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How to Identify a “Good” Backlink

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There are a number of different ways that you can potentially improve your site’s search engine ranking. But when it comes to your site’s domain rating, focusing on a link-building strategy is often the best way to go.

Obtaining backlinks from reputable referring domains can allow your own site to be viewed as more authoritative by Google. However, not all backlinks are created equal. Being able to get backlinks for free doesn’t always mean those links will help your brand to be seen as more authoritative. While some might be considered a great digital endorsement, others might be seen as downright spammy. 

Being able to tell the difference between a great backlink opportunity and a backlink that could hurt your site is essential. But how do you discern a good backlink from a bad one? We’ll discuss the key features of a good backlink in today’s post.

What Makes a Good Backlink?

At one time, any backlink was a good backlink. It didn’t matter as much where the link came from or how it as obtained; it really was about quantity over quality. 

Things have changed drastically since then, however. Google and other platforms have re-evaluated the way they calculate website authority, which means that certain kinds of backlinks — like those from “link farms” or paid links — aren’t going to help you. 

Not all is lost, however. On the contrary, there are a number of ways to obtain high-quality backlinks. But first, you need to determine whether an opportunity for a backlink will be beneficial to your business. Here are a few key traits of good backlinks to look for.

  • The site is trustworthy: When you’re looking to secure a backlink to your site, you need to ensure that the site posting that backlink is seen as reputable. If Google doesn’t trust that site, getting a backlink from that site could actually harm your rankings. You’ll want to find out the site’s domain rating (which is calculated by Afhrefs), their organic traffic, and how many sites actually link to that site before you try to obtain a backlink. This can give you a good idea of how valuable this website will be when building your backlink profile and whether you should spend time trying to acquire a link. 
  • The site is relevant to your niche: It’s not enough that a site is authoritative. It also needs to be related in some way to your industry or your target audience. If you create content specifically for this site, it needs to be pertinent to both that site and your own. And if a link is simply included somewhere on that site, it needs to be featured in content that makes sense for your business. If you’ve written a piece of content pertaining to travel and your business is within the travel industry, you’ll want to ensure the site providing you with a backlink is also in some way aligned with travel. This will ensure the backlink makes sense and that it actually provides readers with value.
  • The link is contextual and natural: Your backlink needs to make sense in relation to the website’s vertical or niche, but it also needs to be placed within the content in a way that benefits you. Links that are located within the header, footer, or sidebar of a website (or within a contributor or author bio section) won’t always provide the same amount of value as a link that’s naturally placed within the content of a page. When negotiating link-building arrangements, try to make sure that the anchor text that links back to your site is properly optimized and placed in a way that helps your rankings. 
  • The link is a “dofollow” link: There’s quite a bit of debate around “nofollow” and “dofollow” links. Your backlink profile might have a combination of these, which will make it look more natural. But “nofollow” links essentially instruct Google’s bots not to follow the link from that website to yours. SEO experts aren’t in agreement about whether “nofollow” links pass link juice from one site to another, but “dofollow” links are certainly seen as more valuable. If you’re providing a guest post to a site owner, you do need to make sure that the link they provide is a “dofollow.” There are certain situations where obtaining a “nofollow” link from a highly reputable source could still be beneficial to your site, but “dofollow” links are generally seen as being more desirable.

It’s important to remember that not every backlink will help your site to improve its ranking. If your aim is to bolster your backlink profile, you’ll want to keep these points in mind when evaluating potential link-building opportunities. That way, you’ll ensure your site is seen as more reputable and relevant in Google’s eyes.

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