Attributes That Make a Backlink Good Or “High Quality”
Today, we’re going to talk about the attributes that make a backlink good or “high quality.”As I said in the last lesson, not all backlinks are created equal.
For example, if you spammed forums with links to your site, those wouldn’t and shouldn’t hold more weight than let’s say a link from The Times of Inda.
Otherwise, backlinks would just be a game of quantity, and Google’s search results would reward the biggest spammers.Fortunately, ranking on Google doesn’t work that way and quality backlinks are still a prominent ranking signal.
So with that said, let’s talk about the 5 attributes that make a backlink “good.”
The first attribute is relevance.
Imagine this for a second. You’re going to visit Greece for the first time next month and you need recommendations for places worth going to. Now, you have a friend that has lived in Greece for their entire life and obviously knows every nook and cranny. You also have a friend in the US who hates traveling and has never been outside of the states.
Who’s opinion would you hold higher?
Obviously your Greek friend right. In the same way, links from a website about travel or Greece would hold more weight than links from sites about technology or marketing because they’re more topically relevant and authoritative.
For example, you’ll see that this page is ranking #1 for the query “how to devein shrimp.”
If we look at their backlinks and also filter by one link per domain, we can see their backlinks from different websites. Now, if you don’t have an Ahrefs account, then you can still see backlinks pointing
at pages using our free backlink checker tool, which I’ll leave a link to in the description.
Going back to the backlinks report, you’ll see this page from Wikihow which is called “3 ways to peel and devein shrimp.”
So the link is on a very relevant page. Scrolling down a bit, you’ll see this link from a page called “shrimp with garlic sauce” which again is relevant at the page level. But you can also see that it’s relevant at the domain level too just by looking at their domain name: slimpalate.com.
Both of these links are great from a relevance standpoint, whereas a link like this one isn’t very relevant at all.
The page is about Firefox 3.5, which is a web browser. It comes from a site about video games and computer hardware. So an ideal link would be contextually placed within the body of the content where someone is quite literally recommending or referencing you.
Alright, the next attribute of good quality links is authoritativeness.
If you’re unfamiliar with “authority” in the context of backlinks, it represents the so-called “link power” a web page has. And this relates to how Google’s PageRank works.
As we discussed before, both the quantity and the quality of links matter.
So the more quality links a page gets, the more the PageRank page earns.
And the more PageRank it has, the more authority it can pass to other pages through hyperlinks.
For example, let’s say that page C has two links: one from page A and another from page B.
Page A is stronger than page B, and also has some outgoing Backlinks.
Feed this information into the PageRank algorithm, and you will get the PageRank of page ‘C’.
Now, this is a simplified version of how the PageRank works, but the key point
here is that getting links from high-authority pages will likely have the greatest impact on your rankings.
As we know that Google doesn’t provide PageRank or website authority scores, we have two metrics (DR | PR). Domain Rating(DR) is our website authority score and it represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile.
And URL rating is our page-level authority scores which represents the overall strength
of a website page’s backlink profile. And you’ll find both of these metrics throughout most of Ahref’s tools, giving your insights on referring pages.
Now, we’ve covered two very important parts of good quality backlinks, but what we haven’t talked about yet is the actual link itself.
So let’s break down the anatomy of a hyperlink and talk about how the different parts relate to SEO.
Google uses (anchor texts) to better understand what a page is about and what terms it should #Rank for. But building lots of links with keyword-rich anchors is an example of a link scheme,
and may result in a Google penalty because it looks unnatural.
For example, if you had a post on the best golf balls and had a hundred links pointing
to it where the anchor texts were all “best golf balls,” then it would look and be quite unnatural.
People use anchors such as the company’s brand name, the URL, the title of the page, or phrases like “click here.”
And the last part of the link we’ll talk about is the “rel” attribute.
Some links contain a “rel” attribute, which is intended to tell bots about the relationship
between the linking page and the linked page.
There are 3 “rel” values that you must know about when it comes to link-building are nofollow, UGC, and sponsored. Historically, nofollow links told Google bots that the linking page’s would rather not associatethemselves with the linked page.
And that’s why Google didn’t transfer “authority” through those links.
But then Google added a couple of other “rel” values: UGC, which stands for user-generated content, and sponsored, which signifies an ethical paid link.
If a link doesn’t have any of these “rel” values, then it would be a “followed” link.
Meaning, the link can pass PageRank and help to boost your rankings.
Now, it’s important to note that nofollow and UGC links aren’t bad.
It’s just that followed links are proven to pass authority.
One final thing I want to touch on this link placement.
Prominent links are more likely to be clicked right and it’s believed that Google takes this into account when determining how much authority a link transfers to another page.
For instance, an editorial link is more likely to be clicked and better than a link in the footer.
So to summarize:
5 Characteristics of a High-Quality Backlink
- Authority websites.
- Social Media Signals.
An ideal link would come from a relevant and authoritative page where the link is “followed.” It would have a descriptive anchor and be placed contextually within editorial content. But the truth is a lot far from your control. What is in your control is how you spend your time building links.
By using these 5 attributes to help qualify prospects or people that are worth contacting, you’ll spend your time building links that will actually move the needle.
Now, the easiest way for a beginner to start building links is to use tried and tested tactics.