What Makes A “High Quality” Link?

You know the benefits of links. You know you need more of them.

You may even be thinking of hiring a link builder, or looking for an agency who builds links.

But what kind of links should you be getting?

Not every link is as good as the next. And just because your competitor is ranking at the top with 50 backlinks, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll rank above them once you hit 51 links.

If that was the case, It would be a free for all and everyone would be blasting their site with as many links as they could!

A major factor which affects the weighting of a link, is this often over-used, but simple word which comes up time and time again – Quality.

What exactly makes a “high quality” link?

First, before you dive into your wallet and purchase the next subscription of Super-Duper Link Analyser Pro for $99 a month – there is no tool in the world which is going to scrape a list and tell you WHICH site is quality and which isn’t.

Sure, you can use certain tools to figure out the authority of the site, its spam score, estimate of traffic, etc.

But, the tool you need, is something you’re using right now.. The human eye.

It’s the reason why sites are being penalised left, right and centre and sites propped up by bad PBNs are tumbling down the rankings.

Googles AI is essentially becoming a human brain on supersonic speed – it can tell which sites are crap and which aren’t.

Your main concern is simply this – is the site relevant? And is the link from the site placed in a natural, contextual way?

If it meets that criteria, then you’re well onto your way on building the right type of links.

Now, I’m not saying to abandon tools completely.
I mean, I use Ahrefs and Moz quite frequently. But what I’m saying is, don’t rely solely on these and don’t disregard a potential link target, just for example, because it has a Domain Authority score of 20.

If it has good quality content, seems to be getting comments or shares, etc, there is still a likelihood there is some relevant traffic coming through from that site – and at the end of the day, you want to drive TRAFFIC to your site. It’s not purely about just ranking for rankings sake.

So that kind of gives you the basis of what a high quality link should look like.

But here are some specific things which affect the quality of a link:


Essentially, “how trusted is the site?”

You can assess this with various tools like Moz and MajesticSEO – but it boils down to the same thing. The more authority that a site has, the more likely that a link from that, will have a major effect on your own site. It’s the reason why a link from the BBC, will hold more weight than a link from a newly created blog. As you’d expect, in most cases, authoritative sites tend to have followed good SEO practice and have good quality links themselves.


Are they just citations or directory listings?

I.e. can anyone get the link by just clicking a few buttons or filling a form? While it may be good for link diversity, anything that was very easy to acquire is likely to have negligible or no effect on traffic. If it was that easy, everybody and their neighbour probably has a link from them!

Paid for?

Are you buying a large amount of links for cheap? For example, a lot of the services being sold on fiverr or other freelancer sites are selling dozens-hundreds of links, for a $100 or less. Again, these are spammy, probably automated in some way and you run the risk of actually getting your site penalised.

A lot of these paid for links could even be part of some organised linking scheme such as a blog network or a guest post farm. Again, your putting yourself at risk by associating yourself with these types of sites.

(Note: There are circumstances where paying for a link such as a sponsored post is fine. And in certain industries this is the norm to have to pay to be featured. The quality of the site still needs to be assessed though.)


Is it placed on a relevant site or is the content on the page relevant?
This is the primary factor which affects where search engine’s will place a site. You can’t expect that a link to a construction company in the UK should be placed on the site of a yoga studio in India. There is sometimes room for bridging content, where you can relate 2 industries or niches, but let’s be reasonable here!


Is it dofollow or nofollow? Dofollow is the preferred link type and (generally) its thought it has an effect on the SEO of a site. While nofollow links have no effect, but of course, will still send referral traffic. (Still a controversial matter, as some in the industry believe nofollow links do still contribute to the SEO of a site).

Anchor Text

Is it a relevant anchor text? At the same time though, there should be some diversity in the anchor texts of your links. Too many with exactly the same anchor text is unlikely to happen naturally and could put your site in danger. Better to have a variation in your anchor text. Even having a proportion which say “useful resource”, “click here to find out more” or anchored with your company name, will help diversify the link profile.


Is it within the content? Search engine’s consider these will be most likely to be an editorial link, while a link in the sidebar or footer would be considered lower quality.

Surrounding Links

How many other links are on that page? The lower amount the amount of links on the page where yours in placed – the higher the quality of your link (link juice dilution effect).
In addition, how authoritative are the other links on that page? Not to say that if the page also has linked out to a low quality site, that it will negatively affect your site. But just that it could potentially give that link less weighting.


Have they already linked to you at some point?
Preferably, you want to diversify your profile as much as possible. Having 10 links from 20 different sites, is often better than having 200 links from 3 sites.



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