A strong backlink profile contributes significantly to your website’s success. High quality backlinks are the best way to show Google that your website is worth ranking high on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This, paired with strong on-page SEO, drives more traffic to your site.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks (sometimes called SEO backlinks) are links from third-party sites to your website. Backlinks can send you referral traffic. More important: Google uses these links as ranking signals, as a form of endorsement. When you get a backlink from other quality websites, it tells Google that your site is high quality.
Your SEO Backlink Profile
Your SEO backlink profile combines the number of your site’s backlinks with the quality of those backlinks. So you must consider the quality of the sites that link to you. For example, a backlink from Home Depot helps you more than a link from your local hardware store.
Google’s goal is to serve and rank the best and most useful sites in response to user queries. Google reads various signals in order to deliver the best results. If lots of spam sites link to you, Google might eliminate them from your backlink score or even penalize you. And, if you're penalized, you'll likely see a loss in organic rankings.
How to Measure the Quality of Your Website’s Backlink Profile
A number of tools can help you measure the quality of your backlink profile. Among the most used are Domain Authority, from Moz, and Domain Rating, from Ahrefs. They calculate Authority Scores, based on the number of domains linking to your site and the quality of those domains. Generally, these tools grade from 0 – 100, with 100 the highest quality backlink profile. This grade tells you whether or not your current link-building strategies are working. It also helps you decide whether to invest more in link building. Note that all these tools (and there are many) work slightly differently, so it’s important to understand exactly how your chosen tool works.
Scores from these tools aim to quantify your ability to rank for keywords relative to your competition. Google doesn’t factor the scores these tools award. But the scores do matter, as they give you insights into your backlink profile and your competitors. You don’t need to aim for 100, but you definitely want to score higher than your online competitors. If you do, you’ll tend to rank higher than your competitors on SERPs. A good backlink score is different within each niche, as it's relative to your competition.
For example: If you and your main competitor optimize a webpage for 100 of the same keywords, the site with higher authority score will likely rank higher on Google. But that’s just one factor. If your competitor creates a webpage that better serves user intent for a specific keyword, that webpage will likely trump your overall authority score and outrank you for that specific keyword. Keep in mind that your overall backlink profile, though very important, is just one of many signals Google reads.
How to Improve Your SEO Backlink Profile
Build high-quality backlinks to improve your authority score. For this you need “considered” backlinking. Essentially, someone on your team must find websites to link to your site's content. Three quick tips:
- Build a list of quality, relevant websites that would be good link partners. Contact site decision-makers via personal emails.
- Share content on social media, so people can grab it and link back to your site.
- Guest blog on other websites and add a link to your site.
Of course, there’s more to backlinking than what we’ve shared in this brief primer. Read our post on link-building strategies to learn more.
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