We all know backlinks are essential to rank highly in organic search but just where is the best place to start with a link-building strategy? Many strategies are simply a waste of time and it’s surprising that anyone is even using then still – such as mass directory listings, forum signatures or comments. Anyone with their finger on the pulse of SEO already knows this but how can you be sure that the strategy you are using is adding value to your SEO campaign and digital marketing efforts? How can you measure the quality of the backlinks you have obtained?
Let’s take a look…
Determining quality of a backlink
Just like real-life referrals are more valuable to a business if they come from someone well-known and trusted so it’s the same for backlinks. Use these checks to determine if your backlinks are good quality:
Linking domain authority
All of the well-known SEO software systems use their own measure of how trustworthy a website is but they are all basically checking for similar criteria. You could use Moz’s Domain Authority DA, Majestic SEO’s Trust Flow TF, SEO PowerSuite’s Domain Inlink Rank or SEMRush’s Authority Score. Choose the one use by your software provider or simply use the free Chrome MozBar add-on and see DA in your browser. DA is a measure out of 100 and the higher the better so look for sites with a DA of around 30 or more.
Linking domain relevance
Domain Authority is one measure of the quality of the website but relevance is also important. If the linking website is in a similar or related industry then that is also a mark of quality. So a DA 28 website that is highly relevant to your business could be more valuable to you than a DA 32 website from a totally unrelated industry or field. Use common sense when making a judgement on whether to seek a backlink from a particular website.
Of course, relevancy is important but again a judgement call is needed in many circumstances. For instance, a major news outlet such as the BBC or CNN is covering a story about your business and providing a backlink – clearly that will have value even though the site is not specifically related to your business. The same is true of business organisations such as the Institute of Directors.
The clickable word(s) that form a backlink are also important for the quality of the backlink. It’s fine if the text is your brand name or domain name and it’s fine if the words are general terms such as “click here” or “find out more here”. It’s also a sign of a good value backlink if the anchor text is a meaningful phrase that relates to the page it is linking to. For example, a backlink anchor text with the words “research into AI health apps” that links to a scientific paper about AI health apps is a valuable link. But what you need to avoid are links that are clearly promotional and don’t sit naturally within the text.
Other links on the page
Since each backlink is effectively a referral it makes sense that other “referrals” on the same web page will affect the value of your backlink. Just as if someone in “real-life” recommends 100 companies for a particular job each recommendation is worth less than if a person recommends just a few businesses. And so it is with links so look out for web pages that limit the number of external links they place in order to increase the value of your link.
Also check which other links might be on the page – if your link is present along with links to major, well-known websites then that is another bit of value for your link. If the other links on the page are to little-known or poor quality websites then that will detract from the value of your link.
The “dofollow” tag
Last but not least there is a little bit of HTML code that will indicate to the search engines whether the website placing the backlink want to give it some weight that will help the organic rankings of the site it is linking out to. A link is “dofollow” only when the word “nofollow” forms part of the link within the html. Take a peek at the source code and if you don’t see “nofollow” then it is a “dofollow” link. Note that “nofollow” links have no SEO value, but can still drive referral traffic to your website.
These are not the only measures of value when it comes to developing a valuable backlink profile to boost organic search rankings, but they are a good place to start. Happy link-building!