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How to Assess Backlink Quality (3 Important Factors) High-quality backlinks can improve your website's rankings, while low-quality links can get you penalized. Here's how to evaluate backlink quality and improve your link-building efforts.

By Nick Zviadadze Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • The quality of your backlinks can make or break your SEO strategy.
  • You can get the best quality backlinks by assessing the website's quality metrics, analyzing its SEO standing and ensuring topical relevance.

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Websites use link-building to improve online visibility and get noticed among the fierce competition. But here's the catch: Not all backlinks are good news. On the contrary, some can be downright bad for your online reputation in the eyes of Google.

Acquiring poor-quality backlinks from shady websites or link farms, for example, can harm your site's ranking. Instead of helping you climb the digital ladder, they might become the reason you're dropping in the search results.

In the worst-case scenario, if you build many low-quality backlinks, your website might even get penalized, costing you all your hard-earned rankings.

In this article, I'm going to teach you three easy ways to check the quality of the backlinks you're trying to build. Use these tips along with other SEO techniques to start climbing up the search engine rankings fast.

Related: What Are Backlinks and Why Do You Need Them for Your SEO?

1. Assess the website's quality metrics

When assessing backlinks, you first want to look at the website's overall quality. Several indicators can determine how impactful a website is in the grand scheme of SEO. Here's a quick overview:

Check the DA or DR:

Domain Authority (DA) and Domain Rating (DR) are third-party numerical ratings that give you a better idea of a website's quality and influence. They range from 1 to 100, and the higher the DA or DR, the more valuable those backlinks will be.

Here's a quick rundown of the DA/DR ranges:

  • DA/DR 0 to 20: These websites are likely new, and their backlinks aren't that great. They might improve your rankings only if your website is new.

  • DA/DR 20 to 40: This is the okay range. Backlinks in this zone are decent but not perfect.

  • DA/DR 40 to 60: Backlinks here are great and can give your website a significant boost.

  • DA/DR 60 and beyond: Backlinks from websites with DR 60 and beyond are excellent but harder to secure. Nonetheless, they are worth investing in.

Keep in mind that while DA and DR are handy, some websites inflate these numbers to sell backlinks. That's why you need to keep in mind all the other factors from this list to get a more accurate assessment of backlink quality.

Check the website traffic:

A website without traffic is, in most cases, not worth your time. High traffic generally indicates legitimacy and the potential to attract more readers to your site through backlinks.

A website that people care about and visit is likely to be genuine, as well as provide authentic and valuable content. This resonates with users, encouraging them to return and share the site with others.

Acquiring a backlink from such a website can contribute positively to your online presence by helping you build credibility.

Confirm the website is legitimate:

When trying to get a link from a website, you need to ensure it is a legitimate website with a real person behind it and a real audience. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • About Us page: Confirm that the "About Us" page clearly shows that real people are behind the site.

  • Social media presence: Regular posting on social media is a good sign of an active and genuine website.

  • LinkedIn employee list: A list of official employees on LinkedIn adds to the credibility.

  • Content niche: Check the type of content they publish. A clear niche is better than random topics.

Check if the website regularly sells guest posts:

Although guest posting is a great way to build backlinks, a website that only sells guest posts without having any high-quality, organic content can't provide much value. The only purpose of these websites is to sell backlinks, and Google is not okay with that.

To check if they're solely selling guest posts, look for a dedicated section or disclosure on their website. Additionally, you can explore their blog and content to ensure it gives a genuine, "real website" feel. This should help you distinguish between sites focused on providing valuable content and those merely existing to sell backlinks.

Related: Why Is Your Backlink Profile So Important for SEO?

2. Analyze the website's SEO standing

Now that we've covered the basics of checking a website's authority, let's dive into a crucial aspect: the website's SEO standing. This step is essential to ensure that the backlink you're eyeing is not just smoke and mirrors.

Some shady websites publish a ton of content about different topics to inflate their traffic and make it seem like they are a good option for link-building. In reality, they rank for hundreds or thousands of low-effort keywords, which are, most likely, irrelevant to your business.

Checking their SEO standing with an SEO tool can help you identify which keywords bring in the most traffic and whether this is relevant to your business.

A big red flag you can look out for to spot such websites is a sudden and drastic drop in website traffic. This is an indicator that something went wrong, possibly due to common SEO mistakes or even questionable SEO practices.

3. Ensure topical relevance

Ensuring that a backlink aligns with your website's topic is crucial for Google to tell it is natural and appropriate. If the website's content is not relevant to your website, it's a red flag for Google.

For example, imagine you run a supplement website and you suddenly get a backlink from an SEO agency blog. Google's algorithms don't consider this natural or valuable, as your niche doesn't align with the backlink's niche.

To maximize the impact of your backlinks, you should get them from websites in the same niche as yours or from niches that are closely related. For example, if you run a website about entrepreneurship, you want backlinks from business and startup websites. This helps build a narrative of relevance and authority. In comparison, getting a backlink from a travel website would be like mixing a business plan with a travel itinerary — they just don't align.

In addition, you need to ensure that the specific post where the backlink is placed is also topically relevant to your business. That strengthens the backlink's authenticity and improves its impact on your website's SEO.

Related: Top 8 Backlink Strategies to Boost Your Traffic

The quality of your backlinks can make or break your SEO strategy.

You can get the best quality backlinks by assessing the website's quality metrics, analyzing its SEO standing and ensuring topical relevance.

These SEO tips can help you propel your link-building efforts for better search engine rankings.
Nick Zviadadze

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder at MintSEO

Nick Zviadadze is a growth marketing specialist with more than eight years of experience in SEO, copywriting and content marketing. He’s the founder of MintSEO, a fully-remote SEO and content marketing agency. He helps businesses drive growth by improving their search visibility.

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