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Bites tongue to stop from describing 'most SEOs'. However, I'll let the quotation marked implication stand.
Time for SEOs to stop trusting the link fairy.
... none of you can show me which links are passing value. Not one of you. Even I cannot do that.
The only valid, credible test that anyone has produced in the last 12 years is the unique anchor text test...
Problem is, most links don’t use unique anchor text. In fact, most SEOs don’t even care about unique anchor text.
Intuitively it may look like every site that ranks first for a specific term is doing so because of links but I can find many queries where the top-listed sites have far fewer links than the sites below them. And don’t give me any B.S. about “link quality”. You wouldn’t know a quality link if it sat on your lap and stroked your face.
Until you can tell whether a link passes value within a search engine’s index, you are wasting your time with all your “backlink research”.
Until you can tell whether a link passes value within a search engine’s index, you are wasting your time with all your “competitive research”.
Until you can tell whether a link passes value within a search engine’s index, you are throwing your money away on paid links, spun articles, blog networks, and outsourced link building.
I have three comments:
First: while I agree that it is improbable that anyone outside of a given search engine (and few even there) know if a given link is passing value or, if so, which values (definition list not included for the purposes of this post) should the improbable occur such a competitive advantage would tend to deep dark silence.
Second: the illusion of demanding specific link value identification is a gi-normous hook on which to hang the accompanying premise.
Third: while I optimise I do not specifically optimise for SEs although more often than not the results may look as though I do.
Corollary: backlink research, competitive research et al are not confined within a SE focus.
Addendum: links and competitors came before SEs, have value beyond SEs.
Note: all of which I know you know but just saying for those who believe the web revolves around Google.
Have I ever bought links? Yes. Very specific links for very explicit reasons. But none in recent years. Have I ever requested links? Yes. Again, very specific links for very explicit reasons. Few in recent years. And never explicitly for SE ranking, only for initial indexing.
What deliberate backlink building I've ever done has been for traffic value, especially targeted traffic conversion value. And that can be confirmed by log file and click track analysis.
However, I do run occasional non-SE referer analysis that includes looking at the relative (increasingly so in these days of personalised searches) SERP (in B, G & Y) of the referring page (for the anchor text and (undisclosed) associated terms). This is not a look at it's TBPR but SE query positions.
Does that tell me whether the link itself is passing any value to my page? No. However, it does provide relative potential values that when when added to similar data for other backlinks of my page and SE traffic volume and convertibility (and occasional query SERPs input) can be illuminating.
Personally that is as close as I have been able to get to your demand. Within site of the ballpark but not close enough to call the pitches.