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SEO Specialists Reveal: What Makes A Link ‘Juicy’

SEO specialists spend a phenomenal amount of time and effort trying to figure out not just ‘what works’, but also ‘why’. Every time Google updates it’s algorithms, hundreds of groups around the world kick into high gear experimenting, fiddling, analyzing, and recording the results to share with their ‘in crowd’. For the last decade or so, things have been fairly tumultuous, with Google silently or openly shifting or in some cases even completely reversing their policies on certain aspects of the SEO business.

In the past few years, however, they seem to have settled on a certain, specific set of attributes that they’ve decided make a particular backlink more or less ‘juicy’ for SEO purposes. It all started with a patent Google filed that lays out exactly what they think about backlinks. It’s a long and complicated document, but here’s the takeaway that every organic SEO company should know about:

  • Location: links at the top of a page (above the fold) are more valuable than links at the bottom, and links that are clearly not part of the main content (i.e. links from comments on a blog) are dramatically less valuable than main-content links.
  • Standing Out: links that are bold, italic, a different color, or larger are more valuable than ones that ‘blend in’.
  • Anchor Text: should make sense in context with the words around it, and shouldn’t have an obvious commercial intent.
  • Image Links: should be named, alt-texted and title tagged something relevant to the content of the image and the content of the page (which, presumably, are the same.) Larger images create more valuable links, but only to a point — once an image is clearly visible, making it bigger just wastes valuable space for other content.
  • Links must exist as part of a natural pattern of backlinks — it doesn’t matter how amazing each specific link is, if you only have PR7 .edu and .gov backlinks, Google is going to see that and neg you hard.
  • Each additional link out of the page you’re linking from devalues the link you’re trying to emphasize, so minimize other outgoing links.

And there you have it — all of the positively-known rules for creating the Perfect Backlink, according to Google’s patent, which we would totally link to except that we want to keep our links to a minimum according to our very own rules. Look it up on your own: it’s US7716225.

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