In the dynamic world of SEO, backlinks remain pivotal in determining a website's authority and search engine ranking. However, not all backlinks are created equal. The quality of backlinks is crucial in influencing your website's visibility and credibility. Understanding the characteristics of a quality backlink is essential for any SEO strategy. In this article, we will delve into the key attributes that define a high-quality backlink.
One of the most critical characteristics of a quality backlink is relevance. Search engines value links that come from websites with content related to your niche or industry. When a backlink originates from a contextually relevant source, it signals to search engines that your content is authoritative and valuable within its specific field.
Relevant links can be determined in a variety of ways, for example:
- Domain to Domain: The site you’re linking to/that is linking to you is relevant to your brand or is an authority on your target keywords.
- Domain to Page: The keywords/topic of a page linking to your site/being linked to from your site is directly related to your domain’s target keywords.
- Page to Page: The keywords and topics of two pages are semantically related to one another.
- Link to Page: The link makes sense on the page; the context in which it appears is logical and organic, and the anchor text makes literal and semantic sense in context.
Identifying relevant links can help ensure your backlinks are editorial, useful, natural, and relevant.
The authority of the linking domain (DA) is a key determinant of a backlink's quality. However, it’s important to note that DA is not a ranking factor. DA is a metric that was invented by Moz to predict how likely a website would rank in the SERPs. So, while Google may not consider DA, the metric is a good indicator of how authoritative a website is.
While DA can lead you to an authoritative site, that’s not what makes a link authoritative. An authoritative link is relevant (which was talked about above) and demonstrates human value. Human value is an often overlooked aspect of link building. It’s easy to think that link building is an automated task when in fact, there are real people who look at your links to determine if they are right for their audience.
To incorporate human value into your link building process, keep these three best practices in mind when pursuing links:
- Connect with the webmaster
- Show that you understand their audience
- Show them how your piece provides unique value
Search engines favor naturally acquired backlinks over those obtained through manipulative strategies. Google’s spam policies strictly prohibit manipulative link building behaviors, including:
- Buying or selling links for ranking purposes. This includes:
- Exchanging money for links or posts that contain links
- Exchanging goods or services for links
- Sending someone a product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
- Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
- Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
- Requiring a link as part of a Terms of Service, contract, or similar arrangement without allowing a third-party content owner the choice of qualifying the outbound link
- Text advertisements or text links that don't block ranking credit
- Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass ranking credit or links with optimized anchor text in articles, guest posts, or press releases distributed on other sites. For example:
- Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
- Keyword-rich, hidden, or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites
- Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites
- Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature
Quality backlinks are earned through valuable content, excellent user experience, and genuine relationships. To make link-worthy content, be sure to:
- Create content with a specific purpose.
- Create purpose-driven content for a well-defined audience.
- Make your purpose-driven, audience-focused content as good or better than similar content on the web.
Avoid engaging in link schemes or practices that may be perceived as spammy, which can harm your website's ranking.
Contains Dofollow Attribute
Backlinks can be classified into two types: dofollow and nofollow. Dofollow links pass authority and contribute to search engine rankings, making them highly desirable. In the simplest terms, dofollow links are just plain old links.
Nofollow links are attached with a “nofollow” HTML tag. These tell search engine crawlers not to follow the link when they crawl your page. This practice was originally used to combat spam from online forums; however, there is a debate on whether nofollow links are overused.
That’s not to say that these links are “bad.” In fact, nofollow links can still help your SEO. They can still drive traffic, create a better user experience, and leverage social signals.
While a mix of both types is normal, a solid foundation of dofollow backlinks from reputable sources is crucial for SEO success.
The simplest way to obtain dofollow links is to ask for them. When you are reaching out to websites, make sure to explain why a link between your sites is beneficial to the site owner. Reasons could include:
- Audience relevance
- Resource sharing
- Providing unique information
Most site owners will feel comfortable providing a regular link to your content if it benefits their site and audience.
Anchor Text Optimization
The anchor text, or the clickable text of a hyperlink, provides context to search engines about the linked page's content. Quality backlinks often include relevant and descriptive anchor text that aligns with the topic of the linked page. However, it's essential to maintain a natural and diverse anchor text profile to avoid over-optimization.
There are five types of anchor text that you could encounter:
- Exact match: anchor text that exactly matches a particular keyword or phrase that you want to rank for.
- Branded: anchor text is an exact match of the brand that you’re linking to.
- Partial match: at least one word in your link text matches at least one word in a keyword or phrase you want to rank for.
- Generic: anchor text consists of vague phrases like “click here,” “read more,” or “visit our website.”
- Naked: a copy of the URL that it’s pointing to.
You can determine the quality of a backlink from a site by how it uses its anchor text. If their anchor text consists of many generic text or exact matches, it may be considered a spammy practice.
Sometimes, link builders do not have control over the anchor text that external domains use. When you do have control, it’s important to use partial match anchor text to indicate context for human readers and search engines.
The characteristics of a quality backlink remain integral to achieving sustainable online success. By prioritizing relevance, source authority, natural link building, and other key attributes, you can build a strong backlink profile that enhances your website's visibility and authority in the eyes of search engines. As you navigate the intricacies of link building, remember that quality triumphs over quantity, and a well-curated backlink profile is a testament to your website's credibility and relevance in the digital realm.