Aaron Wall often mentions links as currency for a website. Links into a site help build equity for that site enabling it to leverage things like more links. Add a solid business model behind the site those links will directly convert to money. Since it’s such a good analogy why not expand on it.
A few days ago Jane Copland one of the newest mozzers posted The Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know on the SEOmoz blog. It’s a post about some of the things Jane has learned since joining Rand and company. One of the things she learned makes for a good description for the value of links.
Some links are Benjamins. Some are Washingtons. Some are pennies that, even after a year, a whole collection of them will only get you a couple of bucks at CoinStar. It isn’t hard to tell the difference.
Links are also Grants, Jacksons, Hamilton’s, and Lincoln’s. They can be two Hamilton’s and a Lincoln or a Grant, a Jackson, and a couple of Washington’s. The point is different links carry different values. And Jane is right, more often than not it is easy to tell the difference.
If I showed you two piles of money, one with $37.23 and the other with $35.97 and asked you to choose one after only a quick look you might end up with just under $36. Not the choice you’d want to make, but would it really matter. How much more are you going to buy with that $1.26 you lost out on. Now if I showed you two piles, one with $450 and the other with $22 all in singles, you’d probably pick the right pile every time. It’s easy to tell when there’s that much of a difference.
And so it is with links. Different links carry different values with them. Sometimes two links are very similar in value. Other times they are not. A link from from the DMOZ might be worth about the same as one from the Yahoo directory. A link in a forum signature is worth less than a link from an article in the New York Times. A forum signature link might be worth a nickel in comparison to the Times $500 link. You’d need 10,000 links from forum signatures in that case to equal the single link from the Times.
Many people bill themselves as SEOs by trading in penny links. The kind of SEO that will submit your site to 1000 directories for $100. Spending ten cents a link sounds like a good deal until you realize each of those links is worth a penny. Yes those penny links count. And yes they are easy to get, but in the amount of time it would take to get 1000 penny links you might be able to get a $100 link and five $20s.
No one can tell you exactly how much a single link is worth. The measure of that currency changes from site to site. A link from Home Depot might be gold to a site selling home remodeling services, while that same link might only be worth $1 to a site selling books. A link from CNN might be worth millions to either.
Though it may be hard to put an exact value on a link or sometimes see the difference in value between two links there are common signs of a quality link that can be used to help determine the relative worth of different links.
The links as currency analogy is a good one and if you can wrap yourself around it you can see that’s it’s not all about having the most links. It’s about having more of the links that carry greater value.