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Factors Which Determine the Value of a Backlink

Wed, 21st Aug - 2019 | Posted by David Hyde

Backlinks play a significant role in determining where a site ranks. A backlink – a link from one site to another – in the eyes of search engines, is a ‘vote of confidence’. They signal that a website should be considered an authority. 

As an agency, we believe that a site’s backlink profile is crucial to improving organic search visibility. When link building, we focus on acquiring high-quality links for our clients. 

Some agencies promise their clients hundreds of new backlinks for a low cost – but quantity should not be the goal. A high number of weak links can result in penalties from search engines, which can lead to a site disappearing from search results in an instant. 

We use only ‘white hat’ link building techniques. We do not use automated outreach systems. Instead, we analyse each site – to ensure the links we acquire for our clients contribute to improving their search visibility. When analysing the quality of a site and potential backlink, we consider the following metrics – listed in priority order: 

1. Follow vs. No Follow 

A ‘nofollow’ attribute tells a search engine not to count the link or its value. This attribute must be added to low-quality links – or ads, to prevent search engine penalties. When managing a client’s backlink profile – we assess the split of ‘nofollow’ and ‘follow’ links – and if required, we change links into ‘nofollow’ links to prevent any potential impact on a site’s visibility in search. 

2. Domain authority 

Domain authority (DA) is a 1 – 100 scale which measures the quality of a site. DA is one of the most important metrics to consider when reviewing a potential backlink site. When prospecting for new links, we prioritise sites with a high DA over sites with a low DA, taking into account trust score and overall authority. 

3. Anchor Text 

Anchor text is the words which contain a link on a page.  Anchor text should be relevant to the page it is linking to. For example, a link which goes to a ‘garden hose’ page – should include the keywords ‘garden hose’. When link building, it’s not always possible to control what anchor text is used – but even so, when completing outreach, we always try to make sure the links our clients gain come from optimised anchor text. 

4. Spammy links 

Google will penalise sites which have a high number of ‘spammy’ links. A ‘spammy’ link is a link from a low-quality site – or a site which has the sole purpose of hosting a large number of links. Bought links and links gained through black hat SEO techniques can often lead to a large number of weak links, which damage a site’s backlink profile – and ultimately, it’s organic search visibility. 

5. Location of a link 

The location of a link on a page can impact its value. Links in website sidebars and footers are often seen by Google as advertising links – which lowers their value and, in some cases, can be harmful to a site.  

6. The time it takes to acquire new links

If you are using white hat SEO techniques, it will take time to build a site’s backlink profile. There is no benefit in gaining large amounts of links quickly. If you are reviewing competitor backlinks and you see they are acquiring a large number of new links quickly - this can signal that they may be using black hat techniques to build their backlink profile. 

7. Quality of content 

Google is becoming more and more sophisticated when it comes to analysing content. Machine learning and AI is making it easier for Google and other search engines to determine the quality of content. The content which is linked to, or from which the link is coming from - factors into a link’s value. 

8. Relevance 

There is no reliable tool which can be used to measure the relevance of a site – instead, common sense is required. Websites and content which link to each other are higher value if in related fields – as this is relevant for the end-user. 

9. Type of link

A link can be in text (hyperlink) or within an image. In Google’s eyes, the format of the link does not affect its value. 

10. First link vs. second link 

If there are two links on one page, the first link is the most important. The second link will still pass referral traffic, but the first link is what search engines consider when determining the value of a backlink.  

Link building and backlink profile management should be part of your SEO strategy – especially if you are trying to improve organic search visibility. If you would like to discuss how link building could increase your site’s rankings – contact us
 

David Hyde - Technical SEO Manager

Author

David Hyde | Technical SEO Manager

David is an SEO specialist with 20 years of SEO and digital marketing experience, working client-side and as part of agencies in the UK and across Europe.

To find out more about this blog post or how we can help your business's online visibility, contact Adam.

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