Each new algorithm update can bring massive changes and derail entire strategies. Though, with each update, one thing never changes. Creating high quality backlinks drives incredible results. While backlinks are a key driver of results, it’s essential to recognize that not all links are created equal. But, what is the difference between normal and high quality backlinks? To help you make sure you’re getting the best possible results we’ve put together this quick guide to help you learn everything you need to know about building quality backlinks.

What is Backlink Quality?

Before we can dive too deeply into backlink quality, it’s important to have a base understanding of what a backlink is. In the simplest terms, backlinks are links to your site from other sites. For example, if you have a really great article about how to make banana bread, you can contact other sites that post about baking and ask them to include a link to your article whenever they mention the keyword “banana bread.”

A quality backlink can help your SEO strategy tremendously. They offer more value to you and your users and help your site grow organically. With quality backlinks, you know what you’re getting and don’t need to worry that you might be connecting to a spam site that offers users next to nothing when it comes to experience and relevance. This means when you focus on the quality of your backlinks you’re site is more likely to have steady growth, be preferred by Google, and see an overall greater return than if you were to use low quality spam sites.

The Pillars of High Quality Backlinks

Backlinks themselves are pretty simple, however, as we begin discussing quality, and what it looks like, it becomes a bit more complicated. For quality backlinks, there are 3 main pillars to consider. They are reputability, relevance, and naturalness. Together, these three pillars are what separate quality backlinks from spam.

Reputability

The first pillar to consider when creating quality backlinks is reputation. When determining where the link to your page should be placed, the reputability of the site you are linking from can directly affect the performance of your page. Backlinks are essentially a vote of confidence from another site that your content can be trusted and provides value to their user base. Google and other search engines can recognize this and push your content higher up the search results. If the reputation of a site is so important, what determines how “reputable” a site is in the eyes of the algorithm? There are a few things to keep in mind when determining which sites to use for your backlinks.

The first is the traffic of the site. A recent SEMrush study found that direct traffic is the most important factor when Google is determining the overall quality of a site. When many people are visiting a site directly, by typing the URL or using a bookmarked link, Google understands that website provides value and is an authority for those users. Direct visitors aren’t all that matters though. Indirect traffic, or traffic through organic searches, can also help increase the overall ranking of a site. When you’re looking for a site to place a backlink, keep an eye out for high traffic sites that act as an authority for their users.

The second thing that can affect reputation is the site’s domain authority. Domain authority is a ranking system developed by Moz as a way to predict how likely it is for a site to show up in the search results on a scale from 1 to 100. It’s important to know domain authority is NOT taken into consideration by Google when ranking sites in the results. It is simply used to predict how likely it is for the site to be ranked. So then, what does domain authority have to do with your quality backlinks? If a backlink is created on a site that has a high domain authority, or high likelihood of being included in search results then that site’s domain authority can influence the domain authority of your own site and increase the likelihood of showing in search results. It’s sort of like a transitive property. Google notes “For example, one of several factors we use to help determine this is understanding if other prominent websites link or refer to the content. This has often proven to be a good sign that the information is well trusted.”

Relevance

After discovering a site that is willing to post your backlink and has a high domain authority and high traffic, you need to find a piece of content to put your link in. The relevance of the page you are linking from is important to the overall quality of the backlink. It creates a better user experience and pushes your site as an authority on that topic. If your article about banana bread is linked on a site about building fences, chances are people will ignore your link altogether. There are two factors to consider when looking for a place to build a backlink. They are domain relevance and page relevance.

First, is domain relevance. It’s important the site you are linking from is within the same niche as your own site/content. Sure, a backlink can be built on any site, but that doesn’t mean it will be a quality backlink. When your banana bread blog post is linked on another site about cooking, it provides more authority to your site and is more likely to be interacted with when it is relevant to users on that site.

Second, is page relevance. It’s one thing to have a site within your niche, but that doesn’t mean any two pieces of content can be linked together. A link to an article on banana bread wouldn’t fit in an article about baking beans, or kitchen maintenance. It might fit in well with seasonal recipe ideas, or an article about someone’s favorite baked goods. Ensuring the content users are seeing your link on is relevant is key to keeping them interested in learning more from you.

Naturalness

After finding the perfect site, and perfect content, we can finally build our backlink. When including the backlink in the content it’s essential to make it appear naturally in the content. The link shouldn’t remove readers from the page by being placed poorly and interrupting the flow of the article. How natural a link looks is easier to show than explain, so here’s an example:

“Creating links can be difficult if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. In fact, link building can even be considered a kind of art by those who can do it well…”

Here, we can see the link fits naturally with whatever the content around it might be. Generally, the best way to sneak in your link is to determine your keyword, find where it naturally occurs in the content, and add the link there.

Other Qualities to Consider

Understanding the three core pillars of quality backlinks is a good place to start for building your links, however, there are a few more things to think about to take your links to the next level.

Type of Link

There are two types of links to be aware of. They are DoFollow links and NoFollow links. The main difference between these types of links is their impact on SEO. DoFollow links will pass some authority to the linked site and allow it to benefit from the other sites’ SEO efforts and data. NoFollow on the other hand prevents these benefits from being shared. NoFollow was created so content or sites with comment sections could fight against bots spamming links in the comments. Before NoFollow any link on any site gained some benefits, but now, with NoFollow, only verified links gain SEO benefits. Ensure all quality backlinks are DoFollow so you can reap the benefits on your own site.

In-Content Link

Many sites include footer links or links in the bio, however, for quality backlinks, we want to be featured naturally in the content. Many people may not read a bio on a blog page, or scroll down far enough to see footer links This means links placed there may not see as much activity as links placed in the content properly.

Variety

When building quality backlinks it’s essential to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Having a variety of backlinks will help your site more than having many links on the same site. As Google crawls sites and notices your links in more places it’s possible for it to notice patterns and misconstrue those as spam. If you have 13 backlinks but they’re all on the same site, Google can recognize that and potentially cause harm to the SEO of your site. Instead having 13 links between as many sites as possible avoids the spam notification and makes your links seem more random and natural.

Indexability

This goes hand-in-hand with the reputability of the site you are linking from. The site your link exists on must also exist and have the proper coding to allow Google and other search engines to crawl it. If the site can’t be crawled by Google then as far as the algorithm is concerned that backlink doesn’t exist. Make sure the hard work you’ve put into creating quality backlinks pays off.

Creating high quality backlinks doesn’t happen by accident. There is a lot of effort that goes into ensuring your content is highlighted properly and will receive the results you’re looking for. If you’re looking for help building quality links, BASE can help. We can handle the link-building process every step of the way from outreach, content creation, and pushing the link live, BASE can handle it all. Contact us for more information on how BASE can build quality links for you!