September 12, 2006One of the bigger link building hot topics is the impact that IBL (inbound links) originating from .edu locations can have on your link popularity and search rankings. What most people don’t fully grasp is that the quality of IBL’s from within the .edu domain varies significantly.
Rather than making this concept more complex than it needs to be, let’s boil it down by example. A link from a student homepage or school paper web site isn’t as valuable as a link from a professor’s page, or better yet, the University library site. Why? because it’s easy for those who are into black hat stuff to buy links from students, wheras a librarian isn’t likely to be bought. Thus the content EARNED the link, and the source and reference can be trusted. Engines know this and will tweak algos until they get it right. I hope, anyway. Give me 10 library links instead of 100 student page links any day.
Likewise with .gov and others. Any TLD has crap, and any TLD has gold.
Variety of IBLs from around the world is also important for some sites, but not all.
As for directory inclusion, I can say with certainty that the older the site the more useless those directory IBLs are.
I rank 1st for all key terms and I’m in only two directories. Why do I rank? I never went after rank. But since I do rank high I can reverse analyze my links and it tells me exactly what they want. The age of my site and overall IBL link profile are the key.
However, for a newer site, the game changes. The new site’s IBL profile or “link signature” needs to slowly percolate towards becoming a link signature that looks natural and trustworthy. That said, I see evidence every day that the links that help me rank 1st will not help every site site rank 1st.
So what works for one site WILL NOT work for every site, which is why it’s such a challenge to create software/tools that can analyze links with any degree of confidence. In the end, a human still has to make some very tricky decisions about whether or not ANY link is worth pursuing. The answer will be different for every site, and thus the potential link target sites need to be different as well.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic and others, I cover them in detail in my private newsletter The Ward Report: Link Building and Content Publicity Tactics.