This article is contributed by Thomas McMahon.
A major part of inbound marketing to your website is obtaining backlinks that point towards your site by active link building. There are thousands of places on the internet that will tell you how to build links, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide how you’ll go about gaining backlinks in order to drive natural traffic to your site, but also to improve your search rankings.
Whether you’re guest posting, or using another tactic to score backlinks, there are plenty of resources that will tell you to only target sites that are above a certain PageRank, Alexa Rank, Domain Authority, or some other metric. While these statistics can help you to discern a good site from bad, you shouldn’t limit yourself by using PageRank (or other another metric) as the sole determinant for attempting to get a link on the site.
Not an Accurate Measurement
Google loves to be secretive and to keep its workings under wraps, which means all of the tools we have to judge how well a site does in the SERPs or how much PageRank it has is, at best, a guess. PageRank tools are often far off the mark and give a skewed perspective of how a page is actually doing. Deciding which sites to target based solely on a PageRank tool – or any one tool – would be like a carpenter trying to frame stairs with a warped level. When it’s all said and done, the best tool you have at your disposal is your brain. You should be able to see a logical relationship between the two sites before you even attempt to get a link.
Stay in Your Niche
One major reason why using PageRank as the main determining factor is a bad idea is that it can weed out sites that are relevant to you, and lead you to what looks like green pastures that are nothing more than manure in the eyes of Google.
The metaphor might be a bit extreme, but allow me to explain. If you run a site that sells cat beds and get a link from an authority site on neurosurgery that has high PageRank, do you think that link will really help you in the long run? The two sites have absolutely nothing in common with one another and Google can and will see this. It’s better to stick with sites that are in the same niche as you, or closely related niches, since Google is putting more and more weight on the relevancy of your backlinks. It just makes sense. Why would it matter if a neurosurgeon links to your cat bed site, if nobody in the cat bed universe knows you exist? The opinion of professionals and users in your niche is valued higher than the professionals in other niches.
It Looks Natural Because It is Natural
SEOs and inbound marketers are a fan of the term “look natural” in the sense that their link building campaigns look like natural links pointing towards a site. Rather than striving to make your link portfolio look natural, why not make it natural to start with? Granted, the term “link building” makes everything associated with it unnatural since the links you’ll be making are inorganic, but tactics like guest posting to relevant blogs, or asking to be listed as a resource on a related site are natural!
Imagine if Google (and other search engines) weren’t around and the only way to get around on the web was through links. Where would you want your links to be coming from? Some random site that a lot of people go to but is far removed from your target audience, or a site that is relevant to yours whose visitors could turn into customers or followers because of a well-placed link that offers them something of value?
Once again, in the end it is always up to you about what methods you choose to go with. Marketing within your marketplace will always get better results than wasting efforts outside of your niche because your target audience is already there, and when you’re online – Google’s crawlers and algorithms become your target audience as well.