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Is Traffic Potential a Good Proxy for Link Quality?

This guest post is by Mark of GiftedSEO.com.

Since Google’s recent Panda Update, the world of SEO and blogging has been buzzing, and while there have been some innocent sites caught in the crossfire, the one thing most people will agree on is that Google has once and for all let the world know that poor quality, spammy content is not okay.

A side-effect of the update is that if you have a lot of links to your site from poor-quality sources, those links probably just lost most of their value, too.

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Copyright Frank Gärtner - Fotolia.com

Basically, as far as SEO link building is concerned, quality is more important than ever right now. But after years of directories and article submissions, some people seem to have forgotten what a quality link actually is!

What does “good quality” even mean?

SEO has always been about trying to second-guess Google and create links and content that check all the right boxes. But sometimes, this can be taken a bit too far.

Chasing an algorithm is like chasing a carrot on a stick: every time you get close, the stick moves, and the carrot moves a step further from your grasp. Why not just aim for wherever the carrot is headed and meet it when it gets there?

If you aim for the same goal that Google is already moving towards, every future algorithm change is only going to make your blog stronger.

A world without SEO

Let’s just pretend for a minute that we don’t care about SEO or search engines at all. Before SEO existed, back when links were just links, what exactly made a link “good”?

Put another way, if you were trying to make money blogging, and SEO wasn’t in the picture, what links would you care about getting?

As I see it, the amount of relevant traffic generated by a link is the purest possible indicator of whether it’s a worthwhile link or not.

A quick analogy for the Internet

There is an actual, actionable point here: whenever you gain a new link, rather than trying to guess what the almighty Google is thinking, why not just check your own analytics and see whether you are actually getting any traffic from it?

Links are essentially the bridges of the Internet. And for some reason, people have started to worry more about making them look nice for the big guy in the sky, than about getting people safely across the water. (In this metaphor, the water is the parts of the Internet that are full of nasty spam sharks.)

This is the equivalent of a small high street business caring more about their advertisement getting some industry award than whether or not the ad actually generates any sales. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Action plan

If you don’t have it already, install Google analytics (or something similar) and start looking at where your traffic is actually coming from. You should be able see which specific sites and pages are sending you traffic. If you visit those pages, you can see the links that are sending you traffic.

By doing this, you’ll get an unparalleled insight into which links are providing you with real traffic, and which areas of your site are the most popular.

Next, look at the pages on your site that are popular, and try to figure out what you did to make them so. Also look for unpopular pages and try to improve them.

If you can learn what makes good content for your site, you can start building more of it. Any time you get a lot of links from a page, try to build on that success and repeat it.

You can also start to spend more time looking for and connecting with the sorts of people who own the types of sites that are linking to you. Ask for links if you like, but you might soon find you don’t even need to!

A final thought

SEO and link building have a bad reputation because there are a lot of ways to do it, and let’s face it, some of them are pretty scuzzy, as Mr. Cutts would say. But in my opinion SEO can and should be a positive thing.

In the last few paragraphs, I discussed what I think is a powerful new way to think about SEO. It’s not so much about pleasing the algorithm as it is about finding new ways to build real links and at the same time improve the quality of what you are offering to the Web.

What do you think about this approach? Are you already using it? How’s it going for you?

This post was written by Mark from GiftedSEO.com, a new kind of SEO company for a new Internet. We get by by helping good sites be better sites and in doing so earn the rankings they deserve.

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Comments

  1. Hey Mark,
    SEO is something that I am learning more about everyday. The majority of my traffic comes from RSS feeds. Then followed by search engines and then individual sites that link to me.

    I just submitted my first guest-post to FeelGooder and I am excited to see the amount of traffic to my blog that I get.

    • Gregory C. says:

      That’s a good start in my eyes (your guest post), as writing a guest post for a popular or well-known blog will ensure two things:

      1.) It will ensure that you are writing great content, as you will have to right something of quality in order to get on to a popular blog.

      2.) It won’t be a backlink that can backfire: writing for a quality blog with loyal subscribers will mean that your backlink from that blog will always remain quality, and can even improve in the future.

      One strategy that I like is to start a “mastermind” group and pair up with up & coming bloggers so that you can grow your blog’s together. This way, you can share backlinks amongst each other as well, BUT ONLY because these other bloggers that you associate with produce great content, you shouldn’t be handing out backlinks just to get one for yourself.

      Overall a great point and a great post.

      PS: If anyone is up for joining a group like I’ve described above, I blog in a lot of topics, so feel free to let me know =)

  2. SEO is very important!
    :)

  3. Kathy says:

    Mark,

    I agree SEO and link building do get a bad wrap… keeping in mind
    ethical link building practices can only help your business overall.

    Great Post!

  4. Rory Mullen says:

    It is true that SEO is a difficult job with long hours if you want to be legit about it. My philosophy is Why do the job over gain when you can do the job right the first time.

    Darren.. A+ job once again…

    • Graham Lutz says:

      so very right – what’s the point of getting spammy links and bringing in traffic that does nothing more than up your bounce rate?

      I’m not looking for traffic for the sake of the traffic. I want to engaged readers who stay a while and will take something away from their visit.

  5. Rory Mullen says:

    Mark a great job… so sorry I mixed you up with out reading the author…. Keep up the great work

  6. Slithzerai says:

    Found this post with Stumbleupon.
    Being a wordpress.com user I wasn’t able to use google analytics. I currently check google webmaster tools only, am I missing something or are there other alternatives?
    Cheers

  7. Emrul Khan says:

    I did believe that too much link building are help for page rank. but i was wrong. thanks Mark

  8. In the way of building algorithm, Google will finally going to choose the ‘real informative’ site. So, better to have real information to get great links and higher postition.

  9. mario_monk says:

    Google’s ability to filter great content from spam is impressive and it will only rise by time. Provide good content and you will win a long term. Google wants best content, not best optimized one.

  10. Karan Batra says:

    No matter how much we improve ourselves, we will never be able to match Google. So rather than 24X7 focussing on how google ranks pages, we should also try to focus on areas from where are visitors are coming

  11. As search engines revise their algorithms, the sites ranking at the top for keywords are sites that sell the best product. Selling the best product will naturally result in people linking to your product for relevant pages. People doing SEO have to consider how good the product their trying to market is.

  12. Very nice post but it’s still not clear to me wht did you mean by “…poor-quality sources.”

    Is it those sites have lower rank and less visitors or the sites don’t have good content???

    Please clarify.

    Thanks
    Jesse

  13. You can come up with every innovative strategy in the world for building links but I still think that by far and away the best one is just simply writing amazing content that people can use as a resource because if you do that then time and time again people will link to it.

  14. I have always ignored SEO, and just focused on the material that I have been putting up on the web. I can’t control other sites, but I can control my own content. I do not exchange links because I have my own personal standards. The links I give are because I think someone said something important, and the links I am given are because of something I wrote. Some people find this strange, but hey—I started my writing career before the internet. In the old days, content was the only thing that mattered (a human being either liked your work and you gott your check for it or they sent you a rejection slip suggesting that you choose another profession).

  15. Daniel says:

    Some good Points, Mark.

    Apparently, ” the Panda Update” is only one of around thirty initiatives Google either has already put in motion recently, or has in the pipeline( is set to put into motion ).

    I did read a great article on a particular blog(site) yesterday, which outlined what parameters(Most likely) were being used by Google to determine quality content(Sites).
    Quality seems to be the main theme on all counts(In all areas).

    • Justin says:

      I think that “quality” always has and always will be the most important thing for long-term success. People who worry too much about giving Google’s algorithm exactly what it wants will always have short-term success. People who focus on giving USERS exactly what they want are far more likely to have lasting success…. because those people are ACTUALLY giving Google exactly what it wants. Google’s algorithm always changes, but what never changes is Google’s goal – to give searchers the highest quality relevant information. I say align with Google’s goal; not necessarily with their algorithm.

  16. Mark,

    Thanks for the post!

    Yes SEO has a bad reputation because it changes all the time and one Google slap and all your hard work is worth not much.

    That said, SEO is essential, but cannot be the only thing we rely on as bloggers.

    I’m a video blogger and my video coach has made it very clear NOT to rely on SEO and use other methods to get traffic to our sites.

    Thanks a lot! Great stuff!

    Krizia
    Women Entrepreneurs HQ Show

  17. clea says:

    I find that when you post is also very important, not just what or how, but when as well.
    I do agree with the previous comment that if you can write great information about things
    people are interrested in you’ve one half the battle..Im relatively new to blogging, but I really have enjoyed it so far, and appreciate problogger tips a tricks tremendously, you’ve created an awesome
    clear and wonderful site..many many thanks, clea

  18. alls says:

    my blog traffic much from Us. And number 2 from indonesia .traffic much will run to your blog if your conten unique

  19. patrick says:

    I agree. SEO can be a very positive way of connecting the right visitors to the right sites. Unfortunately there are also people who like to abuse SEO and that makes it much harder for everyone else, both the website creators and the visitors.

    High quality links are definitely important for ranking and using analytics will help you find where that traffic is coming from so you can build more of it. Great post!

  20. matthew hell says:

    Interesting article, we had to do a ton of research on seo when we began, and now it finally paid off. you definiatly have to know what you are doing and try to get on Googles good side in order for them to rank you higher!

    Thanks

  21. Adrian says:

    Appreciate this useful article about SEO. :) In fact, there is also another effective SEO strategy is generating fresh and original CONTENT since Google loves this until the very end.

  22. I could not agree more. I had one link I made in passing increase the traffic of my blog by over 200 percent.

  23. Vin Jackson says:

    Hi !

    Thanks for nice sharing ! Good concept. Increase the website Traffic is one of the main purposes of SEO.

  24. Adrian says:

    Mark, it is fully appreciative of you to put in good efforts to provide detailed and useful information about SEO tips to improve SEO rankings for the wordpress users especially newbies. I am very sure it will come very handy for the newbies.

    Well done Mark!