Whether you’re doing a quarterly audit to assess your backlink profile and prospects, just getting started with link building and wondering how to assess backlink quality, or somewhere in between... you’ve come to the right place. If you haven’t yet jumped on the link building train, now is the time.
Link building is still a critical part of your SEO strategy today and can help improve your traffic, rankings, authority, and brand awareness. It’s important to remember that earning natural and quality backlinks through top link building strategies is the ultimate goal.
However, evaluating a site for “quality” can sometimes be a misunderstood concept in SEO. As a result, you may overlook sites during your outreach that can provide value and help drive ranking, or you may include prospective sites that will provide little to no value, or worse – get you penalized.
So, how do you know what a quality backlink is, and how do you assess site quality for your backlink prospects? Both great questions – let’s dive in and help you scale up a high-impact link building program.
What is a Quality Backlink?
In short, a quality backlink is one that is natural, authoritative, and highly relevant. But, there’s more to that in SEO.
The types of backlinks that are qualified and highly valuable are:
- Dofollow links
- Links from trustworthy, authoritative, and relevant websites
- Contextually relevant links for your business and industry
- Links from a variety of sites (i.e. new linking domains)
- Links with relevant anchor text
Focusing on the overall quality and contextual relevance of the links you’re trying to earn (or even get rid of) is a key aspect of your link building strategy. However, you should also analyze a website as a whole for quality before trying to earn a backlink from them.
How to Analyze a Website to Assess Backlink Quality: 6 Key Elements to Consider
There are many elements to consider when earning good backlinks to boost your site’s expertise, authority, and trust.
The first element to consider is the content of the website itself. Ensuring the content of the prospective backlink is relevant and natural is important. Niche websites rather than generic sites are often higher quality and will drive targeted traffic to your site.
You should also consider whether the website’s content is up to date. Is the content old or infrequent? Would it bring traffic and qualified leads to your site? If yes, there may be a good chance that earning a backlink from this website will benefit your site over time. If not, you might be better off looking for higher quality websites.
You’ll also want to consider the admin side of the website you’re assessing. Is the website authoritative? Does it seem legitimate? The last thing you want is for a spammy website to link to you. A few items on the website that you can analyze to ensure you’re not doing link outreach to low quality sites are:
- About Us pages
- Admin and author pages
- Types of guest posts
- Info such as phone, email, address
Purelinq’s Puregrade tool can help you determine if a website linking to yours is high or low quality. Other tools to consider using are Ahrefs, which we’ll discuss more below, or similar SEO monitoring tools.
3. Link Profile
The link profile is often the most mentioned element to analyze when assessing backlink quality. Ahrefs is a great tool for assessing link profiles. The key items you should consider when looking at a website’s link profile include:
- The number of links pointing to certain pages - you should stay away from any profiles that might have excessive links but don’t seem legitimate and could be spammy.
- Authority - look at the website’s domain authority (DA) or domain rating (DR). Earning high authority backlinks are often better, as long as they’re relevant, for passing along a stronger vote of expertise, authority, and trust to your site.
- Relevance - Ensuring that the links that point to your website make sense is key for earning more quality, highly targeted traffic and leads.
Read more about underrated Ahrefs features here!
The fourth element to consider when assessing a website for backlink quality is authorship. Analyze the names and bylines of authors in addition to author bios or pages if the site has them. Seeing who contributes to the site’s content, or the experience of guest content writers, thought leaders, etc. are all helpful in determining the authority and expertise of the website.
5. Authority / Reputation
In addition to authorship, assessing the general authority and reputation of the website is another key element to consider. Does the website have a positive presence? Who is their audience and following? Do they get good website engagement? Asking these questions as you analyze a website will help point you in the direction of higher authority backlinks. A great content marketing tool to use to assess reputation and authority is Buzzsumo.
Last, but not least, analyzing the technical side of websites is also just as important to content, authority, and relevance. No one wants poor performing backlinks, as this may signal less trust and can create a poor user experience. Some areas you may want to assess include:
- Website performance: Is the website performing well? (PageSpeed Insights is a great tool to use.)
- Indexability: Are the website and specific URL that you’d like to earn a backlink from being indexed by search engines?
- Location: Is the website’s location and audience geographically relevant to yours?
- Page engagement: What is the layout of the site like, and does it provide a good user experience? What does their linking strategy look like?
These are all key technical aspects to consider when assessing a website.
A final tip to keep in mind when analyzing and reviewing a site for quality is to weigh each element. There may not be a definitive roadmap for every website assessment. Some aspects of a site might be more important than others to you. It can depend on what your top goal is, the type of link building techniques you’re using, and other factors.
For example, you may weigh domain authority as your most important element in order to earn a couple highly authoritative backlinks. Or, maybe you’re focusing on digital PR and thought leadership, so you’ll weigh authorship aspects as most important when reviewing a site.
Whatever you decide, we hope these elements provide a helpful framework for knowing and understanding how to earn high quality backlinks from high quality, contextually relevant websites.
All aboard the link building train – it’s time to scale up your high impact link building program! Need the right help and expertise doing so? Get in touch with our SEO team today.