Almost 3 years ago I wrote an article (with the help of a number of experts) about how to value a backlink. In this post I asked 14 experts what they believe are the key factors in determining how valuable a backlink is.
Since then lots of things have changed. And as a result I wanted to build this article to show these changes. The following are my personal opinions on how to calculate how valuable or powerful a backlink is. This is based on personal testing and other 3rd party testers that I trust.
1.) Links that Link to them (Authority/Trust)
However you phrase or measure this, this is still the #1 factor you should look at when determining how valuable a link is. The sites that link to a website give it it’s power. The more high quality sites link the better. You can measure this using a number of third party tools that most of you will already be familiar with. I personally like Ahrefs but Majestic is good too. So whether you measure this using DA, DR, TF, CF or somehow find a manual way this is still the number one factor in determining strength of a link (not relevancy).
2.) Traffic (The future – In my opinion)
This is traffic to the site/page itself and also click throughs coming from the link itself. Starting with traffic to the website itself, if a website has a load of traffic it is likely a good site, well designed, good content etc. This means Google will probably rank it highly too (leading to more and more traffic.) Sites that generate more traffic are generally considered more valuable for 2 reasons. 1.) Traffic (although not a direct ranking factor) is very benefical to ranking in Google, hence over time this site you are receiving a link from is likely to increase in quality and hence generate more links, making your link stronger over time. 2.) Traffic coming through to your site. Sites with a lot of traffic will generate traffic to your site through the link in question. This is not only great from a conversions point of view but there have also been tests showing when a link generates traffic (clicks) it is deemed more powerful by Google. Although how much more powerful is still in debate. All in all, go for sites that generate a lot of traffic.
Is the site about a similar niche or topic to your target site? This is pretty obvious nowadays and I think everyone knows they need more relevant links. The reason this is only #3 on the list now instead of in the top 2 is that Google knows that site’s that have just been created and are relevant to the topic of the target site can be easily manipulated. For example setting up your own sites and linking from these websites, this is a strategy called PBNs and still works incredibly well but Google is looking to crack down on these techniques. One of the methods they are trying is weighing authority and traffic over direct relevancy. But if the other 2 elements are in place then this is the best next thing.
Probably not really.
Any other phrasing comes into one of these 3 categories: popularity = traffic, real sites = authority + traffic, respected brand = authority, social = authority/traffic.
Let me know what you think.