Link building continues to be a big investment for many SEOs and many brands.
But a lot of that investment goes down the drain because SEOs and brands struggle to recognize where the highest value for links comes from.
Over the years the specific methodology by which links are scored and the value they pass to websites has changed. It will continue to change in the future. We believe that there are some current factors that are critical to link building in 2020 that will continue to have increasing importance into the future.
The three factors important to link building in 2020 are:
- Recency — how much time has passed since the link was built.
- Authority — how popular the link origination website is with the public.
- Relevance — how relevant the link origination website or page is to your content or keyword.
Here’s a quick video that summarizes these concepts:
Links played a big role in Google’s innovation of the search engine industry in the early 2000’s.
Back then, Google used links to help improve its crawling and indexing of the web while simultaneously using links as an indicator that one website was endorsing another. The simple formula of more links equating to better ranking was never more true than those early days.
Since then, Google has meaningfully evolved its approach to evaluating links and weighing them in its algorithm (its system of ordering websites based on relevance to a particular query or keyword). Part of this evolution is driven by the evolution of the internet itself and the ways in which SEOs have tried to manipulate search engines.
The big three factors, as noted above, are recency, authority, and relevance.
Recency is how recently the content featuring the link was posted.
Given the enormous volume of content that is published online every hour, it’s no surprise that recency is an increasingly important factor in the value of a link. Most content trends online, especially in consumer-facing categories, tend to rapidly change. So links, too, become weighted based on how recently the link was published.
Link builders and SEOs need to be thinking about how to not only build high authority and relevance links, but also how to generate links more frequently and—at present—without having huge time investments made. Those that can identify that strategy will be more successful.
Authority is one of the longest-standing metrics for link valuation and is largely based on the popularity of the website providing the link as well as the page that is providing the link. Google no longer views domain authority as being a dominant factor for links—the individual URL doing the linking is often given its own page authority value that then influences the value of the link. Authority can be influenced by a site’s own SEO performance, social trends, and more.
Relevance is one of the easiest ways to improve the value of link building but few SEOs put the effort into doing it. Relevance is the strength of relationship between the linking domain and page to the destination page and domain, and each’s relevance to the topic or keyword being targeted. That is to say that a website with a specialized focus on a topic, with pages specifically optimized around that topic, will pass more value in a link than a site where either the website or its individual URLS are less optimized around a particular topic. An example may be:
- CoalitionLosAngelesTravel.com is a site all about traveling to and around LA, California.
- CoalitionLosAngelesTravel.com publishes an article about traveling to LA with young kids (coalitionlosangelestravel.com/traveling-la-kids).
- The New York Times links to coalitionlosangelestravel.com/traveling-la-kids in an article from its Travel section on the best travel blogs for families. This link would score highly for Authority (the NYT being a high authority domain and most pages carrying higher authority) and decently well for travel (since the link came from the travel section). It would lose some relevance since the linking page isn’t specifically about family travel to LA.
By dialing in on these three areas of link building, you’ll find that your link building outcomes and impact are more scalable, more permanent, and more impactful. Feel free to contact us if you need help with link building or with your SEO campaigns in general.