What is a Link?

Anatomy of a Link

For those of you who know or have some knowledge of the many factors that go into what is a good or bad back link, let’s have a quick look at some of these factors

Domain Authority

Let’s clear one thing up straight away. This is not connected to Google (https://www.google.co.uk/#q=domain+authority).

They did not come up with the DA system or give its ratings updates, MOZ do. MOZ is an independent technical SEO site that is widely known and used for information within the industry.

So the only thing we need to know is this:

Question: Does Google (and other search engines) calculate and factor in DA when coming up with your rankings?

Answer – No

So domain authority isn’t important. Think about it. Google and all other search engines already have their own vastly more complicated way of calculating rankings. They have also already had these algorithms and been using them years before MOZ came up with their own largely arbitrary system. In short it is one of the biggest red herrings in SEO. In fact, when asked in the past Google has absolutely denied using it in any way.

Also, do a search for something competitive and if you have the MOZ toolbar installed in your browser, you will see that sites with lower DA outrank ones with higher DA. This makes no logical sense right? Well it makes 100% sense as Google do not use it as a ranking factor. Period.


DA does not calculate whether a site has been penalised either with a penalty notice in your Google Web Master Tools (GWMT) account, or by your rankings suddenly dropping drastically with an algorithmical penalty. So your site may be removed from Google’s index for some time yet still carry a high DA ranking. This is just one of many many reasons to confirm that DA is a misnomer and is likely to lead to more harm than good if you are setting it as a goal.

So, basically, worrying about your sites DA is a mistake. Worry about your rankings and ways to improve your onsite and offsite.

Good Link v Bad Link

How do we tell the difference? Well, we don’t on an individual basis. What might appear to be a fairly poor link, on it’s own will have no negative effect. It’s how many of these you have, where they are and how quickly they have appeared that will determine if they are good or bad. This is what differentiates the 1 seemingly poor link, to 1000 identical actually poor links that have appeared on one blog site in just 3 months. This is what will punish your site and be considered as spam or manipulative black hat by Google.

There are so many factors (beyond the scope of this guide) that factor a good and bad link, and many of these are fiercely debated. One thing is for sure though, it’s quality above quantity all the time.

Types of Link

There are clearly many different types of link (again beyond the scope of this guide). There are contextual, citation or directory links, do follow and no follow, blog links, home page links etc. All of these vary with terminology too.

So is one link any better than another? Well for a link to count it needs to be “do follow”, which is saying to search engines please count this, as opposed to “no follow” which says please don’t count this. They are both still seen by search engines and again it’s hotly debated as to whether or not no follow links can help.

Contextual links

Theese types of links are certainly the most powerful when it comes to rankings, so let’s take a quick look at what this means. A contextual link is a link on a page that is surrounded by relevant grammatically correct words (300 at least) that don’t over use key words. Then the link itself will preferably have anchor text (the words that usually highlight when your pointer is over them) that take you to a page / URL. These anchor words need to make grammatical sense within the sentence they are in.

There are many other factors that determine how good this contextual link will be, like the quality of the site it’s on, the age, the amount of other outbound links on the page and sos it goes on…
To be clear though, we are not saying just have contextual links as they are the best. Like in the good link bad link info, its a mixture of all link types that works best.

Having all your links of one type would again look suspicious and black hat to google. So it’s variety thats the aim here. Not just having many of what are perceived to be valuable links.

So to sum up, a contextual link from a reputable old industry related site with no other links coming from that page (preferably a home page) with good surrounding text and good keyword anchor text is a good thing. Just that all your links being like this would be unnatural looking. It’s only reasonable to assume that you would have all other types of link too.

How Quickly Will a Link Work?

Well, there are literally million of links coming and going every day and Google and search engines have to scan them, weigh them up against each other and then then factor them into their index. In short, it can take time. Firstly you have to wait for the page to actually be indexed (which is why a home page link is good as opposed to a newly built inner page) and then Google might wait to see what other link activity is going on on the outbound site (nothing to do with your site), then weigh it all up and update its indexing on all of its servers around the world. It’s suddenly easy to realise why this can take 2 to 6 weeks. In short it’s hard to calculate but a continuos slow stream of ongoing SEO work is what woks best.

How Long Do They Last?

This is an easy one. If an SEO company is building all your links then they may have a guarantee to tell you. Otherwise it’s down to how long the site or page lasts. This could be forever, or until the page or link can gets removed which could be at any time. This is another reason why it takes time for them to work. Over time, you will naturally lose links, but you should slowly be naturally increasing your overall link total.

Contact Us

Have a Project?

Get in touch