Getting backlinks – links from other websites to your business’s website – is the most effective way to improve your rankings. Not all backlinks are equal though. Some backlinks won’t improve your rankings at all, and some might even have a negative effect. Therefore, your focus should be on acquiring high quality backlinks.
What makes a backlink high quality is subjective, and every SEO consultant will have at least a slightly differing opinion on the topic, however, most would agree that a good quality backlink would be comprised of several of the factors listed below, and that a backlink that ticks all of these boxes would be the perfect backlink.
It would be unrealistic to expect all of your backlinks to be perfect, and just because a backlink doesn’t meet all of these criteria it doesn’t make it low quality. If you can get a backlink to your business’s website that ticks at least a few of these boxes then it’s definitely worth having in your site’s link profile.
From a relevant source
Search engines want to provide relevance in their search results, and so it’s logical that relevance is a consideration when they evaluate backlinks, which are the primary factor affecting where sites rank in their results. A backlink can be relevant on different levels. Search engines consider the overall relevance of the linking site, the relevance of the specific page with the link on it, and the relevance of the content directly surrounding the link.
From a trusted source
It’s logical that a high quality backlink would come from a high quality website, and that a high quality site would also be a very trustworthy site. To determine if a website is trustworthy, search engines use a set of trusted seed sites (for example, Wikipedia, BBC, The Huffington Post, etc.), which they know for sure are high quality and which are difficult to get links from. The fewer the number of links away a site is from one of the seed sites, the higher its TrustRank is, and the higher the quality a link from that site is.
This aspect of backlinks too often gets forgotten about. The original purpose of links, before the time search engines started using them as a factor in their algorithms, was to add value to a page by directing visitors to resources relevant to the topic of that page. Visitors still click these links as often as they did when the internet was first created, and having a link in a prominent position on a highly visited page makes it high quality because, regardless of rankings, it will bring your website a continual stream of targeted visitors.
Exact/phrase/synonym match anchor link text used
The quality of a backlink increases if the words that form the clickable text of the link are the same as, or similar to, the words that you’re trying to improve your rankings for. It looks unnatural to have a lot of incoming links made up of exactly the same anchor link text though, so use plenty of variations. If you’re trying to rank your site for ‘mortgage advice’, as well as getting links with ‘mortgage advice’ as the anchor link text, good variations would be ‘advice on mortgages’, ‘professional mortgage advice’ and ‘mortgage guidance’.