How Important Are Links to Credibility And SEO Rankings?
How many links do I need to succeed in SEO? How important are links? These are just two of the most common questions when it comes to the very polarizing linking and authority part of SEO. While it’s true that Google has put less emphasis on link-building in recent years, it’s still a very important strategy to consider adopting. To figure out the importance of links, we need to first start at the beginning.
What are links?
Simply put, links are any instance when you direct a user from one site (or page) to another site (or page) with a URL. Depending on the format, links are usually denoted with underlined or bolded text. These links can be placed to internal and external links as well, though the more important links for a website come from external sites. Generally, the more links, the better, but not all links are equal in terms of power. Links need to come from other reputable sites, such as media publications or educational resources. These links can’t be on websites that are considered “link farms.” “Link farms” have dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of links on a page, which is considered a spammy site.
On a smaller note, it’s also important to make sure to use relevant anchor text with these links instead of simply listing the URL itself. Anchor text is simply the underlined or bolded text that sticks out on the page. Instead of listing the URL, it would be far better to include actual words describing the website within the link. This provides a better context for search engines to associate the content of the linked website.
What’s considered a good link for SEO?
A link is considered good when it flows naturally within the content itself and comes from a natural source. It should never be directly purchased. Local sponsorships are always a great way to generate a link, as well as educational websites, as they are considered highly desirable since they are typically considered trustworthy sources. A local team or event wants to thank its sponsors so that would be “natural.”
The other part of generating links is very tricky and can potentially lead to dangerous waters if not done correctly. Links from other sources, like blog posts, need to be placed in a natural way and not obvious if it was directly purchased. It’s usually done through partnerships with other content creators. Some places have sponsored content as well, which can be tricky. Every once in a while, you hear about sites getting in trouble for unnatural link campaigns and Google decides to punish them for doing so.
Simply doing an interview with a local publication can also do wonders to improve overall scores.
How much influence does a link have on search rankings?
This is the million-dollar question that Google keeps locked up in its secret algorithms. We do know it matters, but no one (other than Google) really knows how much it matters. The results can vary widely based on the industry and other algorithm factors as well. In recent years, the most credible healthcare information sites, such as healthline.com and mayoclinic.org, have improved their rankings drastically because they are considered to be more trustworthy. That’s not to say another more local site cannot rank well, but it’s definitely a bit harder to do so.
In this chart, we looked at a credibility score and total rankings across 368 local healthcare/doctor-related sites. As you might expect, a lot of the doctors’ sites on the graph have smaller, more localized websites. As such, this means there are fewer links, resulting in lower credibility scores. While we can definitely see sites with higher credibility scores rank for more keywords, new sites have little-to-no credibility so they tend to rank for very little.
A lot of these sites utilize a blog or content marketing service that allows them to rank for additional keywords beyond their local market. In other words, they have more content. With these blog posts, we’re competing against sites from across the entire country instead of the local market so a more credible website is a necessity.
It’s important to note that these sites are all different in size when it comes to the number of pages on the site so that could skew the results, too. Competition may also be drastically different across the different markets, too, but generally speaking, everything else is pretty close to equal across our websites.
Total keyword rankings doesn’t necessarily mean they are all driving traffic either. If the charts looked more specifically at page one rankings, or those generating almost all traffic, it would show a similar story.
So, what can I do to improve my scores?
Generating links to your website from reputable, trustworthy sources is the approach any doctor should take. Some prominent medical directories, professional organizations, and associations are a good place to start, but DoctorLogic also offers a service that will help generate new links for your site. Just like any other SEO campaign, the results aren’t immediate. It can take multiple months to see improvements. If you’re interested, be sure to ask your Client Success Manager for more information.