What is The REAL Value of a Link?

With all of the talk lately about paid-links, PageRank reductions and nofollows I have started to wonder “what is the REAL value of a link?”. I spend countless hours finding linking opportunities for clients, instilling in them the importance of backlinks and when it comes right down to it, I honestly don’t know the definitive answer to that question.

  • Is a nofollowed link that drives traffic more or less valuable than a search friendly link that doesn’t?
  • Is a link from a large trusted website better than a link from a smaller more relevant one?
  • How do we qualify/quantify which links are valuable? Or is it simply that all links are valuable?

I recently completed a link building campaign for a client that involved contacting bloggers and sending them products for review. The campaign went quite well and each review included two or three links back to the client’s site. However, not all of the links were search engine friendly. Some used nofollows and JavaScript while a couple used affiliate IDs and redirects.

All my hard work for nothing (insert pouty face)!

Ok that is not true by a long shot. When it came down to it, I will admit I had an initial tinge of disappointment. I mean these were great places to receive backlinks from when it came to SEO. But in the end each link was certainly valuable in its own way. The reviews were all positive, we had relevant traffic, a number of sales, new affiliates sign on and we reached an audience we hadn’t previously.

So what is the REAL value of these links?

I think that each link’s “value” has to be determined by it’s purpose. If you set out to find links solely to improve your rankings without regard to traffic, branding, etc, then that link should be valued differently than one with the purpose of attracting visitors.

A redirected or nofollowed link that doesn’t bring traffic has little value in my eyes while at the same time, a link that isn’t nofollowed from a trusted site can be extremely valuable even though it doesn’t drive traffic. And then there’s links from…Anyway, I could go on and on but the point is, the value of a link is subjective to the site and the purpose.

Now if I could just explain this to clients…

“We have a successful online business, and wanted to take the next step. We approached KoMarketing with the notion of leveraging its expertise in building better search rankings. Both in our defined critical areas and across the board, KoMarketing has helped us grow our presence. They were hired to expand our visibility, but took extra steps to provide many useful recommendations for other areas of our online presence that have had positive impacts. Derek and his staff work hard and take extra steps to ensure you succeed. They are an outstanding partner.”

Scott Stone — Scott Stone, Advertising & E-Business Manager, Cisco Eagle

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