Almost five years ago I wrote an article about predicting a site’s future and using your expectation to decide whether you should pursue links on that site today. Much has changed in the search engine optimization (SEO) landscape since then so I decided to expand and update my original article.
It’s interesting to run into sites we’ve worked with in the past and compare their previous and current metrics. Lots of things pop up like:
It’s easy to determine what a site looked like in the past and compare it to the current site by using Archive.org.
You may notice a lot of changes such as good and bad redesigns, deleted links and entire articles removed. Occasionally you may notice whole sites deindexed in Google:
When starting a link campaign, it is important to go through a number of steps or perform “due diligence” using checklists and guidelines you’ve established.
It may be impossible to check every page but try to do as much as possible so nothing is overlooked. Here are some issues to check for:
There’s more depending on the industry and individual website but notice it’s pretty uncomplicated common sense stuff.
So how in the world can you predict what’s going to happen after you finish working on the site?
How do you know the webmaster won’t fill the site up with spam, sell the domain, let it expire or sell the site to a private blog network?
There tend to be signs, both good and bad. Let’s start with the bad signs.
Here are a few red flags to look for when negotiating for link placement:
Now let’s look at a couple factors that distinguish sites where links live for years and everything is still looking great.
Notice the good list is shorter than the bad list. That’s because you never know what will happen. Is everyone going to eventually get hit in some way since the algorithm changes constantly? Maybe.
Don’t forget some people disavow like crazy, and they don’t just disavow single webpages — they disavow entire domains, because it’s easier.
I know of sites who want to disavow upwards of 75% of their links when they don’t even have a penalty or they haven’t been negatively impacted by an algorithmic change!
Honestly, when it comes to links, anything can happen. You never know when a site will be penalized, and it’s possible for them to get caught in a wide net and not deserve it. I’ve seen unfair penalties many times and seen sites suddenly drop in rankings and never get back to where they once were, even if they did nothing wrong.
You can’t predict what will happen in link building or SEO. You can make some very educated guesses but change is the only thing you can really guarantee.
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