Backlinks are an absolutely crucial part of any digital marketing and SEO strategy. It is virtually impossible to rank highly on search engines, without high quality backlinks that perform well consistently. Backlinks can drive traffic to your website, or product; and they can skyrocket the amount of people who see your link when they google keywords associated with your link. It’s safe to say, backlinks are among the most important factors to consider when trying to grow an online business.
However, backlinks are not something that can simply be made, and forgotten about. Backlinks require maintenance, and work to ensure that they continue to perform as expected. That is why it is also important to make sure you are checking up on the quality of your backlinks throughout their lifespan. Let’s take a moment to talk about backlinks, how to assess their quality, and how to check backlink quality moving forward.
First, let’s go over a brief refresher on DoFollow and NoFollow backlinks.
There are two primate categories that backlinks will fall into. These are ‘DoFollow’ and ‘NoFollow’. Each one has its purpose, but will ultimately perform slightly differently as a result. Backlinks work by providing something known as ‘link juice’ to the final destination link that is embedded into the backlink. This helps to provide weight to the link, and will cause it to rise in SearchRankings.
There are a number of factors that go into how this all works, but just know that a backlink that is frequently clicked will provide some level of authority to the link destination, that helps search engines to rank it higher on their listings. In essence, a single click on a backlink generally casts a ‘vote’ of confidence for search engines to consider. It is important to note that if the link comes from a more reputable or authoritative source, the ‘link juice’ is stronger. In essence, a backlink on The New York Times is worth more than a backlink on your local news website.
However, this only works with DoFollow backlinks. Only DoFollow backlinks provide any sort of points for search engines to weigh. NoFollow backlinks are backlinks that do not provide any sort of ranking at all. They operate functionally the same, but they will not indicate for search engines to ‘rank’ their performance. In essence, a NoFollow backlink won't help raise your SearchRanking. So, why use NoFollow backlinks at all?
Well, everything has a time and a place. NoFollow backlinks were designed to prevent web pages from spamming their links in places they don’t belong, in order to skyrocket their SearchRanking. This was a rather unsavory practice that even resulted in ‘black-hats’ placing links in Wikipedia pages that were totally unrelated. To combat this, NoFollow links were created as a sort of automated way for backlinks to be removed from rankings, and to discourage ‘black-hat’ operations trying to syrocked SearchRankings artificially.
So, in essence, DoFollow backlinks are the type that help drive your rankings, NoFollow backlinks are typically used as a way for moderators or web pages to discourage gaming the system.
NoFollow backlinks are not entirely useless to someone who is trying to raise their SearchRankings and Domain Authority. In fact, even though all backlinks on Wikipedia are by default NoFollow--They still count for more than DoFollow backlinks being hosted by unreliable websites. This is simply because of the sheer weight that a website like Wikipedia carries.
NoFollow backlinks can be a great way to increase awareness of your product or website, without risking damaging your SearchRankings in any way. This is because NoFollow backlinks are not tracked, and are generally considered to be completely honest. A linked site from a NoFollow link seemingly has nothing to gain, it’s like performing a good deed for no compensation. In this manner, it is good to have a healthy amount of NoFollow backlinks to balance your DoFollow.
Too many DoFollow backlinks can dilute your overall ‘link juice’ being received, and can make your link appear as spam. However, by contrast, too many NoFollow backlinks cannot have a negative impact on your link at all. So, always consider trying to have 43-45% NoFollow links, and 55-57% DoFollow. This will help keep your link from appearing as spam, and will drive trust and awareness to your product simultaneously.
Now, let’s get on to the real topic at hand--how to check backlink quality.
As with everything in life, quality is often considered more valuable than quantity. In the case of DoFollow backlinks, the actual quality of the backink itself is another factor that is taken into consideration by search engines when ranking and weighing the link itself. Back in the old days of backlinks, simply having a massive volume of backlinks was enough to drive your rankings through the roof. You could appear on the front page of Google by simply spreading your backlinks to the far reaches of the World Wide Web. However, that has changed
over time. Now, a high quality backlink is typically weighed more favorably than a backlink that has a high volume of outlets.
The history of SEO and SearchRankings has been flooded with unsavory schemes and scams that have always tried to take advantage of the system. This has led to the algorithms that back search engines becoming more strict in what they consider a valuable, reliable, and authoritative link. Afterall, it wouldn’t look good for Google if someone searched ‘The best food in Charleston’, and the top result was a link to a clothing company. Some scams that have riddled the age of backlinks include:
The list goes on and on. That is where this whole ‘quality’ thing comes into play. To penalize sites which use what Google considers to be a ‘link scam’, they introduced what is known as the ‘Penguin Update.’ The Penguin update actively penalizes links that are not considered to be a good quality. This update absolutely shattered the previous mechanisms that marketing companies used to plan their backlink strategies that once relied on volume over quality.
There are 5 major criteria that a backlink will be run through in order to determine the quality of the link. These are:
Now, it is important to note that this is in no particular order. The algorithm Google uses is incredibly complex, and it is nearly impossible to really hone in on which criteria is more important than others. However, as long as you are making sure that each one on an individual basis is up to code, you can have a relative degree of certainty that the backink itself will be considered a good quality link.
It is important to make sure that each individual component of the backlink performs in a relevant, and reliable manner. This means a few things:
It’s important to remember that these are simply general good practice methods for producing a good backlink. In truth, there really is no 100% sure fire way to produce and determine what even makes a ‘good quality’ backlink. For example, a good quality backlink doesn’t always have to be a backlink that is linked on a website like Business Insider, or The New York Times. If that were the case, there would be a paltry amount of good backlinks that even exist at all. So, it stands to reason that there is more than just having your backlink come from a high authority website. Don’t concern yourself too much on this as a general rule.
A good backlink, in general, should simply be hosted on a web page that is relevant to your link. For example, if you have a website which sells pet supplies, you wouldn’t want it to be
linked by a real estate agent’s blog--the two subjects are not related at all. In this case, you would want your backlink to be hosted by a web page that is discussing, reviewing, or analyzing pet or pet related products. This establishes relevance, and helps to create a general trust of your web page and its contents. Relevance is one key factor of SearchRanking that is very unlikely to change, no matter what new updates occur to the algorithm. Relevance is always going to be the driving force that Google uses to rate your link--remember that.
Checking on the actual quality of your own links can be a tricky task, indeed. There are some tools that can help you with the process (we will get to this later), but in general you can do your own self assessment if you know what to look for. As mentioned earlier, the quality of the linking website is going to be a huge factor in whether your link is good or bad. If you originally set out on your digital marketing adventure, and simply focused on getting your links out there and spread as far as you could; well then chances are that you likely have a few bad links floating around.
Imagine that you are in a conversation with two co-workers, one of which is known for being a great worker who is always reliable, and the other has a tendency to sleep on the clock and come in late constantly with exaggerated excuses. Which of these two co-workers would you personally trust more, in areas of import? It’s likely to be the former for all of us. In this regard, Google takes the same sort of consideration with your own backlinks.
If you have a backlink that is being linked by a website that is known for misrepresentation of facts, spam, or otherwise unreliable; this can negatively impact your link and its quality. This can also occur when your link itself is misplaced or misrepresented by the linking website. For example, if the text containing your link does not flow properly, or comes off as ‘forced’ into the context, this can create a feeling of spam which Google will pick up on.
Another factor for you to consider is the length of the content that is linking your page.
Engagement rate is a factor that is factored in by Google when weighing the reputation of a
website. If users are spending time on a web page, this means that they are engaging with that
web page. Web pages that have more activity and engagement from users are regarded as
being more reliable. Are your links being posted on web pages with very little content, and do
not encourage engagement from users? This could be an indicator that you have a bad link. If
users are on the linking page for only 1-2 minutes, it does not bode well for the linking
page--which doesn’t bode well for you. A 300 word article will not pass on as much ‘link juice’ as
a 1,500-2,000 word article would, in essence.
You will know if your links are bad if they are doing one of two things:
By breaking Google guidelines, you are going to incur penalties that could actively suppress traffic to your site. This includes paying for links, link wheels, engaging in link farming, etc,. If you try to earn your backlinks through ‘black-hat’ channels, you are going to get penalized and you will not have a good time. Backlinks should always drive organic traffic, and be done in a totally natural and smooth manner.
In addition, if you are not trying to actively get your links on reputable, relevant, and reliable web pages; you are doing yourself a disservice. You should always check the Domain Authority of your linking web pages in order to determine how well respected the domain is. Anything less than a 30% score can lead to your link being considered bad.
Both of these scenarios can determine if your link is bad equally. As a general rule you should simply ask yourself if your link is meeting all of the criteria we have discussed to be considered a quality link, and avoiding the criteria for a bad one. It sounds simple, but it will require quite a bit of work and practice to get just right.
Now that we have taken the time to fully lay out exactly what goes into the process of determining a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ quality link; let’s discuss how you can check for yourself in a fast and pain free manner.
As mentioned earlier, it is possible to manually determine the quality of your own link yourself. You can determine if the linking domain is up-to-code, you can determine if you are balancing your DoFollow links with your NoFollow links; you can do all of this, and still miss the mark--it’s sad but true. That is why our tool was designed to help you determine if your link really is a good link.
We have worked hard to develop a tool that weights the Domain Authority of your linking web page; the relevance of the anchor text; the location of the backlink within the web page; the IP address of the linking page; and all of the other criteria that search engines such as Google will be looking at. Our tool then goes on to determine if your linking page has been penalized by Google, or is underperforming in any areas where it could pose alarm. Through this, we can help accurately analyze, and assess the status of your link. This gives you a clear cut answer--is your link good, or bad?
Our tool is designed with you in mind, and we aim to make it as user friendly as possible.
Here’s how it works:
That’s it, it's that simple. Within seconds you will get a detailed and easy to grasp assessment on the status of your backlink. From that assessment, you can then go about fixing, or improving your backlink strength moving forward.
The quality of your backlinks will go a long way towards driving steady and organic traffic to your web page. It is crucial that you are fully aware of how good or bad your backlinks are, in order to accurately improve and execute your digital marketing strategy. Remember, a bad backlink can do more to harm your business than you might think. Far too often, newcomers to the digital marketing game will simply release their backlinks on to linking pages, and hope for the best. This is always going to end up poorly.
Remember to constantly check on the quality of your backlinks using our tool, and keep in mind the quality of your backlinks moving forward. Soon enough, with enough practice, you will be building and managing good quality backlinks for your business in no time.