It is said that a link in the content of a page has more value than a link in the sidebar or footer of the page. This is based on the fact that search robots analyze the location of that link, and if it is within a context (a paragraph, a piece of writing) there is a compelling reason for it to be there. And that is why it “counts more”.
Vision Based Page Segmentation
This is achieved through the so-called VIPS (VIsion based Page Segmentation), a technology that allows search engines to “understand” the structure of the page. Let’s face it, unless we have created an extraordinarily special page in a wild imagination, it is normal to have a page structured like the vast majority. And the search engines already know them.
Normally there is a main section where there is the important content, and some secondary areas, either at the top or a horizontal column, where there are certain fairly generic links that are not related to the content, and sometimes even external links. These large areas are what the VIPS identify, through the semantic tags of the web.
As we can see, the VIPS not only structure the web, but also hierarchize it. Thus, a link in section VB1_2 is not at the same level as a link in VB2_3_2. Thus, we see that obviously, the weight of a link depends on where it is located, and not only on the density (number of times it appears) of this link. In fact, we already know that only the first link and anchor text of each URL we link to counts for Google.
The idea of VIPS is simple: Decrease the importance of links in certain parts of the webs. And that’s more than fine, because the mission of search engines is to show relevant information, and not the most positioned with SEO techniques, which may be less relevant. That is, the sidebars and footers that the website owner uses to rank other pages, and the comments section and user-generated content, which users use to rank their websites.
And logically, the area that should have more weight is the content, the text or article of the page, which is where we can find the relevant information, and that makes one page different from another within the same website. And thanks to the standardization of the web, and the improvement of search engine algorithms, it is becoming easier to detect all these areas.
So, in case we want a quality link for our website, what we must do is to get links from the priority content of a page. In other words, we should be linked because we are relevant to that article or content. And to be relevant, we simply must… be relevant. Of course we “can” get links from a content. There are a thousand ways to do it. By asking for favors, paying, exchanging links, paying, guest blogging, etc.
Here you can read a Guide to linkbuilding.
The value of a link
Let’s take a look at 10 key factors that are taken into account for the valuation of a link. Obviously this list is not exhaustive, but it is relevant.
1. Link position
A link placed in a higher position on the page is valued more highly than one at lower levels. Google is so clear about this that it has patented the concept, called Ranking Documents Based on User Behavior and/or Feature Data. It depends not only on the “height” of the link, but also on its location, since thanks to the VIPS technology (VIsion based Page Segmentation), the value of a link can be established according to its location on the page.
2. Link origin
External links, i.e. from other pages, are much more valuable than internal links (obviously), but we should not underestimate the internal links, since they are a much more significant factor than the strong tag, and almost at the level of H1.
3. Reciprocal links
Reciprocal links (typical of a link exchange) are not as valuable as unilateral links. This is logical, since if a content is original, good and of quality, it will tend to accumulate links unilaterally. On the other hand, if a website only gets links from sites it also links to, Google sees these as “links of convenience”, and does not value them equally.
4. NoFollow Links
Google has made it clear that if a link has the nofollow attribute, it does not count. It does not pass any parameter. Neither PageRank, nor TrustRak, nor anchor text, nor anything else. This discourages the use of spam comments.
5. Quality links
Links from disreputable pages do not carry the same weight as a link from a reputable website. Links from reputable websites are always more valuable, even if they are from secondary URLs. So, if you get a link from CNN, even if it is from an “unimportant page”, it is still a link from CNN.
1 link from 100 different sites is much more important than 100 links from one site. So the number of domains linking to your website is almost as important as the number of links you have.
7. Link freshness
Link freshness is evaluated according to Google’s QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) algorithm. This algorithm values those pages that get a large number of links in a short period of time. It even has a patent called Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data. It is said that this algorithm can also weight the historical data of a link, so that older links can also be weighted more than recent ones.
8. Text and image links
It is a fact. Image links are weighted less than text links with their traditional anchor. This has been tacitly proven in several studies, and it is quite logical. The visible text link, the anchor, is exactly what the user sees, as opposed to the alt attribute of an image, which the user cannot see, and which can lead to misleading links. Google always values what the user can see much more than what the user cannot see. That is why it pays no attention to keyword metatags.
9. Neighbor” links
If a page has links to Spam pages (usually comment spam), it devalues the rest of the links on the page. So, it is worth having the page free of Spam, not only for our website, but also for all those we link to. Likewise, those pages that abuse outbound links (there is an unwritten maximum of 100 links) will not be valued as much as the more selective pages. Again, this is logical, as it prevents some pages from being used simply to create links.
In recent years, all kinds of embedded content that link to a website have become very fashionable. From a YouTube video that leads to the source page of the video, to Facebook badgets that lead to pages created by users. Whether swf files, iframes or other types of gadgets, these “snippets” of content that link to another page do not weight in the same way as a normal link.