If you have a website and you’re worried about its ranking, there’s no way you can avoid dealing with backlinks.
Since the very first day of your site, they become one of the most important factors that help you to rise to the top in the SERP.
But do all backlinks help you to rank?
Well, unfortunately, the answer is NO!
Over time, there have been a lot of changes in how links impact your rankings.
Even a few years ago, you could simply rank higher on Google by having a ton of backlinks.
However, since Google launched its Penguin update, link building has become a work of creativity, not numbers.
Now, it’s crucial to have quality backlinks if you don’t want to get penalized by the search giant.
So, if you don’t want to risk the quality and ranking of your website, you’re just in the right place.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of how you can identify a prospective domain for quality backlinks.
Why Backlink Quality Matters
Before you evaluate the quality of your backlinks, you may want to know what is a quality backlink and why does it matter.
In SEO, a quality backlink refers to a dofollow link that is placed naturally within your content, pointing to a page of your site.
It’s a long-term process and sometimes takes months to get high quality backlinks.
Ever wonder why it’s important?
It’s because how much link juices a backlink passes to your site depends on its quality.
A good backlink can significantly improve your ranking and boost your site’s traffic, whereas a bad one will do nothing but get you penalized by Google.
Even a few years ago, people tended to artificially pump up the number of backlinks by using some techniques such as buying links, comment spam, over optimizing the press releases, among others.
To stop this manipulation, Google had to update its algorithm, thus making sure everyone focuses on quality over quantity when it comes to getting a backlink.
How to Evaluate Backlink Quality
Not every backlink is created equal. There are some factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right backlink for your website.
By now, you might be wondering how you can create quality backlinks for your site.
The truth is, there’s no single metric that will determine whether a domain is perfect to give you a backlink.
There’s no easy way to determine the quality of a prospective domain, but the following tips will help you to understand how you can get an overall idea about the quality of a backlink.
Let’s have a look at them:
This is one of the easiest yet most important metrics to evaluate a backlink.
How is that?
When determining a domain’s quality, the higher the traffic the better candidate it can be for your backlinks.
High traffic indicates that the site is popular and the owner is reliable.
A website usually gets higher traffic when its contents are higher in quality and can fulfill the users’ intent.
If you get a backlink from your niche with high organic traffic, chances are a significant portion of its traffic will fall for your website, thus increasing the traffic of your site.
Besides, Google loves what its users’ love and will consider a site trustworthy if it has high organic traffic.
No doubt, the search giant will put that site into a higher rank.
When you get backlinks from a site with high traffic, it becomes easier for you to gain trust from Google, which is great for your SEO.
Now, how do you determine a domain’s traffic?
Remember, these are third-party tools and won’t give you the exact traffic number.
So, are they of no use?
Of course they are!
These tools will provide you with a good number of traffic estimations that can be used to determine a domain’s quality.
Check Domain Authority
Most people overlook this metric while building backlinks. However, doing a domain authority check is crucial if you want a qualitative backlink profile.
You must be wondering what is domain authority and why it’s important.
If you’re new to SEO, you may not have an idea about this terminology since it’s not an official Google metric.
Instead, it’s a term used by Moz that refers to a site’s strength based on the quality of websites linked to it and from which pages.
DA ranges from 0 to 100.
Like organic traffic, you should choose a site with higher DA since the score indicates the website’s ability to rank.
High DA means the site has a significant number of high-quality external links, meaning that, getting a backlink from such sites can surely help you to rank higher.
So, how are you going to check a site’s domain authority?
You can do it by using the MozBar (its free SEO toolbar), Link Explorer in its website, or in the keyword explorer’s SERP Analysis section.
Besides, there are dozens of SEO and marketing analysis platforms that incorporate this metric.
Identify Referring Domains
If you confuse the backlinks with referring domains, you’re not alone.
There are a lot of people who mix up these two terms.
Backlinks are URLs, which direct traffic to your website while referring domains are the domains that link out to another website.
Any referring domain can have one or multiple links to a website.
Here, you need to analyze the backlink profile of those websites your preferred domain is linking out.
Determining if the domain is right for you is quite easy here.
Just check if the domain is constantly linking out to a particular website.
If so, maybe this site is a PBN and definitely not the right choice for you.
Remember, having fewer backlinks from multiple sites always give you better results than having numerous backlinks from a single site.
So, if you see the domain is providing an abnormal number of backlinks to some other websites, you should skip that for good.
Age is an important factor when it comes to prospecting domains for backlinks.
As a website owner, you must know how much time it takes to gain a good number of traffic.
You need to do site optimization, create quality content, and do proper promotion to attract the audiences, which may take years to get the desired result.
So, you don’t want backlinks from a site that doesn’t possess such qualities.
Newer websites have significantly lower traffic from Google, hence getting a backlink from them won’t do much for your site.
So, how can you check the age of a domain?
Opt for tools like SEO Chat that can help you determine the age of a website. I
f you see the domain age is less than one year, you better skip it.
However, there are exceptions.
A relatively newer website can provide you quality backlinks if it had a good launch and received lots of links from other bloggers to rank higher on Google.
Are The Anchor Texts Relevant?
Anchor text relevance is a must since Google uses it as a way to determine if a destination URL is relevant to its linking page.
It means the clickable text should use that page’s target keyword in a way so that it looks natural and relevant to the page it’s linking to.
For example, if there’s an article about fishing linking to a page that sells fishing tools, the ideal anchor text for it can be fishing rod, hook, cork bobber, or simply fishing tool.
Also, the page it’s linking to must be relevant.
Here, a link to the fishing tool page using fishing rod as an anchor text is quite relevant.
But if you see the linking page is about something that has no relation with fishing, there’s something wrong with the site linking to it.
It happens mostly with the gambling sites or somethings that promote drugs.
So, Read some published content in that site and have a look to the anchor texts.
Do they seem unnatural?
If yes, that’s not the backlink you want.
Analyze The Naturalness of Linking Page
The quality of a domain depends a lot on the pages it’s linking to.
If you see your preferred website is linking to some pages that sell illegal drugs or anything suspicious, getting a backlink from it won’t be a good idea.
As I already mentioned, such links are hidden under an irrelevant anchor tex to manipulate the PageRank.
People do such things, thinking that they can trick Google.
This is where they make the most unforgivable mistake.
Google can detect the irrelevance while they crawl the page and penalize the websites for doing so.
Websites linking to such unnatural pages have high spam scores and can harm your website’s ranking.
So, it’s highly suggested that you conduct a backlink audit before going for a domain.
Before you confirm a domain to give you backlinks, find out where the link indicating your page will be located on its page.
Not understanding why?
Moz’s co-founder Rand Fishkin explains how links in difefrent location in a content can impact your SEO.
While each link on a page offers some link juice, not all of them possess the same value.
Usually, there are 5 sections of a webpage:
- Left sidebar
- Right sidebar
While you’re looking for backlinks for SEO purposes, only consider the link that appears within the body content.
Also, location of that link in a body content determines how much link juice it will pass to your site.
The higher the link will be placed, the easier it will be for the readers to reach you.
Besides, if you see a particular page is placing links into other sections rather than its body, it’s because the page has a lot of external links.
It could be a sign of PBNs or pages that exist only to sell backlinks.
Also, do check other links surrounding the link to your page.
Make sure they are not linking to some low-quality pages, which can eventually harm your ranking.
A good way to check if you’re getting backlinks from some PBNs, which Google hates.
While IP address isn’t particularly a sign of a bad link, it helps you to find out whether you’re prospecting a unique and authentic domain or not.
Links coming from multiple links that have the same IP address only confirm one thing about those websites – these are private blog networks.
These domains are far away from Google’s trusted seed sites, thus end up doing more harm than good to your SEO.
Getting backlinks from those sites can make your site removed from the SERP if you’re unlucky.
Also, do look out for ID addresses from countries like India, Russia, and China.
These are known as spam-heavy countries, so avoid getting links from domains located in these countries if your business doesn’t belong there.
Detect The Site’s Social Share Magnitude
Does the domain you’re planning to get a backlink from have a strong social media existence?
Does it have profiles on most popular social media platforms?
How many followers does it have?
These are some of the important factors you need to consider while prospecting a quality domain.
A strong social media profile indicates that the website is popular among the audiences of its niche.
It interacts with its users through social sharing, commenting, as well as engaging in different social media campaigns.
If you can manage a backlink from such sites, it will be a great achievement for you.
Imagine the content is being shared through various platforms, which means you’re getting viewers, as well as new linking opportunities.
While backlinks are one of the most crucial factors in your ranking, they can also be the reason for your loss.
That’s why you need to be careful about where you get your backlinks from.
Whether you have a new or old site, there’s no shortcut when it comes to link building.
Since Google is constantly updating its algorithm, it’s becoming more and more efficient in separating spam from natural links.
So there’s no way you can fool the search giant.
If you don’t want the links to harm your reputation, sit tight, roll up your sleeve, and start evaluating each of the backlinks using the metrics mentioned above.
Sujan Sarkar is one of the co-founders of OneLittleWeb. He leads the agency with over a decade of experience.
In 2018, he founded OneLittleWeb, driven by a vision to fill a void in the industry, providing top-quality SEO and backlink services.
His impressive track record includes crafting over 25,000 backlinks for more than 1100 clients, generating over 1 billion in traffic. This has earned him a significant presence in the SEO realm.
He successfully leads a dedicated team of 65+ SEO professionals, focused on helping SaaS and Enterprises scale their organic traffic.
Sujan firmly believes that the best backlinks are not paid for but earned through high-quality content and strategic relationships.
Every day, he works tirelessly to position your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds, striving to elevate your brand’s visibility and authority.
His daily inspiration centers around securing client features on top-tier publications like Forbes, MSN, BBC, Yahoo, and many more. He leverages the right SEO strategies to achieve this mission.