Google, along with other search engines, has different factors to consider before they rank your website. A few years ago, backlinks were the ones that matter the most. But as years went by, this was no longer the case.
With one Google algorithm update after another, Google has focused on the quality of content and overall user experience when it comes to ranking websites.
But even though link building is no longer that important to Google, it remains a relevant strategy to improve your ranking. Unfortunately, a lot of web owners get bad backlinking advice online to the point where it is doing more harm than good on their ranking. Here are seven characteristics of a high-quality backlink.
First, a high-quality backlink should be relevant to your content. One reason for this is that a relevant link is most likely going to be clicked by your visitor.
For instance, if you are running an architecture website, it makes sense if you are going to get a link from a construction website or perhaps a lumber supplier. It means that someone looking for lumber to renovate or build their home is most likely going to need an architect.
But of course, search engines will be considering several factors to determine if the website is relevant to your niche or not.
Another important consideration that makes a high-quality backlink is the trustworthiness of a site. One thing about the internet nowadays is that anyone can publish their content. Unfortunately, not all is a trustworthy source, especially if you are looking for a high-quality backlink.
Scholarly articles, prominent websites such as CNN, and BBC are just some examples of a trustworthy website. What makes a website trusted by Google in the first place? Google considers .com, .gov, and .net websites as trustworthy.
Google takes a closer look at the previous contents of the website as well as its design. If the design is professional looking and mobile-friendly, then it is easier for Google to consider the website as a trusted website.
3. Directs traffic
Before you even consider improving your ranking via backlinks, remember that these links are designed primarily to provide traffic to another website. It was made to provide more information for readers. This is why it is not surprising to see backlinks that provide traffic to be considered as a high-quality backlink by Google.
This is also the reason why links seen in the middle of content are more valuable than ones found at the footer of the content. The main reason is that users rarely click on it.
Now, what are things that can generate traffic on your website? A website that has high traffic typically produces a lot of clicks as well. In addition to this, social media marketing matters. If their presence on Facebook and Twitter can generate clicks, then this can also help the quality of the backlink.
4. Authority websites
As a rule of thumb, you want to check the authority of the site that you are getting backlinks from. The good news is that there are plenty of tools that are available online that measures the authority of a website.
Moz Domain Authority is among the most popular tools used today. It calculates authority from a scale of 1 to 100. You can even take it deeper by checking the page authority using Moz Page Authority.
Apart from what DA tells you, you can also check the age of the domain. The older the domain, the more authoritative it becomes. A quick look at who.is will give you an idea when the domain was acquired.
You also want the backlinks to be unique. Having unique links is easier said than done. If you have ten backlinks pointing to your website, it is ideal to get them from ten different sites. This makes your link building strategy look organic. It doesn’t look as if you conspired with the web owner to provide you with links on their different content.
Apart from receiving links from different websites, you also have to consider the number of links found in the content. If the content contains 20+ links and your website is one of those, then expect this link to be diluted. You’d instead want to receive a link from a website that rarely links out to other websites.
Next, it’s a common practice to exchange links with other websites. It’s a common concept of you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. In reality, this does more harm than any good. Google can even see this as a link scheme that goes against their Webmaster Guidelines. It means that the links weren’t acquired via natural means that can be abused.
But does it mean that you shouldn’t be exchanging links with other websites? In reality, exchanging links falls under a grey area. To be safe, it is a good idea to exchange links to a bare minimum. In addition to this, you also want to exchange links only with websites that are relevant to your niche to make sure the link still looks organic.
Always make sure to ask yourself if the link is improving the quality of the content. This can be the easiest way to justify the need to exchange links.
7. Social Media Signals
One of the things that Google looks into nowadays is social media signals. It’s a common practice for marketers to tie their social media marketing with their SEO campaigns. Also, this is the same reason why websites will share their content on their Facebook and Twitter accounts right after publishing it on their site.
Google considers social media as an effective filter to determine the relevancy of content to an industry/niche. If a particular content goes viral, it only means that it brings valuable information for a group of people.
Google today takes a closer look at how social media users engage and share content online. The link could go a long way in the eyes of Google if the link came from a content that went viral on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms.
Link building has evolved in the last years. Though it is no longer Google’s primary consideration, it can still play a massive role in your ranking. You can be more particular about the type of link that you get from other websites using these things we mentioned. And as a rule of thumb, always ask if the link helps improve your website’s content.