Link building is a powerful tool that digital marketers and website owners use to increase website traffic and boost their SERP rank for targeted pages. However, simply building links is not enough to achieve online success. Quality and relevance are extremely important, or your efforts may be for naught. That’s where link quality evaluation and measurement comes in.
In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to evaluate link quality, and the importance of doing so. Moreover, we will explore the dangers of toxic links, how to identify and avoid them, and how to get rid of them from your backlink profile.
By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how to measure link quality and improve your link building strategy. You will be equipped with the knowledge to assess your link profile, identify and remove low-quality links, and build natural and relevant links that will boost your search engine rankings.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What Is Link Quality and Link Quality Evaluation?
Link quality is an essential factor in SEO and backlinks. In the context of SEO, link quality refers to the value that a backlink provides to a website. A backlink is a link from one website to another, and it’s considered a vote of confidence from the linking site to the linked site.
Determining the quality of a link involves evaluating it based on various factors, such as:
- Relevance: The linking page should be relevant to your website’s content. For example, if you run a pet store, a link from a pet blog would be more relevant than a link from a fashion blog. Ideally, you also want the anchor text to be relevant to your page. Let’s continue with the example above. Let’s say that the pet blog is linking to a healthy raw food product on your site. “Healthy raw pet food” will certainly be more relevant as anchor text than “feed your dogs.” While the second isn’t entirely irrelevant, the first is a better match to the content and context of your page.
- Authority: The linking page should have a high authority in your niche. This can be determined by looking at the Domain Authority (DA), Domain Rank (DR), and Page Authority (PA) scores of the linking page. The higher these scores, the higher the authority of the linking page. We’ll explain these in more detail below.
- Trustworthiness: The linking page should be trustworthy and not associated with spammy or black hat SEO tactics. You can determine the trustworthiness of a linking page by looking at its spam score, which is a metric that measures the likelihood of a website being penalized by search engines for spammy behavior.
High-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites are considered valuable for SEO, as they can help to increase the visibility and authority of a website on search engine results pages (SERPs).
On the other hand, low-quality or spammy backlinks from irrelevant or low-quality websites can harm a website’s SEO by leading to penalties from search engines or even getting the website banned from search results altogether.
Understanding Domain Authority vs. Domain Rank vs. Page Authority Scores
In your quest to build a robust, quality backlink profile, you may have encountered the terms Domain Authority, Domain Rank, and Page Authority. They are all metrics used to evaluate the quality and authority of a website, but they have different methodologies and applications when it comes to backlinks and evaluating the quality of your backlink profile.
Domain Authority (DA) was developed by Moz, a company that provides SEO software and tools to help site owners and business. DA scores range from 1 to 100, with a higher score indicating that the site may rank higher on SERPS. It’s calculated by evaluating several factors, including the number and quality of backlinks pointing to the website, the website’s age and history, and its content relevance.
Domain Rank (DR), on the other hand, was developed by Ahrefs, another online provider of SEO-related tools. DA specifically measures the backlink profile’s strength and quality of a website on a scale of 0 to 100. DR also considers the number and quality of backlinks pointing to the website, but it places more emphasis on the quality of the backlinks, as opposed to just the quantity.
Page Authority (PA) is another metric that Moz developed. This particular metric focuses on a page rather than the overall domain and indicates how well a specific page on a website is likely to rank on SERPs. The higher the PA score, the more likely the page is to rank higher on SERPs. PA is based on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher scores being more difficult to achieve.
When evaluating the quality of a website’s backlink profile, it’s important to consider all of these metrics, as they can each provide valuable insights into the strength and authority of a website. However, it’s worth noting that these metrics are not absolute and should be used as a guide rather than the sole determining factor for the quality of a backlink.
A good DA, DR, and PA score varies depending on the industry and niche. Generally speaking, a score of 50 or above is considered good, and a score of 60 or above is considered excellent. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these scores are relative, and what may be considered a good score in one industry may not be in another.
Backlinks and Google Search Essentials (Formerly Webmaster Guidelines)
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines state that links should be natural, relevant, and earned. In other words, links should not be manipulated or artificially created. Google actively penalizes websites that engage in link schemes or other forms of manipulative link building. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to building links.
Aim to earn links from reputable websites in your industry or niche that are relevant to your content. This approach will help you build a natural and diverse link profile that improves your website’s search engine rankings.
Tools You Can Use To Measure Your Link Quality And Backlink Profile
There are several tools you can use to measure your link quality and backlink profile, including:
These tools provide a range of metrics, including LQI, DA, PA, and spam score. By using these tools, you can identify toxic links, spammy links, and low-quality links that can negatively impact your search engine rankings. Additionally, these tools can help you build a diverse and natural link profile that improves your website’s visibility on SERPs.
The tools we mentioned below are beneficial in evaluating your link quality and backlink profile. However, it’s important to note that no single tool can provide a complete analysis of your link quality. It’s recommended to use a combination of these tools to get a comprehensive evaluation of your backlink profile.
Let’s take a closer look at each one:
Ahrefs is a popular tool used to evaluate link quality and backlink profiles. It offers both free and paid versions, although the free version is, naturally, much more limited than a paid plan.
With Ahrefs, you can get detailed insights into your link profile, including the number of referring domains, backlinks, and their quality score. It also allows you to check your competitors’ backlinks and evaluate their link-building strategies. One of its major benefits is the ability to identify toxic links and disavow them using its built-in disavow tool.
SEMrush is another tool that can help you evaluate the quality of your backlinks. It provides a detailed analysis of your website’s link profile, including the number of backlinks, referring domains, and their quality score.
With its Site Audit feature, you can identify any technical issues that may be affecting your link quality. SEMrush also allows you to track your backlink profile over time and monitor the impact of your link-building efforts.
Moz is a comprehensive SEO tool that offers a range of features to help you evaluate your link quality. Its Link Explorer feature provides detailed insights into your backlink profile, including the number of links, referring domains, and spam score. It allows you to evaluate the quality of individual pages that are linking to your website. Moz also offers a Domain Authority (DA) score, which is a metric that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Free Tools You Can Use To Evaluate Links
Unfortunately, not all site owners can afford to use these paid tools. There are free alternatives that you can use to emulate some of their capabilities. However, there are no free tools that can replicate the entire suite of features that come with using Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush.
There are some excellent tools that can help you get some idea of your backlink profile and toxicity score. Some have premium plans available, but you should be able to use the free versions to get valuable insights regarding your backlinks.
- Small SEO Tools’ Backlink Suite
- Ahrefs Free Backlink Checker
- Open Link Profiler
- Google Search Console
Small SEO Tools also has a wide range of other SEO-related tools, all available for free. Although there are some limitations, it’s an excellent place to start.
A low-quality backlink is a link from a website or webpage that has low credibility, authority, or relevance. These types of links can harm your search engine rankings and hurt your website’s reputation. They can also lead to penalties from search engines, such as Google, which can be difficult to recover from.
Why Should You Avoid Low-Quality Backlinks?
There are several reasons why you should avoid low-quality backlinks:
- They can harm your search engine rankings: Search engines like Google use backlinks as a ranking factor. Low-quality backlinks can harm your rankings by signaling to search engines that your website is not trustworthy or relevant.
- They can hurt your website’s reputation: Backlinks are a signal of trust and authority. If you have a lot of low-quality backlinks, it can signal to users that your website is not trustworthy or authoritative.
- They can lead to search engine penalties: If you have a lot of low-quality backlinks, it can lead to penalties from search engines. These penalties can be difficult to recover from and can result in a significant drop in traffic and revenue.
It’s important to monitor your backlink profile regularly to identify and remove any low-quality backlinks that may be harming your website. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to identify and remove toxic backlinks.
Toxic links are links that are harmful to your website’s search engine rankings and can potentially lead to penalties from search engines. These types of links are often low-quality or spammy, and can be a result of link schemes or black hat SEO techniques.
Factors that make links toxic include:
- Low-quality websites: Links from low-quality websites with little or no content, or with a high number of outbound links, are often toxic. These types of websites are commonly used by link farms.
- Unnatural link profiles: Such profiles may have an excessive number of links from low-quality or irrelevant sites, and may have an unbalanced distribution of anchor text.
- Manipulative link building techniques: This involves artificially manipulating the number or quality of backlinks in order to improve search engine rankings, including tactics such as buying links, participating in link schemes or link farms, using link exchanges, and creating spammy content designed to generate backlinks. These techniques violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can result in penalties that harm a website’s search engine rankings and visibility.
- Spammy anchor text: Links with spammy anchor text that use keywords unnaturally or excessively can be toxic.An example of spammy anchor text is when a website excessively uses exact match keywords as the anchor text for their backlinks, regardless of whether it’s relevant or adds value to the content. For instance, if a website uses “buy cheap shoes” as the anchor text for all their backlinks, even if the content is not about shoes or the link does not add value to the reader, it can be considered spammy.
- Paid links: Links that are paid for or exchanged for other services can be toxic if they are not disclosed properly.
How Toxic Links Affect Your SEO
Toxic links can signal to search engines that your website is using manipulative or spammy tactics to gain backlinks, which can lead to penalties or even a complete removal from search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you suspect that your website has toxic backlinks, it’s important to identify and remove them as soon as possible. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to identify and remove toxic backlinks.
How To Identify Toxic Links
Identifying toxic links is crucial to maintaining a healthy backlink profile. Toxic links are links from sites that have been penalized by search engines, contain malware or viruses, or engage in shady practices like link buying or keyword stuffing.
Here are some ways to identify toxic links:
- Look for links from low-quality sites: Sites with poor design, low traffic, and thin content are more likely to be penalized by search engines, making links from these sites toxic.
- Check for irrelevant links: If the content on the linking page is unrelated to your site, it may be a sign of a toxic link.
- Check for broken links: Links to pages that no longer exist or return a 404 error can be a sign of a site that is no longer maintained, making it more likely to be penalized by search engines.
- Check for over-optimized anchor text: Links with exact-match anchor text or too many links with the same anchor text can be a sign of a site that is manipulating search engine rankings.
How To Get Rid Of Toxic Links
Getting rid of toxic links is important to maintain a healthy backlink profile and avoid penalties from search engines.
Here are some ways to get rid of toxic links:
- Contact the site owner: If you have a toxic link from a site, reach out to the site owner and request that they remove the link. Be polite and professional, and provide a reason for the request.
- Disavow the link: If you can’t get the link removed, you can disavow it using Google’s Disavow Tool. This tells Google to ignore the link when calculating your site’s search engine rankings.
- Use the Google Search Console: The Google Search Console can help you identify and remove toxic links. Use the “Links to Your Site” feature to find the links, and then use the “Disavow Links” tool to remove them.
The Importance of Natural Links and How to Acquire Them
Natural links are links that are given voluntarily by other websites because they believe your content is valuable and relevant to their audience. These links are an essential component of a healthy and diverse backlink profile. In contrast, unnatural links are those that are created for the sole purpose of manipulating search engine rankings.
To acquire natural links, you need to create high-quality, relevant content that people want to share and link to. You can also build relationships with other websites in your niche and collaborate on content or link exchanges. Another effective strategy is to leverage social media and email marketing to promote your content and attract natural links.
How to Monitor Your Backlink Profile Over Time
Monitoring your backlink profile over time is essential to ensure that you maintain a healthy and diverse link profile. By regularly monitoring your backlinks, you can identify and remove toxic links, disavow spammy links, and continue building high-quality, natural links.
There are several tools you can use to monitor your backlink profile, including Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz. By using these tools, you can track changes in your backlink profile, identify new opportunities for link building, and ensure that your link building efforts are aligned with your SEO strategy.
Measuring link quality is essential to ensure that your website builds authority, improves SEO, and avoids penalties from Google. By evaluating your backlink profile and identifying low-quality and toxic links, you can improve your search engine rankings and avoid potential issues. Remember to focus on building natural links from high-quality sites, and regularly evaluate and maintain your backlink profile.