We know that much of your website’s ranking in Google is to do with the number of links from other websites, and we also know that the value of those links varies wildly. I’m often asked by clients: “A certain directory doesn’t send me many visitors, but is it worth having the page there, with its link, just for any impact in Google?” And that’s an extremely good question.
I would say probably not, and here’s why.
We don’t know the “importance” which Google assigns to each website, but if I were Google, I would base that importance largely on the traffic to the website. Fair enough, but now you’re probably thinking: “Hang on, Google doesn’t know how much traffic a website gets”. However, that’s where you’d probably be wrong. Google is almost certainly sending most websites the vast majority of their website visitors, and of course it knows exactly how many it has sent. Also, in any particular sector, it probably has a fair idea of the proportion of your overall visitors which its own traffic represents. So actually, it has a very good idea of how busy most websites probably are.
Now, if a website only sent you 5 visits last year, you’ll probably be thinking it’s not worth subscribing to on the basis of that traffic alone. But you’ll also be wondering if you might miss the link, in terms of its Google impact. My guess is that you wouldn’t, because if the site only sent you 5 visits last year, it can’t be getting many visitors*. And if a site is not getting many visitors, Google knows that, and (I believe) it won’t rank the site as being very important.
Similarly, however, you might be assessing the value of a site which sent you a lot of visitors, but which costs a lot of money. If the traffic is nearly worth it, could the “link value” be enough to make the package worth the investment? In this case, I’d say it probably is, because those visitors indicate that the referring site is busy enough to be rated highly by Google. So pay a lot of attention to how many visitors other sites send you. In the end, it probably says everything about them.
* Of course, you need to look at the link too. If a site sent you 5 visitors from an obscure link buried in an old article, it might indicate that the site is actually very busy. It’s your call.