Wiep recently came out with a Link Value poll in the essence of the SEOmoz Search Engine Ranking Factors and asked a panel of 17 link building experts their opinions on 39 different properties of a link and the potential weight of each. It’s a great report with some excellent insight so if you haven’t seen it, go give it a read.
As you may have noticed by my not so subtle title, I’m concentrating on a certain expert. Now I don’t personally know Eric other than speaking to him at a couple of conferences so this isn’t a personal attack. I know he’s been link building since 1994 and whatever blaa blaa blaa. Maybe he just doesn’t want to let go of any information but in my opinion this makes him look like a Digital Point poser. Let’s look at his responses to each question:
1. Anchor Text: “Multiple factors play into the ultimate effect of anchor text. The best anchor text in the world is meaningless if the site has not shown previous signals of trust.”
2. Type of link: “Again, multiple factors play into the ultimate effect of text and/or image links. The best image links in the world are meaningless if the site where they reside has not shown previous signals of trust.”
3. Surrounding text: “Multiple factors play into the ultimate effect of surrounding text. In some cases it will be useful, in some cases it will be useless.”
4. Number of links: “It will depend on quality of the source sites.”
5. Location of link: “It will depend on the source site.”
6. Reciprocity: “It will depend on the sites and the subject matter, and the historical subject specific reciprocity tendencies”
7. Target page: “As with all things, it is not as simple as people want to make it. No two sites are created equal and thus the links between them cannot be categorized equally.”
8. Location of link in source code: “It will depend on the source site.”
9. Page authority: “It will depend on the source site.”
10. Total amount of links: “Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It will depend on the source site’s previously earned trust.”
11. Page authority (in internal links): “I’ve ranked pages #1 with nothing more than a single link from a single page.”
12. Age of the page: “Sometimes yes, sometimes no. You have to know what to look for. It will depend on the source site’s previosuly earned trust.”
13. Page relevance (contextual relevance): “It will depend on the both source and destination site.”
14. Amount of non-linking content: “It will depend on the source site’s previously earned trust.”
15. URL of the page: “Sometimes yes, sometimes no. You have to know what to look for.”
16. Page authority (in PageRank): “It will depend on the source site.”
17. Last date of page edit: “Not always. You have to know what to look for.”
18. Page type: “Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It will depend on the source site’s previously earned trust.”
19. Domain authority (in quality of backlinks): “But…not 100% of the time.”
20. Age of domain: “Unless it was an old crappy site to begin with. If the content was junk, ten years later it is simply aged junk.”
21. Relevant authority (in rankings on relevant keywords): “Bingo. Keno. Yahtzee. Amen.”
22. Domain authority (in PageRank): “But…not 100% of the time.”
23. Domain authority (in rankings on irrelevant keywords): “Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It will depend on the source site’s previosuly earned trust.”
24. Domain relevance: “For higher end trusted content sites the domain name relevance is absolutely meaningless, and has to be.”
25. TLD (.com, .edu, etc.): “You can find worthless content on any TLD. The TLD alone is not enough to say the link value will be higher/lower.”
26. Robots.txt excluded page: “SERP only.”
28. Noindex page: “SERP only.”
No response on Age of the link, Amount of outbound links, Relevance of other outbound links, Quality of other outbound links, Page relevance, Domain authority (in # of backlinks), Alexa ranking, Link is on penalized page, Redirect link, Bad neighborhood links are present and Paid Link triggers.
Weip didn’t list what value each person placed on each item so that makes it a bit confusing sometimes. However, I can see only one answer that actually isn’t doublespeak. Question 21, relevant authority in rankings on relevant keywords. Well yea, of course. The remaining culmination of his answers: “it depends, sometimes, not always” and according to him all these will work if the domain has trust (but he had no response to paid link triggers). Sometimes. Maybe. If you know what to look for.
If I were looking for some link development outsourcing and/or consulting (which I currently am actually) this doesn’t make me want to call him at all. Sometimes I’m sick and tired of people being labeled as “experts” in this industry simply because they’ve been around for a long time. Woopie fucking doo, you’ve emailed Jerry Yang…sign me up. I’m sure Eric know what he’s doing and he’s had a billion testimonials and has been called the godfather of link building, but I’ve yet to take away one piece of advice from anything he’s said online or at a conference that actually helps me do anything. And by no means am I calling myself better at it so let’s not even go there.
I just made some enemies. Bring it.