Optimizing Link Equity for SEO
You will need to consider link equity as part of your SEO strategy. Part of the search engine algorithm (how search engines rank your site) is measuring your link equity to see whether you’re an expert on your subject. In broad terms, more links equals greater expertise, especially when the links are from expert sites that are relevant to your site. The more outside websites that link to you, the more expert your site appears to the search engines.
Say you’re a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Being a member of the BBB is a good practice for a business. It’s a trust issue for your visitors who feel better knowing that you’re a member. Naturally, you want to tell people this affiliation, so you place a link to the BBB on your website.
Unfortunately, if you’re like a lot of webmasters out there, you were so proud of joining the BBB that you stuck a badge and link to its site on every page of your entire site. In doing this, you just gave a huge amount of link equity to a site that is not your own. Having the BBB badge is a good trust signal for the consumer, but perhaps you should consider linking to it only once, from your About Us page, instead of at every appearance of the badge.
Link equity is something Google measures when reading your site to determine whether a site is an “expert” in that field. If many people are linking to you from relevant quality sites, obviously you must know something, or so the logic goes. Obviously you can create spammy links to fool the engines, but that won’t last long. Valid links from other sites, on the other hand, contribute to search engines recognizing your site as an expert.
It’s not a bad idea to link out to other sites. You want to link to other sites. It gives you an air of respectability when you point to other sites (through your links) and say, “This person is also an expert in the field, and you should check him out.” It makes you look like you know what you are talking about. Also the person you link to may turn around and link back to you, thus proclaiming you to be an expert, as well.
On the other hand, you have to be picky about whom you link to and where you place those links on your site.