How to Tell if a Blog Link is Gold or Rotten

Sometimes when you’re on the prowl looking to acquire links via link trades, buying links or contributing optimized content to a blog in return for a link or two, you can run into some sites which may seem like you’ve struck link gold .. but these opportunities may prove too good to be true.

Case in point, you may find some site owners who are more or less giving away good links on sites with high PageRank or lots of incoming links, but what may look like incredible places to get links from, but I highly suggest taking a deeper look before striking a deal.

Here are some red flags to look for when judging the quality of a site.

Topic Irrelevance : Is the site’s content relevant to its theme or URL? Site relevance is one of the first things I look at when judging the quality of a site or linking partner. If it’s a blog, are all of the posts about the genre or theme of the site? Or are they just blatant reviews designed to make money. If the answer is the latter, then that site has no real value and will probably lose anything it currently has going for it right now. If so, the value of your link will be nothing, or some negative value could be associated with your link.

Dropped Domains : Look through the history of the site via Archive.org and its Who is information to see if the site has been dropped. Google looks at two aspects with dropped or transferred domains : has the site changed hands and has the site changed content.

If you find an obvious site like CatholicsforLieberman.org with lots of juicy association or church links pointing to it, and the site is a WordPress blog running off a default template and blogging about office furniture, stay away from it; it’s been dropped, picked up and all of its old good content was replaced with crap.

Buy a Sponsored Post Buttons : I’m not going to name any companies, but there are a lot of paid blogging review companies out there. Some use good blogs, are responsible and a bit under the radar, others are pure garbage and will result in negative association with a bad linking neighborhood. If you see buttons to buy a post on a blog, WITH A PRICE, and the posts say “Sponsored Post”, and you see that the links in the posts don’t use a no-follow .. hit your back button NOW!

Penises, Viagra and Poker : OK, this should be a given but if the site or blog which you are thinking about obtaining a link from links out to or writes about online gambling sites, penis enlargement or sex pills like Viagra, there’s a 99% chance that you’re about to obtain a link from a spam blog (or splog). Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it … unless you sell penis pumps or have an online poker spam site (and if you do, I hope you’re thinking of better ways of getting links … like comment spamming Search Engine Journal or Daily SEO Tip!)

Generic WordPress Defaults : Not all blogs with generic WordPress templates are spam, but a lot of the spam blogs I run into do not venture too far away from the freebie WordPress templates available from Fantastico or basic WordPress template sites. You’ve probably seen these when you first develop a WordPress blog.

Also, check their “About Us” page, if it says the following, the blog could be spam, new, or just lacking some basic TLC :

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

I really do use this as a quality indicator and if I find a good blog for becoming a link partner with and I see that they have not changed their About Us page, I usually make sure they do so before embarking on a blogging or link campaign with them.