Link diversity is a concept taken too casually in the world of SEO practice, and it is assumed that it needs to be used to make your site optimized. We do not agree with this assumption since SEO practices in 2018 have quite changed in the past few years. In the simplest words, it means the number of sites linking to your site. While it is taken very casually and applied without giving many thoughts, we should certainly assess the role of link diversity in SEO first.
What is link diversity?
Link diversity means gathering inbound links from a number of sites. It can also mean gathering links from various domains like .com, .edu, .net, etc. Or it can mean different anchor text in links or links of different types, such as “follow” or “no follow” links.
The purpose is to maintain the normal backlinks within a normal range so that the site seems to be authentic and not spamming. This is the basic idea behind link diversity.
Link Diversity can make backlinks seem more natural
We have found many people insisting on link diversity and saying that it is very relevant to obtain “no follow links”. The reason they were insisting on this was, that having a lot of links, including no-follow links, makes your site’s backlinks seem natural and authentic. Another reason behind this is that due to this natural look, your site will not be detected by statistical analysis algorithms.
Statistical Link Analysis
Statistical analysis was first used in 2005 at Pubcon New Orleans. The purpose of statistical analysis is to study the characteristics of inbound and outbound links, such as the number of outbound links present on a page, or a number of inbound links to pages within a site, etc. Now, once these characteristics are studied, these characteristics are graphed, the sites which contain various percentages align along a curve, but not spam sites. Spam sites tend to cluster outside of this curve. Since these sites remain outside of the normal range, they are known as outliers.
Statistical link analysis notices the patterns in linking relationships, therefore it was recommended by the SEO industry to acquire a variety of inbound links. So instead of acquiring links from link directories, it was considered better to acquire links from other sources too, this way the backlink profile does not differ much from the normal link profile. This is where the idea of link diversity originated. We will now see if link diversity is still important for SEO.
Why is looking natural important?
In 2005, it was revealed that Google uses statistical analysis to different sites that look statistically different or statistically natural. The spam sites were easily recognized because they looked statistically different. Therefore, the statistical link profile should match the average link profile so that manipulated links are not easily spotted.
There is a difference between anchor text that is keyword optimized and anchor text that is not optimized. A big amount of brand name anchor text can offset the unnatural amount of anchor text that is keyword optimized. This is called anchor text ratio.
Modern Link Analysis
In 2005 statistical analysis, it was easy for spammers to look natural by burying the unnatural looking links under the non-optimized ones, and his site would look statistically normal.
However, this is not possible with modern link analysis. In modern link analysis, seed sets of authenticated sites are used. Then, the distance between these authenticated sites and the site that wants to be ranked for a particular keyword is measured. Thus, the wrong links cannot be hidden under the non-optimized links by spammers anymore. This is a new way of spotting spam sites and is known as Penguin. It gives a whole new definition of “natural looking” sites.
In this modern link analysis, the distance between an approved site and another site using links is calculated. So the links on your site are measured by the quality of sites that they are attached to, and not just by their numbers. In such an analysis, link diversity seems to be completely irrelevant.
Google Link Diversity Research and Patents
The only diversity that search engines like google prefer is about the relationships between sites. Search engines tend to identify ownership identities which helps them to catch spammers using manipulated links.
If a person is running a huge number of sites, then his hosting IP information and the linking pattern can be used to identify the relationships between his sites and spamming can be caught very easily.
There is another idea of removing the manipulated or unimportant link so that only relevant links play a role in the ranking of sites. This process is known as removing the noise in order to identify the signal.
Therefore, it can be appropriate to say that link diversity is not used by any ranking paper to rank your site above the others.
Can we safely ignore link diversity?
While you should never have a poor link building, link diversity can be ignored to a certain level, without causing any harm to your site. There can be two major reasons for this ignorance:
Link Diversity is used by people who have poor link building. Those who cannot build good linking profiles, rely upon the concept of link diversity to justify their procurement of various irrelevant links.
As explained above, search engines have changed drastically in the past few years. While link diversity was used as a factor to rank sites before 2004, the processes and factors that influence ranking have now changed. So, link diversity does not play a great role in the SEO practices anymore.
So obtaining a lot of inbound links is not necessary because of the changes in the search processes nowadays. If you still believe it can be unsafe to ignore link diversity, you can check the backlink profiles of the top ranking sites, you will find that they do not rely upon link diversity at all. And then give a thought by yourself, is gathering a mix of all .edu, .com, .org, for your site worth all the efforts?