How To Value a Backlink – 14 Top SEO Experts Reveal the most Effective Metrics

AKA – “Backlink Worth”

A mouthful of a title but it’s an important issue.

Calculating how “valuable” or how much a backlink is worth, is something that’s not really talked about much in the SEO world and I am not really sure why….

Warning: also if you don’t like memes this probably isn’t the blog for you….

Value of a link

In my opinion if you know how much a backlink is worth, you can analyse whether it is worth the price/time/effort for you to go after it.

As SEOs we love some good analysis…….

If I spend $50 on a PR3 domain which is relevant in my niche with a strong backlink profile, I would consider that good value.

Whereas another individual may say “depends what niche” “depends how much traffic” depends….depends…depends….depends….

So this is why I decided it’s not worth me simply displaying my opinions as everyone’s opinions are different and a link I believe is worth (£XX/X number of hours) someone else say its not worth it at all…..

So I decided to take to the virtual world and contact as many SEO professionals as I could.

If you have been following my 30 day challenge, you know I spend a lot of time on SEO blogs, and have 5/6 favourites.

I reached out to a number of SEOs and got some responses from, in my opinion some of the best in the world! Which is AWESOME!!

Your awesome

Why this topic

If you Google “Valuing a backlink” or any related phrase you get very few good results.

There is a solid article by Mark from SEOmark (who was kind enough to contribute to this article.) Followed by Wikipedia and a bunch of forum questions. Which doesn’t really display the importance of this topic in my opinion. Hence….The article.


 So It Begins Image

To keep this article fair and unbiased I decided I would ask the questions in the same way, so they could not be interpreted differently by people. This is the script I used:

1.) What is your top 3 (and rank them to) primary factors for valuing a potential link (PR, DA, traffic, moztrust etc) 

2.) Does the amount of traffic (greatly) opinion your value of the link? Does it matter in your book?

3.) All other factors the same, how much would you pay for a (PR2/3/4/5/6/7 or DA 20/30/40/50/60/70/80 or whatever your primary valuing factors are) link to your website, from a relevant niche (what monetary value would you put on a particular link?)

The full (introduction) post is at: if you are interested, my aim is to gather the opinions of the top SEO experts in the industry and compile all of the information in one place. 

If you’re not interested, no worries, thanks for reading anyway. 


So here is what they had to say:

Steve Morgan – SEOno

Steve MorganOne of the nicest guys  I have had the pleasure of speaking to in our industry. Know him on a semi-personal basis now, and when I move back to Cardiff, I can see some very solid chill SEO sessions going down, as this guy’s music taste is almost as good as his seo…….. Almost. He says:

1.) What is your top 3 (and rank them to) primary factors for valuing a potential link (PR, DA, traffic, moztrust etc)

Domain Authority, traffic levels and social media following (and whether or not they tweet much, etc.) – probably in that order. Very rough traffic data can be obtained using Alexa, or you might be lucky and they may include a media pack for advertisers (assuming they haven’t inflated the visit numbers, although many do)…
2.) Does the amount of traffic (greatly) opinion your value of the link? Does it matter in your book?

It certainly helps, especially when justifying it as an expense. A client recently asked me: “what’s the point on being on this industry-relevant directory if no one ever uses it?” He had a point. In addition to the SEO value, it’d be great if he obtained leads via people who actually used the site to browse suppliers, such as his business. There are also those who speculate and suggest that Google now takes into account click-throughs of a link in whether its PR/DA is ‘counted’ or not, so a busier site = more potential click-throughs.
3.) All other factors the same, how much would you pay for a (PR2/3/4/5/6/7 or DA 20/30/40/50/60/70/80 or whatever your primary valuing factors are) link to your website, from a relevant niche

It’s very tough to say a PRx or DAy link is worth £z because there are so many other factors in play… Is it dofollow or nofollow? Where will the link be placed on the page? Will it be on one page or site-wide? How relevant is it? Does the site make it really obvious that they’re selling links (which means that they may eventually get in trouble with Google)? Does the advertising site already have a potential penalty? How much traffic does it get (see above)? How popular are they on social media? And so on.

While it’s difficult to sometimes justify the value of a link, it can often be easy to compare two opportunities. For example, I once saw a site saying a link cost £1,000 per month, and another one was £10 one-off plus it had higher DA – the latter’s most likely a no-brainer, while the former’s most likely a no-go. It also depends on how much of a budget the client has. I worked with one client who had a decent online advertising budget, so they were more willing to sign up to sites that other clients perhaps wouldn’t have bothered with.

Mike Friedman – SEO Pub

Mike FriedmanBeen a big fan of Mike’s work and know him on a personal basis. Very busy setting up his new SEO product at the moment but has worked with some huge SEO clients over the years and is a very solid guy. This is what he had to contribute:

“I’m going to pass on this. Every situation is different. I don’t have a set playbook on putting a monetary value on links. The value of a life insurance link is much greater than the value of a link for a dog trainer to me.”

“I don’t have a top 3. Every situation is different. It’s a combination of factors. I can tell you that I never look at PR or TF though when deciding if I want a link on a page or not.”

Rand Fishkin – Moz (obviously)

Rand FishkinIf you don’t know Rand, he’s the wizard of Mo and an individual with some solid SEO…..Almost as good as his facial hair….Not quite though. Moz is one of the biggest (if not the biggest now) SEO companies in the world. 7 figure clients, a very solid blog and the fact I even received a reply from such a giant in the SEO world was pretty cool.

“1. My big three are:

  • Does the link come from an editorial source that independently endorses your site/page without commercial incentive or payment of any kind?
  • Is the website trustworthy? Do they publish and link to other good stuff?
  • Can the link send relevant traffic that is likely to engage with your site/content?

I care much less about individual metrics, though they can be useful for sorting and for getting a rough sense of some of the above.

  1. I like sites and pages that link and can send real traffic for lots of reasons, but I don’t think the engines’ algorithms care much (if at all).
  1. I wouldn’t pay directly for a link – that’s a recipe for future penalization/banning, and I’d rather earn links editorially. That money can go to lots of great things that do earn links (and almost always from far more valuable sources than what you’d get if you paid).”

Mark Walters – SEOMARK.CO.UK

Mark WaltersAnother British SEO, who I am a big fan of. Don’t know personally (yet), but if you’re ever in Cardiff or the South, drop me a line! Who also has a great article in a similar topic at

He had the following to say:

1) My top three from there would be from a relevant source, from a trusted source and sends traffic. You can’t really rely on PR, as it’s rarely updated these days. I use Ahrefs more than Moz, and I normally rule out anything with a Ahrefs Domain Rank of less than 40. That’s probably about equivalent to a DA of 20 in Moz.

2) I only want links on real sites, and any real sites will get traffic, and so should send some traffic through the link. However, I wouldn’t rule a link out just because it didn’t send many visitors. If it sent no visitors at all though, then you’d have to question it’s value.

3) I don’t pay for links. If I did though, I doubt I’d pay more than a £100 for one, regardless of the site it was on.

Also added: “It’s a bit of a how long is a piece of string type situation though. It would depend on the industry, where the link is on the site, how many other links are on the page and site, the likelihood of it the site getting highlighted as a paid link, etc. If I gave you a number for the monetary value of a link on, say, a DA50 site, I’d just be making it up.”

Bruce Clay –

Bruce ClayAnother big name in the SEO world. Haven’t had the pleasure of an extended conversation with Bruce but his results speak for themselves and does talk at a number of SEO conferences around the world!

1.)   What is your top 3 (and rank them to) primary factors for valuing a potential link (PR, DA, traffic, moztrust etc)

  1. Organic – must be a reasonable expectation that the linking site is a knowledgeable “expert” on your site theme and page topic.
  2. Trusted – if a spammer or in a bad neighborhood I do not want it.
  3. Traffic is the reason for everything internet marketing
  4. Look at linking sites for “expertness”, “authority” and “trust”.

2.)   Does the amount of traffic (greatly) opinion your value of the link? Does it matter in your book?

  1. Does not matter for SEO specifically.
  2. Does matter if I want to achieve business goals.
  3. I think that High SEO but low traffic is good, and low SEO value but high traffic is good, but low-low is a waste and high-high is ideal.

3.)   All other factors the same, how much would you pay for a (PR2/3/4/5/6/7 or DA 20/30/40/50/60/70/80 or whatever your primary valuing factors are) link to your website, from a relevant niche (what monetary value would you put on a particular link?)

  1. I would never pay for a “link”, although a nofollowed ad might work. I am a firm believer that the link must naturally happen, and never be purchased to manipulate PR.
  2. Google is warring with link manipulation sites. I do not see the value in trying to fight them.

Simon –

  1. Simon PensonThe way we measure ‘link value’ has always been slightly different to the norm as we prefer to take a more ‘offline’ approach to the majority of the work we do. In practice that means we get less caught up in the technical aspects of link valuation and instead concentrate on how much authority the site has in ‘real brand’ terms. We also look at relevance and trust. These things can be measured by the usual metrics of course and we do check those things but prefer to ask simple questions like ‘do we want our client affiliated with a brand (site) like this?’ and ‘would having a link on the target site drive highly targeted visitors the client site?’. The latter ensures you look at high traffic sites and those that are super relevant. We do still use Majestic metrics CF and TF as well as the new topical metrics recently introduced to double check but first and foremost it is about the right brand affiliation so if I was to rank them it would be:

– Is the site a trusted/respected brand?

– Is it truly relevant to our client and would visitors to that site like what we have to offer?

– Does it have high TF and CF?

  1. Yes, in a word and not because of the traffic but because it is a great way of validating if the site is that ‘trusted and respected brand’, or not.
  1. Putting a value on a placement is hard. We would never just value to link alone as doing this misses the true value of a great PR placement. We look just as much at  the value of the traffic and brand awareness that such a placement would bring. It’s a sum of the parts, not simply about a link, especially given the fact that we are aware that Google values citations and co-occurence as well as pure link juice.

Reporting a monetary value of a placement is hard and there is no simple way but you can look at things like the value of the traffic from the referrer over time as well as things like what would the equivalent cost of buying advertising space on the site be.

Brent Carnduff – Echelon SEO

Brent Carnduff1. Valuing: Relevancy (either topical or location) DA, PR

2. Although I probably should, I don’t really worry about link traffic – it is very much a secondary bonus to me – I’m more concerned in building authority.

3. With the clients/budgets I work with, the only links I’ve ever recommended clients to pay for are more “trust building” in nature (i.e. Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, and industry related associations), they are not based on any specific “link” criteria, so I’m afraid I can’t answer this one.

Jerry West – Web Marketing Now

  1. Jerry WestFirst of all, Moz tools suck. Real SEOs make fun of Moz. Link Research Tools and SEMRush are far superior and they have REAL SEOs backing them instead of the puppet that is Rand. Relevance, Link Location, IP diversity, PowerTrust, & SEMRush history. I can’t put it in three as they all are important.
  1. Traffic doesn’t matter, yet. Emphasis on yet. We all know that Google put out their own browser in order to collect data on user behavior. Chrome has a way of detecting that sort of thing but I don’t think Google can reliably use it. Think of all the resource papers – how many of those citations are actively checked? Now, if you are getting links for the purpose of click-through referrals, then yeah, traffic matters, but I have yet encountered one business owner with a link campaign strategy with that end goal in mind.
  1. Pricing based on specific metrics can waste a ton of money if you don’t know what you’re doing. A PR7/DA50 could have all of its links from 3 IP blocks and be useless at $120/month. Then you might find a link that’s perfect for your market, PR2, DA25 (cough, cough), and with a handful of those it might rank at $20/month each. There’s no set rule. You just have to use good judgement and that takes experience. That is the one element that really can’t be taught as it comes from actually doing it. You can’t have a “cheat sheet” for the same reason. After you dive in and start doing this, you get the feel of not just the process, but for your market as well. Every market is different.

Dana DiTomaso – Kick Point

  1. dana-ditomasoThe value is will someone actually visit the site as a result of the link? And will that someone be the kind of visitor that I want to draw into the site?
  2. Yes, absolutely. If a link will bring traffic, that’s a great link.
  3. I wouldn’t pay based on pagerank or domain authority or anything else – again, will that link bring relevant traffic? If so, it’s like buying any other kind of ad and valued accordingly.

James – Head of Search at Zazzle Media

jamesperrott1.) What is your top 3 (and rank them to) primary factors for valuing a potential link (PR, DA, traffic, moztrust etc)

Trust flow

Topical trust flow

Citation flow

The site HAS to have some PR

2.) Does the amount of traffic (greatly) opinion your value of the link? Does it matter in your book?

Purely comes down to the meaning behind the link; is it for traffic purposes (digital PR) or is it ranking improvement (traditional outreach/guest posting).

3.) All other factors the same, how much would you pay for a (PR2/3/4/5/6/7 or DA 20/30/40/50/60/70/80 or whatever your primary valuing factors are) link to your website, from a relevant niche (what monetary value would you put on a particular link?)

I wouldn’t pay 🙂 

The following only tweeted back and didn’t email back so only answered the first question.

Dan – DejanSEO:

#1 is the link organic? #2 is it in the content section or elsewhere? #3 how strong or reputable is the linking page?

Mani Karthik –

Site Popularity, Topical Relevance, Content/Link Value.

AJ Kohn –

Only one really. Does the link improve visibility and drive traffic.

Tom Anthony SEO:

1) Would the coverage without the link be a win? If so the link is good!

2) Referring traffic via the link.

3) Domain Authority

So there you have it……If you are still here then….



I know we as SEOs like to dodge definite answers, with good reason, as our industry does change by the day, and hence as soon as you post a piece of content, it is already “out of date”.

But as I have had great responses from some huge SEOs, I think we can draw some pretty concrete conclusions from this

Relevancy is the key in 2014 and beyond. Relevance was in almost all of the answers from the SEOs above and as a result gets the golden stamp of apporval from us.

Authority/Trust – the second most mentioned point, but how people assess authority of a domain/link, everyone seems to disagree on. Some people say PR, some DA, some

My opinion:

If I wrote a response to my own questions, my order would have been authority and then relevance. This is because although Google is adapting and evolving, until we see spam sites completely out of the top results, you cannot argue the point of authority being more important than relevance.

How you rate authority can be argued into the night, but I think as long as you check the links to the page you are linking from you will be okay.

Research is and always will be KING. Not content.



IN Short: Trust, relate – Dominate.

Came up with that one myself. Boom.

Thanks to all the experts who replied to me, very awesome of you to go out of your way and respond in the way you did.

Thanks for reading and remember to share, tweet, comment and all that good stuff!