Link Positioning on External Sites

What relationship does link positioning on external sites have with the effectiveness of a link for delivering results to your site? (I’m just going to stop for a breather after that horrible sentence… the rest will be better… honest)

Some would argue that links are links and you take them where you can get them.  Surely though it is smarter to try and get links that are actually worth something to your site – particularly if you were about to part with cash for them.  Onwards with our SEO training – Lets take a look at how the position of the link on the external site can have an effect on how effective the link is for you and your SEO.

It is important to note that positioning is just one element in the SEO equation.  We will look at others in future posts.

Link Positioning for SEO

Link Positioning for SEO

Banner and button links: Google does not like paid links.  Banner, Skyscraper and button links are images.  This in itself is not bad.  There is little difference between a text link and alt text in a link.

What is bad is that the positioning of these elements is just about always the same on a site.  Worse still they often come with “Sponsored links” or some other such text in their vicinity.  That is like painting yourself yellow, wearing nothing but a pink tutu, and running past Google buildings shouting “I paid for a link” while a team push flyers with the details into the hands of everybody entering or leaving the building.   Obviously it’s the algorithms you have to worry about mainly (unless you get a personal review). A link to another site from a banner is therefore only worth the number of clicks you get from it.  Add in “ad blindness” and paying for a banner ad seems to make little sense in most cases.

In truth it probably won’t do you too much harm to buy button or banner ads, but it’s not likely to do you as much good as you would like in terms of SERPS.  That said, a nice banner ad on a popular and related site could get you enough click throughs to make it worthwhile.

Footer Links: This is one for you web designers.  You put your links onto every page you design…. in the footer.  It doesn’t do you any good.  Well, it doesn’t do you any good compared to having a nice link in the middle of the page copy.  The footer is also another place where advertising is often placed.  In short, don’t expect much from footer links – they do not work well.

Header Links: Links in the header are not a lot of use either, for much the same reasons.  In general the only links you ever see in headers are paid advertising.  The search engines know it.

Positioning in the source code structure: When your page is crawled, it is the source file that will be read.  Traditionally, important content would be placed as high up that code structure as possible.  This is because crawlers used to only crawl a proportion of each page.  Using CSS you can float the main column rather than the side bar, thus it is closer to the start of your code.  It is still worth doing this for other search engines, but not necessary for Google any more.  Google can understand your page layout (providing you keep to reasonable standards).  Thus positioning in the source code is not as important as positioning on the page.

Best position on the page for a link: I love in-text links.  I think that a good relevant link in the middle of a paragraph of relevant text is the bees knees.

Surrounding Text: What about the text surrounding a link?  I think that the surrounding text is quite important.  It helps to show context and is simply a way of telling dumb machines that it is less likely to be a spam link.

Blogrolls and other Site-wide links: It depends on the site, but having the same link on every page of a site is often not as good as a few links on relevant pages.  Firstly, Site-wide links may be confused with advertising, secondly, in my experience they are just not as good in many cases.  So, if somebody offers to put you in their blogroll, ask them for a link in a few individual blogs instead.  You can ask for a few, because it will probably seem to them like they are giving you something less important.  Get some blogging training and start making great quality links for yourself.

The ideal place for a link on an external site: The perfect link position in my book is in the center of the page (in the main body of text), as near as possible to the top of the page, with relevant surrounding text and good keyword use.

Links are less useful if:-

  • The link is in the header or footer sections of the page.
  • The link is in a list of unrelated links.
  • The page is badly formed (broken source code)
  • The link is in Javascript
  • It is an image link that has no alt text (makes it nearly entirely useless)

When it comes to training someone on link building, there are a lot of factors that go into what makes a good link.  The page positioning on the external site is just one of the factors that play a role in how effective your SEO is.

Search engine optimisation relies on a wide range of factors (there are over 200 elements taken into account by Google when analysing a page).  The wonderful thing about SEO is that even by paying attention to just a few you can make a positive change to your site.

About Ian Wortley


Ian is one of Irelands leading SEO consultants with over 8 years experience in the Irish market. Ian discovered his love of all things internet related in 2005 and has been living nearly exclusively online since then, causing much worry to friends and family, but getting great results for clients. Contact Ian: Phone: 01 6854806 Mobile: 086 3817149