites or local lead gen sites. Whether I am buying a link, or building a site, it MUST pass manual review, and generally speaking, if the site meets the majority of the above, it is usually a decent site. At the very least, it’s a site that is going to allow me to rest easy. Who knows…maybe one day the first thing I do when I wake in the morning (right after checking my phone) won’t be checking my rankings and traffic.

Finally, as many are predicting, in the coming months Google will get tougher on guest posts, and such a criteria should help you steer clear from their axe.

I hope you find this simple checklist helpful in your link acquisition efforts. If you think I a missing something super important, PLEASE let me know : )

*credit goes to Anand of CommSEO and Pasha of GrindstoneSEO for their contributions to the qualitative criteria.


About Adam Steele

A SEO & Local SEO by trade, Adam spends the majority of his time creating new efficiencies through smart processes and the leveraging of technology. He is ruthlessly passionate about building smart, lean businesses, and exploring new, lean, internet marketing techniques. Find him on Twitter @AdamGSteele.

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