The State of High-Quality Backlinks: All You Need to Know
Backlinks are an essential part of every SEO strategy. They boost your rank on search engine result pages and increase your visibility, especially high-quality backlinks. But how can you tell a backlink is of high quality?
Knowing the difference between high and low-quality backlinks helps you attain your SEO goals quickly. Why? The goal of your SEO strategy is most likely to increase visibility for your business.
A few high-quality backlinks easily outperform several low-quality links to boost online visibility. A case in point is Chris Tzitzi’s backlinking campaign.
Chris’s website had several low-quality backlinks for which his website ranked in search engine results. His main keyword also ranked on page 6 of the Google search results. Not bad. Here’s what his site looked like:
But Chris wanted more. He wanted to rank on the first page of those search engine results, and with good reason. Realistically, only a handful of searchers will go beyond the 2nd page, talkless of the 6th. So, he decided to build more high-quality external links for his website.
Here’s what happened:
After five months of building high quality backlinks, the site began ranking number one for its main keyword - and more. The site ranked number one with fewer backlinks compared to competitors in its niche. The number of site visitors increased too.
Here’s what the site analytic looks like now:
This means you don’t necessarily need many external links to rank high on search engines. What you need are high-quality backlinks.
In this article, you’ll learn what a high-quality link is, debunk some myths about link building, and highlight the factors that make a link high quality. So let’s get to it.
What Is a High-Quality Backlink?
Simply put, a high-quality backlink is an endorsement of your website. It's a link from another source that directs an audience to your website and provides value to them without coming off as unnatural and irrelevant.
There's a lot of misinformation on the foundations of a high-quality backlink. So, before we get to what a high-quality backlink entails, let's clear up some of those misconceptions.
Common Misconceptions About What Makes a Quality Backlink
First, you can never know precisely what algorithm Google employs to rank websites. Of course, there are proven practices to help boost your website rank, but no one knows the exact steps to get to number 1.
With all the information out there, it's easy to get lost in misconceptions that don't work. Let's see the most common misconceptions and how they're wrong.
Domain Name Is Everything
Many people consider the top-level domain of a domain name to be critical in Google's ranking. That's not true. For those who don't know, the top-level domain (TLD) is what follows the "dot" in a URL.
Here's what that means. For a URL like www.google.com, the top-level domain is ".com." Get it?
Contrary to popular opinion, Google doesn't rank some TLDs over others. A .com doesn’t carry more weight than a .blog. TDLs like that are simply popular because they were the first TDLs to be used.
So long as the link conforms to the essential link-building rules, you're good to go. Search engine crawlers don't weigh TLDs in search engine rankings.
You Need Hundreds of Links for Every Content
As we saw from Chris Tzitzi's backlinking experiment, you don't necessarily need many backlinks to one piece of content. The higher the backlink quality, the better.
You'll hear it around a lot; you need to push lots of links to that post, increase the number of backlinks, etc. The question is, how quality are those links?
Quantity is Irrelevant
This may seem back and forth, but don't get confused. Quantity matters as well. Consider this.
You have 20 high-quality backlinks from a relevant website whose domain rating is 80. That's great. It means you're a credible site google can rank. But, if your competitor has 5000 low-quality backlinks from a relevant site whose domain rating is 50 as well, shouldn't the quantity matter? After all, it's 5000 backlinks.
You'll likely rank lower if you go up against a competitor like this. In a study to understand the mechanism behind Google rankings, Brain Dean (CEO of Backlinko) discovered that the first result in searches has almost four times as many backlinks as the second to the tenth result.
So, what's the best answer to the quality vs. quantity backlink debate? It's simple. You need to mix your high-quality backlinks with low-quality ones.
It's All About Good Content
You'll often hear that good content is all you need to build quality backlinks to your website. Well, that's true and not true.
First, why it's true. If your information aligns with a user's search intent and holds value, that person can link back to your content. But that's not a foolproof strategy to build links.
Think about it. Your content must be valuable, even different from that of your competitors. Of course, that's something you should have checked off already. But the real problem is authority. You'll have to rank high for the person to find you in searches (which is why you're building backlinks in the first place).
High-ranking writers and journalists will find it hard to link to your work. It's not because your content is terrible. But, these people tend to be experts in their fields and know their stuff.
They're likely to contact other renowned experts in their niche if they need comments or a different perspective on their content. But you'll have to do more than just content if you're looking to build high-quality backlinks.
If you're looking to generate content that's backlink worthy, you can always let the experts help.
Bio Links Don't Matter
Short answer; bios links do matter. Like every other backlink, bio links are no-follow links too. They can increase your backlink profile, especially if your profile needs a boost.
Bio links are just like comment links. Google can't necessarily differentiate between these links. A quality link is a quality link.
Just ensure the bio links have some variety to them. What do I mean? Your bio links should be from different articles, even on the same website. This helps boost your profile and backlink velocity.
Website Design Affects Backlink Quality
You'll turn away valuable prospects from your business if your website design is terrible. Over half of internet users say they won't return to a website with a bad design. Sadly, you only have about seven seconds to show the prospect you can solve their problem.
However, your website design should affect your backlink profile. Besides, the backlink is to your content, not the aesthetic of your website.
But, it's no excuse for a terrible website design. On the contrary, a good website design is the first step to turning your prospects into loyal customers.
What Makes a High-Quality Backlink?
Moving away from misconceptions, let's see what makes a backlink high quality.
You'll hear this word a lot on your link-building journey. In this niche, authority refers to how strong a backlink profile is.
Authority is determined by factors like the number of referring domains your backlink has or credibility (we'll get to that in a bit). So, the more websites that link back to your website, the higher your authority.
You can use tools like Moz and SemRush to measure your website's domain authority. Moz even has a 1-100 scale dedicated to measuring domain authority. A real-life example of a high authority website is CNN.
CNN has several high-ranking domains referring to content from their website (4.49 billion backlinks, to be exact). To Google, CNN is trusted by these domains and their audience. As a result, CNN has a high domain authority/rating, precisely 93. Have a look:
It’s easier to trust a stranger when someone you trust tells you they trust the stranger. Not entirely, but you’ll not be too much on edge. It’s the same way with backlinks.
The more trusted sites that link back to you, the more a search engine trusts you. See what’s happening here? You have a high-quality link if the referring domain is a credible site in the first place.
Several websites seek out credible sites to link back to their content. You can also try that with your website. But, you’ll have to offer top-notch content if you want highly credible external websites to bat an eye at your own website.
Relevance is an essential factor in the quality of a backlink. When search engines crawl your website, they’ll look out for how your website connects to the referring domain. So what is your webpage about, and how does the link help a user?
You can get penalized if the link isn’t relevant to your webpage. You can check a link’s relevancy from an SEO tool like Ahrefs. Here’s an illustration:
However, page relevance doesn’t just imply that both sites should have the same article titles or whatnot. It simply means that both pages have related keywords. So, no, you don’t have to link to competitors.
The link is irrelevant if there’s no related keyword from the referring domain. It makes sense too. How does the roofing contact page connect with the pet store page? It’s possible but improbable.
Types of Backlinks
There’s an endless list of the types of backlinks you can use on your websites. First, I’ll list them below, then we’ll dive deeper into some of the more generic types.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of these incoming links and see what makes them unique.
No Follow Links
There was a time when no-follow links were the buzz. The reason was that content creators realized they could get higher backlink profiles if they simply posted links in comment sections. Smart, right?
It was working for a while before search engines developed the no-follow attribute. This tag helped spot spammy links so search engines could ignore them or give them little consideration.
Most top-ranking sites have several no-follow attributes on their websites. This makes it difficult to tell if search engines really disregard it. To be safe, you can link your site to some no-follow links.
A do-follow link is basically a regular link. It’s a link without the no-follow specification. But, you can’t tell the difference by looking at the outcome. You’ll have to see the HTML code to tell.
These two codes tell you which link is no-follow and which isn’t.
See what I mean?
Link Quality Checklist
Here’s how to determine a high-ranking website to get backlinks from.
Assess quality metrics like domain authority and trust ratio.
Check the target site’s traffic. A good SEO tool like Ahrefs should help. Here’s an example of an Ahref site audit that reveals the website’s traffic.
3. Check for relevance, i.e, relevant keywords.
4. Assess the site’s backlink profile. How healthy is it? Here’s an example of a website with a great backlink profile.
5. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of your research. This helps you strategize and plan your link-building campaigns efficiently. You can use this spreadsheet to streamline your organization.
Think we got everything? What else do you think makes a high-quality backlink? Let us know in the comments.
How Scaleloops Can Help
A few years ago, Google’s algorithm simply monitored the number of referring domains connecting to your website, regardless of quality or the content they linked to. That’s not the case today. You’ll need high-quality links to rank higher. A high-quality link is one that is authoritative, credible, and relevant to your website.
Authoritative and credible sites are only going to link to top-notch and valuable content. You can forget about linking to them if you don't have that right now.
But you don’t have to. At least, not when you can just hire an expert writer to produce content for your website. That’s where Scaleloops comes in.
At Scaleloops, I craft relevant and high-quality content that offers value to your audience and authoritative sites as well. With content like that, you won’t have a hard time generating backlinks.
If you’re looking to supercharge your content to attract backlinks and organic traffic, we should talk.