A link profile is the pattern of inbound links that point to a particular website from other websites. This post tries to visualise what can sometimes be a difficult thing to show without getting too technical.
Having worked with many clients over the years, every link building profile is almost as unique as a fingerprint, but there are several types of links profile that crop up again and again. I will explain my thoughts about several types of profile here.
To clarify, blue circles (apart from the one in the centre) represent links toward a site that I would regard as ‘filler’ links. Now in some cases, there is absolutely nothing wrong with some blue circles as they could be links from friend’s websites, and even sister sites to name a few. Maybe I’m being a little unfair to a tiny few of the little blue things but maybe they are not just as juicy as the red ones and deserve to be seen as such. Red circles represent sites of trust (and/or power) that are closely related to the subject matter of the page. Some of the red circles could also represent large sites such as newspapers or university links etc that are not perhaps related, but are highly trusted by Google.
In both cases, each circle does not represent one link, but is an indication of the proportion of links that will be pointed towards a site.
Link Profile 1 – Satellite
I call this linking profile the satellite because it is a site that has only a few, small sites linking to it from sources perhaps close to the site owner. It may have only recently been set up, and could be a blog, or a sister site to a main company site, or a keyword-based domain built by an SEO company about a subject matter that they would then try to use as links toward a client site. The links could be from some sites that the owner of the site has hanging around, maybe a few friend’s sites and even some maybe from similar keyword-based domains. This link profile has a purpose, but isn’t going to rock anyone’s world – including Google’s.
Link Profile 2 – Associate
The associate site could be a secondary site built by a company to target a particular product or service that they may offer. For example, a general Accountancy company may build plumber-accountancy.com to target plumbers who need accountants. The associate site owner takes things a little more seriously than the ‘satellite’ site owner and will attract – if they do things properly – a few relevant links with some PR activity, some good link building and a bit of online schmoozing in the relevant community.
Link Profile 3 – Nice, should be a grower
Taking the ‘associate’ site a bit further, and usually occurring because someone actually cares, this link profile type is very nice indeed. Perhaps an industry body such as the Pencil Sharpener Council of Utah has built (or curated as Eric Ward would correctly point out) a new website that lists the important members of all companies within the community on a new domain called PSCUpeople.com and several people within the industry have chosen to link to their profiles on there from their company sites and perhaps their own personal sites and social media profiles. A great site, great content and because of this, a great, if limited link profile.
Link Profile 4 – Hmmm, taken advice from a small, low-quality SEO company?
Now, now. This is a very popular link profile that I see regularly. Many (desperate) clients that I have spoken to over the years have a links pattern similar to this. It goes like this. Client engages SEO company > SEO company buy cheap links from dodgy link suppliers (and not much else) > wait 6-12 months > not much happens > they then engage with me > it gets rectified.
Link Profile 5 – Hmmm, taken advice from a medium-sized, low-quality SEO company?
Now, now. This is a very popular link profile that I see regularly. Many (desperate) clients that I have spoken to over the years have a links pattern similar to this (but they have paid a little more this time – YES, I know this paragraph is duplicated, it is meant to be). It goes like this. Client engages SEO company > SEO company buy cheap links from dodgy link suppliers (and maybe a teeeeeny bit of manual link building) > wait 6-12 months > not much happens > they then engage with me > it gets rectified.
Link Profile 6 – Just lovely
Funnily enough, I rarely get calls from companies with link profiles that look like this. Unless, that is, they realise that they don’t need a service that profiles 4 and 5 would give them. They would like to grow larger but stay wholesome, which would make them look like profile 7…
Link Profile 7 – This site has great content, this I know
Now we are talking. This is a great link profile that a site doing well in an industry would almost certainly have. Some really nice links from industry news and information sites, links from a few local and even a national newspaper in a story that relates to their industry and even some strong links in vertical directories and perhaps a listing in DMOZ. Don’t forget about mentions and links from bloggers who talk about the industry that the site is in. What a lovely, lovely link profile. This site will be doing very well. This site would NOT have this link profile if it didn’t have great content – think about it!
Link Profile 8 – Industry Leader
Mentioned in sentences by poor-quality SEOs in terms such as “Why do they rank there?” or “The site looks rubbish” and “I just dont get it”, this kind of link profile can do strange things to a competing SEO/site owner. A large blind-spot occurs in many who try to beat a site with this link profile by buying 100 links with the phrase of “x y z”. Some just give up altogether. The minutely tiny few realise that they have to produce content twice as good as this site (over an extended period) and only a minutely tiny few of those minutely tiny few ever start to do something about it. This site is the industry leader for a reason. It will not have this link profile without quality content. It will have also engaged in campaigns both online and offline that announced just how great their content is. Those two things – great content and announcing that great content – are a winning combination. EVERY site that has ever sustained at the top of any industry online had/has the above link profile.
Link Profile 9 – Taken advice from a low-quality, large SEO company?
Ever been called up by one of those SEO companies that have hundreds of small clients that provide links back to the SEO site that in-turn helps them to the top of the rankings for ‘SEO’ phrases? This type of company usually takes on a client, outsources all of their linking to 3rd party link suppliers and does an amount of on-page SEO. They tell clients that they will gain them hundreds and thousands of links. They do. They are in all but most cases absolutely useless. The SEO company then loses the client after 6-12 months unless its a really uncompetitive industry that the client is in and it has remarkably worked. Most clients then change SEO supplier and unfortunately jump from supplier to supplier choosing the same, tired options. Anyway, the result is a link profile that looks like the above, it doesn’t really help, and can causes issues with penalties and related problems. I have seen a couple of sites like this in the past few days and it sure makes you feel for the client – that they fell for it or even fell for it a few times. The links that the SEO company build for your site are not the same links that they use to propel their own site. Strange, eh?
Anyway, thats my link profiles visualisation post, hope you liked it.