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The truth is that no one has an exact metric that can tell us which back-links to competitors are the most important or have the most value to Google. What we do have is an experience that comes from many years of link building and some basic tips that can make finding the right types of links much easier. Below are some of the questions you should be asking yourself when you have found possible back links:
- Is the page on which you are looking for a back link "on-topic" and related to your own web site? Look for websites relevant to what your site offers but have a different focus, i.e. submit to a gardening site if you sell garden tools.
- Is the page you wish to get a back link from already in Google or the other search engines? Copy the url for the web page you wish to get a back link from into Google and (hopefully) a listing will appear for it. If there isn't a listing there may be a (serious) reason for the web page not being indexed. There's no point having a link on a web page that isn't even in Google.
- When was the web page you are getting a back link from last cached in Google? When you are building backlinks you need to know if the page you are looking at is still getting cached. If a page is no longer getting cached then a link there is pretty much useless. Let’s not waste our link building efforts on an old ‘dead’ page. You can find the cache date of a web page by copying the web page url into Google and clicking on the cached link in the listing. This will tell you when Google last cached the page in it's index (database). If it was recent (within the last month) that's good; however if it's over six month, this suggests that Google has little or no interest in this particluar web page and the web isn't updated very regularly (if at all).
- Does the web page have any Google Page Rank? Google PageRank is a numeric value from 1-10 that represents how important a page is on the web. You can find out a web page's PageRank by adding the Google Toolbar to your browser. While not as important as a few years ago, PageRank is still useful for determining if new web sites are linking to a specific web page.
- Are there any unsuitable back links on the page from which you want to source a backlink? Try and steer away from pages and sites with "off-topic" back links for prescription drugs, adult themes etc. A number of links on sites with these other types of links is not too bad but if you are actively seeking large amounts of this type of back link (250+) Google may see this as counterproductive.
- How many links are on the web page? Google and the other search engines generally frown upon too many links on a single web page - any more than one hundred is generally not good and should your link be at the bottom and more than the one hundredth it may get ignored by the search engines. You can find out how many links there are on a web page by counting them or using the Chris Pederick web developer plugin with the FireFox, Flock or Seamonkey browser.
- Do any existing links on the web page contain text and if so are they showing suitable text? Google first gets an understanding of the web page that is being linked to from the text in the link to the specific web page. For example if the text link says "PPI Claims" Google assumes that the web page that is being linked to is about PPI Claims - if this is not the case Google will give little or no value to this particular link.
So, as you can see, there's a lot not only to finding a back link that is suitable for your site but ensuring that the quality of the site and web page that your back link is going to be on.
There's no doubt link building can be a very time-consuming process but inevitably it can be a successful strategy for improving your website rankings.