10 Aspects How Search Engines Evaluate Links

Posted on February 28, 2010 | Tagged as: , | 0 comments

The classic and often discussed PageRank isn’t the only factor that is used by search engines to evaluate links. There are many aspects involved in determine the value and some influence a link’s value more than others. Within the SEO community, there are 10 factors that are commonly regarded as important when talking about how search engines judge links.


Links from pages that cover the same topic as the target page, or are closely related, are worth more than links from unrelated pages. The relevance is always determined in the context of the search query. See the article on Relevance and Importance of Search Results about how this aspect is judged by Google and others.


Taken relevance a step further is the aspect of authority. Each topic a user can search on has some authority sites that are specific to that topic (the most relevant sites). Authorities are sites that are linked to by most of the sites relevant to a particular content. Also involved is the concept of hubs, sites that link to most of the important sites which are relevant to that topic. So links from sites that search engines consider authoritative are evaluated very high.


Trust takes into account how likely the linking page is infiltrated by spammers. This trust measurement is determined on how many clicks away the site is from so called seed sites, sites that are manually picked and rated as trustworthy. The more clicks a site is away, the less trust it earns, the lower is its TrustRank. Generally, this factor is difficult to measure.

Anchor text

The anchor text the linking page uses is a powerful factor for search engines to determine the relevance of the target page. Anchor text helps the engines to understand what the link is about. So a keyword rich text adds much to the links value.


Links from independent, third-party sites are evaluated much higher than internal links from your own site. They are seen as independent editorial votes for your content. Search engines also consider so called link cluster building: sites, that heavily cross-link to each other are seen as one site and the links are treated as internal links (and therefore evaluated less).


Search engines do not count multiple links from a domain (or link cluster) cumulatively. So linking to a target site on every page does not have any additional effect. Ten links from ten different sites are evaluated higher than ten links from one site.


Getting links from different page types, like blogs, social media sites, bookmarking sites, adds to the target page’s diversification. Engines are constantly upgrading the algorithms used for link evaluation. So if all links come from blog-like sites and the engines decide to reduce the value of blog links, your rankings will be influenced strongly. Another aspect of diversity is that gaining links from different types looks more balanced to the search engines and therefore more natural.

Temporal patterns

Temporal factors include when the target site gets new links, how long the links existed and how quickly they were added. Links that exist for quite a long time might become less valuable, depending on the trust and authority of the linking site. Interesting for search engines is the period within which new links appear and whether the site jumps from one link per week up to 10 per day. This might be a signal for the search engines to take a closer look and to decide wether the link building is correct.


Search engines also examine the context where the link is placed. Do other, nearby placed links point to content related pages? Is the link placed in the body of the content or in a link section at the bottom of the page (prominence)? Is the content related to the targets page content? Does the nearby text seem to be related to the anchor text (proximity)? Does the overall site context fit or is the link only placed in a small fitting section?


Relevance and authority is not determined on per site basis. A section under example.com/seo might be evaluated authoritative on the topic of seo, but example.com/flex might not be for the flex topic. Every site and the pages it has are judged on topic-by-topic.

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