Here’s a question that we’ve heard a few times:
Do you have a way of evaluating links and their effectiveness compared to their cost / effort needed to acquire them?
Short answer: No. There’s no reliable, proven metric for determining the value of an individual link. This is by design, as search engines don’t want to encourage anyone to “game” their platforms by buying or selling individual links that will lead to big gains in search engine rankings.
However, if we take a step back from looking at links individually and look at links more globally, the value of a link can be estimated. Here’s how.
First, Here’s Why Links Matter
Links are valuable because they boost a website’s search engine rankings. Specifically:
- There’s a correlation between link quantity and search engine rankings. Generally speaking, more links from more different websites adds up to higher rankings for any given search term.
- There’s a correlation between link relevance and search engine rankings. If your website has a lot of links from websites that are closely related (say, for example, an auto parts ecommerce site with a lot of links from automotive forums), that typically results in higher search engine rankings.
- There’s a correlation between link quality and search engine rankings. If a website owner is careful about who they link to, that is typically a sign of quality. If a website is very popular, that is also a sign of quality. Links from these types of sites typically results in higher search engine rankings.
Basically, if your goal is to have the #1 ranked website on Google for any given search term, than a link from a quality website to your website is good. A link from a quality and also relevant website to your website is great. Links from multiple quality websites that are all relevant to your site? #1 here we come.
Link Value Is Based on Ranking Revenue and Acquisition Difficulty
When valuing links, you want to look at two things:
- If a specific link pushes my website higher in the rankings, how much revenue can that potentially create?
- Is the link easy to get, or hard?
In terms of revenue, ranking #1 for a relevant search term usually generates thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly revenue. While it’s rare for a single link to push a website to #1, every link counts in pursuit of that goal.
In terms of link acquisition difficulty, easy to obtain links (like a link in a paid press release) should be heavily discounted. Links that are more difficult to obtain – like a link in an article on a popular automotive magazine’s website – should be given extra value.
Example: Your business could earn an additional $10,000 a month in revenue if you could get to #1 on Google. You hire a marketing company, and they publish an interesting infographic that gets a mention on a popular automotive magazine’s website. Within a few weeks of earning this link, your site is ranking #1 on Google, and monthly revenue is up $10k.
So, that single link is worth some fraction of the profits earned from the additional $10,000 in revenue. Maybe it’s a few hundred dollars a month, maybe it’s more. But – conservatively – that link is worth several thousand dollars if it can get your site to #1 for the next year.
As you might have guessed, the value of any specific link very much depends on the situation. But this evaluation method should give you some idea of what links are worth.
Generally speaking, a link from a relevant, quality website is worth hundreds of dollars at the very minimum. Often times, these links are worth several thousand dollars each.
How Do We Get More Links?
If you do the math and determine that a handful of links to your website could be worth several thousand dollars in profit each month, you might be tempted to buy links, trade links with other businesses, or even create a network of bogus websites that all link back to your main site. Google takes a very dim view of these behaviors, and the penalty for them is severe.
So, the only way to get more links without risking a penalty is to earn them. Specifically:
- Create content that’s interesting and worthy of a mention. If you publish a great blog post that answers a question or explains how something works, people will share that article on social media, on forums, on personal websites, etc.
- Build relationships. If you’re an auto parts manufacturer, you should work to get every one of your retailers and distributors to link to your website. If you’re a retailer, you should work to build relationships with related forums, Facebook groups, Reddit threads, etc. so that they’ll be inclined to link to you.
- Create tools. Are customers wondering how big their exhaust system tubing should be? Or trying to find a replacement u-joint by size? Create tools that help answer these questions.
- Participate in the community. Support car shows, owner events, racing events, museums, car clubs, and so on. This support doesn’t have to be financial – you can lend the use of a facility, volunteer to help organize the event, or even just promote the event on your company’s social media profiles. Members of the community will respond by promoting your company, and that inevitably generates links.
- Hire a marketing company. Last but not certainly not least, hire a marketing company that understands how to earn links. Ideally, the marketing company will understand your industry too.
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