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Are all links created equal?

We all know that links are one of the major factors in search engine ranking. External links are the key, of course, but internal links around your own site have a role to play too. However, whether they’re on your own site or others’, are some worth more than others?

For once, I’m not talking about the ‘quality’ of the external sites where the links appear – of course the links are worth more if they’re on highly ranked sites. They’re also worth more if they’re on the sites’ more significant pages and not buried away in obscurity. What I want to highlight is another factor: where the links are on the page.

We’ve probably all seen those footer links placed by web design companies on clients’ sites which say something like “web designers in Mordor”. Do these count for anything?
As ever, the answer is to use common sense. Google is trying to use links as an indicator that the page being linked to is being cited as a reference. So of course a link down in the footer isn’t that significant. Indeed – and this might be a surprise, until you think about it – if a link appears on every page across a site, in an obscure position, it’s probably less important than a single link which appears in a decent position on one page only.

Top-level site navigation links clearly are going to be important. By their nature, these will only be short labels, so they can’t impart much context. If you want to create a link whose anchor text is a specific and substantial search term, the best one is likely to be within the main body copy of an article about a relevant subject. Engineering that can take some thought and effort.