What Defines a Good Link?
Not all backlinks are equally valued.
A dozen high-quality, “good backlinks” can positively impact your SEO progress. Yet, a dozen of low-quality, “bad backlinks” links can either make little difference or pummel your progress to the ground if they’re considered spammy.
So let’s define what makes a good link. Here’s what you need to know.
Type of placement
The type of link placement is your go to guideline when assessing link quality. Think of it this way – the more resources you invest (time, research, communication, content, etc.) the higher the link quality.
(Poor Quality)Links in comments
- There’s no need for editorial outreach
- Takes no more than 5 minutes to write content for comment and publish it
- No vendor pricing
- Link opportunities can be found extremely easy
- Links are easily placed, but often marked as no follow
(Medium Quality) Directory Listings
- There’s no need for editorial outreach
- It takes around 20 minutes to write content for a directory listing and publish it
- Some publishers require premiums to publish your listing
- Homepage link is mandatory, pages are difficult to place
- Link opportunities can be found easy
(High Quality)Guest Post Links
- It takes 8 - 11 touch points with the editorial team before they publish your piece of content
- It takes at least a day to write a piece of content 700-1000 words long, a day to edit it and perform a round of revisions with the editorial team
- Some publishers require premiums to publish your content
- Links to “money pages” can be difficult to place if the target page is of poor quality
- Link opportunities are rather difficult to find
A link within the content of a blog post is going to have a much greater impact on your link building campaign overall, compared to a link from a comment. The search engine algorithm is fine tuned to recognize the effort going into a single link by recognizing the content around it.
However, you shouldn’t dismiss other types of link placements as they play a role in building your backlink portfolio. Directory listings are often advised as a supplement to your link building efforts as they are an easy way to form natural anchors, brand mentions and consolidate your businesses name, address and phone number info across the web.
Topic relevant content
Content is what adds context around your link. And links within a content are there to add additional context or further reading around the topic you are discussing.
You wouldn’t expect to read through an article that discusses web design best practices and find a link in it that leads to a gardening tool product page, wouldn’t you? It would seem out of place, simply off, right?
But the topic scope doesn’t end here, we can go further. Take into an account the same article discussing web design practices, but now imagine you found it in a blog column or category labeled as “Travel and Leisure”. Or even further, it’s on a website that has categories ranging from health, travel and fashion over to business, tech and law.
Now let’s try another way around. You are signed up for a newsletter on website that covers business and tech topic, and you regularly follow web design column there for new ideas and trends. Someone publishes a blog post discussing UX practices when designing mobile apps with accessibility-first approach and places a link to their company website, namely a link to their case study of building that app. Would you find this link informative? Does it lead to a relevant resource for further reading? Would you just close the page or would you take a few minutes to research what else was that company offering or working on?
This is why topic relevance is important. Not only to add context and augment the user flow, but the search algorithm is tweaked in a way to recognize and award these patterns with positive metrics.
Links published on reputable, trusted websites
Let’s go back to the previous paragraph, did you read it?
Although you may find websites that pass topic relevance, context and content grading, it’s most likely that a better one is waiting right around the corner.
Websites earn from ads and subscriptions, and they all compete for similar audiences. Their revenue relies on their reputability, information accuracy, tone, voice and brand behind it.
This is why publications like Engadget, with their editorial team, content calendar, recognized authors and unbiased product reviews will always stay ahead of TechBuzz.
Simply put, link on reputable websites add more value.
Good links, in metrics and nerd stats
If all of the above is checked, we can then run through some simple metrics that define a good backlink. So here’s a lightning round of Ahrefs metrics to check:
- DR (Domain rating) – is a metric that shows the relative strength of a website’s backlink portfolio. It goes 0 – 100 and scales logarithmically, meaning, it grows fast from 0-35, and then it slows down. A good link is anywhere above DR 45.
- Organic traffic – any website that has over 400 organic traffic in Ahrefs is okay.
- RP/RD Ratio (The number of outgoing links a website has) – A backlink from a domain or from a web page that links to hundreds of other URLs is less valuable than the one with just a few. The perfect ratio is 5:1 but again, this may vary based on the website size.
- “Dofollow” vs “Nofollow – links marked as “Dofollow” are preferable. However, if you have a chance to get a no-follow link from a high-quality website, then go for it.