What Are High-Quality Backlinks?

Written on
April 20, 2017
by
Caitlin Schubert
in
Link Building
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The first page of Google is calling the name of everyone who even lightly delves into SEO strategy.

It  can be challenging to achieve first-page results through only using  white-hat (ethical and by-the-book) SEO strategies, but Google's complex  algorithm takes more than one factor into account when building the  search results hierarchy.

When Google crawls your page,  backlinks remain an important element for the Google bots to consider.  If you're unsure about what high-quality backlinks are, why they are  significant for search results, or how to curate positive backlinks and  avoid negative ones, you've come to the right place. Buckle up.

Types of Backlinks

Follow links and no-follow links are the two main types of backlinks. Simple enough, right?

Follow  links are links that provide direct, tangible SEO link value. This  means they offer a boost on Google's PageRank, they help a page's  placement in the search engine results page (SERP), and they essentially  count as a "point" in the sport of search results competition.

On  the other hand, no-follow links are no good in any of the areas  mentioned above. But does that mean no-follow links are useless?

Absolutely not. In fact, it's quite the opposite. No-follow links still lend a helping hand when  it comes to referral traffic, which is highly valuable for driving  chunks of traffic to your site. A comment on a blog post or online forum  can end up delivering large quantities of site traffic, whether or not  it's a no-follow link. And of course, that kind of traffic will often  become a lead at worst and a conversion at best.

Keep in  mind, Google PageRank is not the only factor search engines are crawling  for. Here's a good rule of thumb: identify which links are relevant and  positive for your brand, and don't necessarily focus on what is good for SEO. Why? Good links for your brand will ideally lead to good SEO.

Building  report, pertinence, and trust amongst your following will yield  positive SEO dividends in the long run. Both follow and no-follow links  can play a role in your SEO climb to the top.

What makes a backlink high quality?

Before  we dive into the nitty-gritty details, let's establish what high  quality backlinks actually are. By definition, high quality backlinks  redirect (link) page visitors to a website through the use of keywords.

However,  "high quality" gets a bit more in-depth in SEO speak. In order to  evaluate a backlink's validity and caliber, Google takes several factors  into account before putting the HQ crown on a backlink.

  • Link patters: Unfortunately  for by-the-book SEO professionals, Google has grown accustomed to  black-hat SEO techniques, as they've been normalized in recent years.  Fortunately for those same professionals, however, Google's algorithm is  smart enough to notice and catalog natural linking patterns on your  site, rather than finding dozens of links stemming from low-quality site  domains. Natural link patterns are also indicated by keywords on your  site. If you are a custom home builder, and links are primarily coming  from real estate bloggers and photos of custom built homes, you're on  the right track. But if links are coming in from unrelated sites that  have little-to-nothing to do with custom built homes, it's cause for  concern.
  • Link authority: The relevancy of a  link and the age of a domain are the primary components that fall under  the link authority umbrella. Ensure that any backlinks you are using are  both relevant and seasoned, as this will add a layer of trust and  reliability for your page content for anyone doing a simple Google  search. Authoritative links are pertinent and have stood the test of  time. Any blog writer can toss in a few backlinks per paragraph, but  when it comes to SEO, quality almost always reigns over quantity. Making  sure your backlinks link to supreme content is essential for SEO  growth.
  • Age of domain: While this can be  categorized under link authority, the age of a domain can take a  backlink from average to high quality. Links that have been around a few  years add an element of trustworthiness that younger links cannot.  While younger links can certainly perform well in a search and can offer  valuable content, older sites with consistent ownership are  tried-and-true in the eyes of both Google and the searcher.

What's the influence of high-quality backlinks?

We've  established what defines a high-quality backlink, but why does it  matter how they are used? Why does it matter if they are used at all?

High-quality backlinks are arguably the most significant determinant of your rankings. They are also the most effective way to improve your rankings.

Content  is undoubtedly king, and in the current digital marketing climate,  unique and value-centered content is perhaps the best tool for anyone  doing SEO. If you are both putting forth solid content that drives value  for the user and you are including relevant and well-aged backlinks  throughout your content, you're on the right track.

High-quality  backlinks woven into high-quality content is an airtight recipe to  climbing the Google ladder. Backlinks matter, but high-quality backlinks can make or break your SEO efforts.

Domain authority is not to be forgotten about either. While multiple metrics from Moz factor  in to your overall score, your website's domain authority is the most  accurate indicator of how well your site will perform on the SERP when  compared to other sites.

On the other hand, page authority--another score metric developed by Moz--measures and indicates the strength of an individual web page rather than an entire domain.

Both  domain authority and page authority serve as significant measuring  sticks and status updates for your SEO efforts. This means it's in your  best interest to bolster your web pages with high-quality backlinks  integrated into high-quality content. This is the most surefire way to  increase both your domain authority and page authority scores.

Multiple links to the same root domain?

In a nutshell, linking root domains refers to the number of other sites that currently link to your web page.

Moz  engineers found that real Google rankings are much more highly  correlated to the number of existing linking root domains than the  number of links.

It's not just the number of the backlinks  used, but the value of the links--link equity--that matters. The more  connected your web page is to its integrated backlinks, the higher your  page is viewed in the eyes of Google.

Additionally, multiple  links at the same root domain will typically do you no good. Since  Google places much more value on root links than it does on external  links, you're better off to include 200 links to 200 different source  websites than to include 200 links to the same five source websites.

When  in doubt, diversify your backlink repertoire in your page content. Root  links win out over external links just about any day, so make sure to  avoid multiple links at the same root domain.

What constitutes a negative backlink?

Beware  of low-quality backlinks. These kinds of backlinks, also called  negative backlinks, are creeping across internet web pages and slowing  the strides of SEO professionals. Fortunately, they're usually not hard  to identify, and they are typically found under a few common categories.

  • Savant SEO links:  These kinds of negative backlinks set up camp on a web page for the  sole purpose of linking other websites. They are designed to link to  often useless and value-lacking websites that serve the user little  purpose.
  • Links with duplicate text: These links redirect the site visitor to content that is either nonsense or poorly combed from loosely related websites.
  • Links from spambots:  Bots can easily track comments from your website's comment forums and  even send personalized comments. These spam links are bad for your  backlink portfolio. Keep a watchful eye.

Low-quality  backlinks may always be creeping and crawling, but the utility and  effectiveness of high-quality backlinks are guaranteed to be a useful  SEO boost time and again. If your end goal includes consistently  improving your content and driving more people to your site for the  chance at more conversions, using high-quality backlinks well and often  should be your go-to approach.

Simply effective marketing.