The Anatomy of a Good Quality Backlink
July 20, 2019
Good quality backlinks drive more visitors to your website
by Maureen McCabe
Every website owner wants more backlinks to their website. Every business owner wants better backlinks and more customers. But few understand well what makes a good backlink and the dangers of chasing the “perfect backlink.”
First, what are backlinks, and why do you need them?
Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. They are how a potential customer gets to your website from Facebook, from a blog post, from a news website or from anywhere else on the Internet.
Backlinks boost your website’s search engine rankings. The search engines see backlinks as votes for your website.
The more “votes” your website gets, the higher it ranks.
But not all votes are equal. Quality counts as much as quantity.
The more “quality backlinks” your website gets, the higher it ranks in the search engines.
The purpose of this article is to help you identify good quality backlinks for your website and not just individual backlinks.
Fundamentals of a quality backlinking strategy
First, SEO is a competition.
There is no precise recipe. Many business owners ask: “How many backlinks do I need to rank #1?” That is an accountant’s mindset.
For any given search, there is only one #1 website, and there are only ten websites in the top ten rankings of each search engine.
It’s a lot like the Stanley Cup. Even if every team were to play a perfect game, there would still be only one team holding the Cup. There is no precise formula for winning Stanley Cups or for ranking number one in the search engines.
The first fundamental of a good backlinking strategy is to let go of an accountant’s mindset.
Second, backlink diversity is critical.
The second fundamental of a good backlinking strategy is to make sure your backlinks, when taken together, look natural. Backlink diversity is critical.
Backlinks are votes for your website. But what if you have to seek out those backlinks? What if you paid for them? What if you arranged them through a press release, by blog commenting, in forum posts or in a large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaign, to name but a few examples?
That’s like stuffing the ballot box. Search engines don’t like that; they can penalize your website for trying to manipulate their rankings. Google has an official list of “link schemes” that it abhors.
To emphasize this second point, here’s a quick quiz. Imagine getting the perfect backlink. And another perfect backlink. And lots and lots of perfect backlinks and lower quality backlinks. What would that do?
A. Help your website rank extraordinarily high, because all backlinks are perfect?
B. Get your website penalized or possibly banned, because it looks like you’ve stuffed the ballot box?
Yes, B is the correct answer.
Third, good backlinks also deliver prospective customers.
Too many business owners think backlinks are only part of their SEO strategy. But many businesses get a steady stream of customers through backlinks. Those same backlinks often are the best for SEO, too, because of their relevance.
An example of a stellar backlink is a positive online review (testimonial). Here’s an excerpt of my quotation from an expert roundup blog about the best way to reduce your website bounce rate:
“Good off-site reviews can sell visitors on your credibility before they even get to your website. On-site or off-site, customer reviews can significantly cut back on your bounce rate.”
Those reviews can send eager traffic to your pages, increasing inquiries and sales and reducing your bounce rate at the same time.
This third fundamental of a good backlinking strategy includes adding as many backlinks as possible that would be useful if SEO did not exist.
Attributes of a top quality backlink
The following five key elements define an excellent backlink profile:
Content: The “anchor text” matches exactly the search terms that you want to rank for your website page.
Location: The backlink is on a page where the topic matches exactly the topic on your website page.
Position: The surrounding text is on the same topic as your website link.
Authority: The Domain Authority, DA has a perfect score of 100.
Followable: Search engines can follow and index the page. By default, links are DoFollow unless they’re modified manually or changed automatically by a website setting to the Rel=NoFollow attribute which indicates to search engines, “Do not follow this link.”
Before running off on all eight cylinders in search of that perfect backlink, read the fine print.
Anchor text of a good backlink
If all of your links were to contain only “exact match” anchor text, the search engines would see you as stuffing the ballot box.
Your backlink profile needs to have a natural mix of all types of link content:
Exact match: Toronto branding consultant
Partial match: Professional branding consultant
Semantic match: Toronto brand consulting
Branded: McCabe Marketing
Generic: Click here
Images: When someone would click on an image to get to your website page
Naked URL: https://www.mccabemarketing.ca
Your ideal strategy uses a variety of backlink types. They look natural to readers and to the search engines, which means you’ll get more visitors than exclusively using “exact match.”
Location and position of a good quality backlink
It’s advantageous to have backlinks skewed toward on-topic pages and on-topic positions within a page, but you need variety, as well. If everything looks perfect, red flags will identify it as fake to the search engines.
A food blogger might naturally mention the cost of a kitchen renovation and link to information about remodeling or insurance or budgeting. If your website page were to have no quasi off-topic links, it signals to search engines it has a very narrow appeal or that the backlinks are artificially fabricated.
What is the quality criteria for an ideal backlink?
The most common quality measurement of a good backlink is the domain authority (DA). Created by Moz, they describe it as follows:
“Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and the total number of links into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.”
It’s literally impossible to achieve the 100-point score. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Wikipedia scores range from 95-96. Top Canadian websites include the CBC (DA 93), The Toronto Star (DA 92) and the federal government website (DA 91).
If you can earn a link from a website such as the CBC, the Toronto Star and other typically highly ranked which include large newspapers, TV stations, universities and colleges, good for you. These are very good backlinks.
But you also need links from lower DA websites, because it would look suspicious to the search engines’ algorithm calculators if your backlinks were above 30 and perhaps a couple less than 30. It must look natural.
Remember, you need to have some NoFollow links, as it’s unnatural to have none. If someone tells you a backlink would not be worth acquiring because it’s NoFollow, we recommend you ignore their advice.
Do you want a quality backlinking strategy for your website?
If you’re ready to build some quality backlinks, here’s a summary of best practices:
- Focus on relevant websites and relevant pages.
- Seek a variety of link content types, primarily using related terms for your desired keywords.
- Try to get some high DA websites to link to yours, but don’t obsess over DA.
- When it’s easier to get a DoFollow over a NoFollow backlink, got for it. But don’t obsess with DoFollow link as you need a balance.
While there are some genuinely bad backlinks, they are very few. For the most part, any backlink is a good backlink. Take what you can get, and work hard to get those few high DA, highly relevant backlinks that make the biggest difference.
Ready to learn more about how to build good quality backlinks? We’re here to help guide you.
Search Engine Optimization Resources:
Local SEO: Boost Your Google Ranking. Get McCabe Marketing’s Free Online Directory Listing Template
Discover Red Flags by Understanding the Ins and Outs of an SEO Contract – Part Three
The Importance of SEO in Small Business Marketing
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