What Are Link Signals for SEO?

  • Samuel Darwin
  • Sep 23, 2021

You might be in doubt about the capability of building links for SEO. In this article, we will discuss what are link signals and how can they impact the overall SEO. We’ll build up from there and show some examples that can help you understand the concept more.

First, let’s discuss what link signals are. Link signals are the signs that tell search engines how powerful your backlinks are. These are ranking factors that are concerned with the backlink quality.

SEMRush recently published a study about the ranking factors, and 4 of the 17 factors (23.5%) are link signals. These 4 link signals are equivalent in terms of ranking value. This means that search engines treat these 4 factors as one.

Let’s look at an example of a link signal used in content writing.

Quick Example of Link Signals

If link signals were part of the content, they will appear as anchor texts with URLs pointing back to your website. If the content is about link building, your anchor text should blend in naturally. It should look something like this:

The anchor text is inserted naturally in this section of the article.
The anchor text is inserted naturally in this section of the article.

As you can see, the link is relevant and cannot be removed easily without changing its context. This makes search engines recognize that your link signals from this domain do check out.

Link Signals for SEO

Google stated that 3 important signals contribute to ranking in search results. These signals are:

  • Backlinks
  • Content
  • RankBrain

We’ll focus on the backlinks signal and analyze the signals for this specific criterion. These are the link signals you can look for in your backlinks:

1. Referring Domains

The first signal you need to look for is the referring domains you have. For example, if you have links from a local website, it wouldn’t have the same impact as that from BBC News. The popularity of your referring domains remains a crucial link signal for search engines to intercept.

Industry experts are regarded as websites with high domain authority. DA is an SEO metric that tells how your website will perform in search engines. It doesn’t influence rankings directly but the performance of your website will be measured.

There are good ways to increase your DA and make your link signals more robust. An example is to make a high-quality website with high-quality backlinks to support it.

You can also select the quality of the websites you’re giving links to. Make sure to link to websites with DA greater than yours and more traffic. It will signal Google that you are linking to authority websites as references for your blogs.

2. Referring IPs

Referring IPs are different from referring domains. You can have multiple IP addresses for a single domain. This is commonly done to spread the load especially if you have a large website.

By looking at the referring IPs, you can see how many subdomains from different IPs come from the same top-level domain (TLD). Referring domain is a better link signal than referring IPs because it’s more reliable. But the referring IPs are as important as the TLDs to a website.

Referring IPs can signify if you have backlinks from multiple geographic locations. These subdomains refer to the same TLD but came from different demographics. It means that your domain has more reach than your competitors.

3. Total Backlinks

The total number of backlinks is a strong link signal for your backlinks. But since this has been abused by marketers before, it has become less valuable.

However, in reality, it didn’t really change. Search engines just became smarter in identifying how relevant your website is to your backlinks. Since then, relevance has been an important factor to consider in link building.

No matter how many backlinks you have, if they’re not relevant, they are useless. Thus, you have to earn links from high DA and niche-related websites. By doing so, you’re helping improve your link signals and SEO.

4. Follow Ratio of Backlinks

Backlinks have 2 classifications based on the attribute of backlink: dofollow and nofollow backlinks. You can learn more about these 2 types in our other article here. For link signals, we will focus on the dofollow backlinks pointing to your website.

For a good link signal, you must have a good ratio of websites that gave follow backlinks. These websites must also give backlinks to your site willingly or by reaching out to them organically.

But would it mean that the more dofollow backlinks you have, the better link signals you get?

No.

This will only signal search engines that your website has ridiculous amounts of dofollow backlinks. Since dofollow backlinks can affect rankings directly, search engines might interpret this as manipulation of their algorithm. Your links now become useless and a liability.

That’s why the dofollow ratio should always be maintained. The attribute “dofollow” makes the linking website pass PageRank (PR) to the backlink. That’s why it is advisable to have high PR backlinks with the dofollow attribute.

How to Make Your Link Signals Stronger?

Here are some tips you can implement to make your backlinks stronger. More high-quality backlinks will lead to stronger link signals sent to search engines. Stronger link signals will make your website rank higher on Google.

  • Build links to share decent reference material through your content.
  • Build links from websites with high PR and DA to gain more out of it.
  • Manually outreach to webmasters and build a healthy and professional relationship with them.
  • Make SEO-friendly content other websites can link to.
  • Maintain relevance whenever reaching out for backlinks.

These are techniques that attract high-quality backlinks. The SEO metrics from these backlinks will boost the link signals from your website.

Final Word

The link signals you get from your backlinks are important ranking factors. SEO experts and search engines look at these signals with high regard. This will increase the authority of your domain in your niche.

Link signals are important for your SEO because it helps you rank on Google and increase online visibility. To maximize this, you have to make your backlink profile more robust. Implement tailored link building strategies that match your business.

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