Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors that Google uses to determine the authority and relevance of a website. However, not all backlinks have equal value – low-quality links from irrelevant or untrustworthy sites can actually harm your search engine visibility. That’s why regularly evaluating your backlinks for relevance and authority is crucial for any SEO strategy.
Understanding Link Relevance
The relevance of a backlink is about how topically related that linking page is to your site. Links from pages discussing similar subjects to yours signal to search engines that your content is worthwhile in those topics. Some key signals of a relevant, good quality link include:
- Content of the linking page closely related to your site’s focus
- Uses keywords your site targets and is optimised for those terms
- Link text contains your target keywords or brand name
- Link is editorial, natural and given willingly without payment
Conversely, links from totally unrelated sites and content don’t pass much equity or relevance to search engines. This is one area where it pays to work with a link building company UK.
Judging Link Authority
Authority measures how trustworthy and influential the sites linking to you are. In general, links from popular, well-established publications with lots of quality links of their own carry more weight. Ask yourself these questions to estimate an individual site’s authority:
- Is the site well-designed and regularly updated?
- Does it rank well in search engines and have strong domain metrics?
- Does the site have many reputable sites linking to it?
- Is it seen as an expert/leader in its niche?
While metrics like domain rating tools can estimate authority, always assess by eye too. A spammy site can sometimes sneak through with what looks like strong domain metrics.
Evaluating backlinks by type gives added insight into their quality and value. Group links into buckets like:
Branded Anchor Text Links
Links containing your brand name or trademark pass tremendous relevancy signals. They indicate people linking out when discussing your business specifically.
These inbound links feature your target keyphrases in the anchor text. Because they pass direct keyword signals, in moderation they can boost rankings for those terms. Too many can seem unnaturally manipulative though.
Editorial links come about naturally when websites reference and discuss content from your site. They pass the most pure and direct relevancy signals. Sites like newspapers and blogs allow gaining high-quality editorial links.
Business directories and aggregator sites linking out often fall into the low-quality bracket today. Exceptions exist though, like high-authority industry directories that drive direct referral traffic.
Any paid links must use nofollow attributes. Otherwise, search engines will likely penalise your site for link buying. As nofollow links pass no equity, buying links solely to manipulate rankings is largely pointless now.
Link building should never be a set-and-forget effort. Google’s algorithms evolve constantly, so you must revisit your backlink profile regularly to spot potential issues. Stay on top of these key evaluation tasks:
- Use link tracking software to monitor new links as they come in. Link tracking tools provide granular data on incoming links like the date acquired, anchor text used, and page authority of the referring site. This allows you to identify valuable new links worth promoting to gain more similar links.
- Identify poor quality or irrelevant links for cleanup. Find links you wouldn’t want to intentionally build more of. Reach out to site owners directly requesting link takedown nicely. Or use disavow files to tell Google not to count them.
- Check domain metrics of existing links in case authority changes. Use historical domain data to spot established sites that may have turned spammy or seen inbound link quality decrease lately. These could signal future algorithm penalties, so you’ll want to disavow them.
- Build fresh links to offset attrition from old broken links. Bit by bit, some links pointing at your site will go dead as the linking pages get moved or deleted. Creating new high-quality links helps counterbalance this. Content upgrades are an excellent approach here.
- Watch for links from sites penalised by algorithms like Google’s Penguin. Scan link reports sorting by date for recent links from domains hit by algorithm penalties. Google can interpret links from penalised sites as suspicious attempts to manipulate page rank. Swift disavowal avoids negative SEO impact.
- Audit wider link neighbourhoods to judge link quality circumstantially. Check who else links to the same pages as you and whether they seem related. Unrelated neighbours could indicate paid links or low-quality directories.
Proactively keeping backlink relevancy and authority high pays off directly in your site’s search visibility and keyword rankings.
Evaluating the relevance and authority of backlinks pointing at your website needs to be an ingrained habit for any serious SEO practitioner. Both factors play directly into search engine determinations of your own site’s quality and trustworthiness too. By pruning irrelevant, manipulative and low-quality links while proactively building new editorial links over time, you can directly strengthen your rankings in a sustainable white hat manner.
How important do you think backlinks are to your overall SEO strategy? Let us know.