What separates a good link from a bad link?

What makes a backlink the best one is a hotly debated topic among the SEO industry. Some tend to think it’s a matter of finding a single link with heavenly properties; others think it’s about a certain site with immense relevance within a specific niche. At the end of the day, the quality of a link is dictated by metrics that answer to mathematical and linguistical laws.

These are Authority and Relevance.

But even before considering these metrics…


The most basic thing a link needs to have is being indexed

If a link within your profile isn’t indexed, or the referring domain is deindexed, then that’s a bad link.

However, indexing is not relevant when getting a backlink from a new page. It would be best if you considered it a factor only when you’ve had a link up for, say, six months, and it still isn’t indexed. Or if it’s a new or existing link from a page that has been deindexed.

You can check this as easily as putting site: yourlink.com in a Google search.

This doesn’t mean that having indexed links means having the best links, but it’s good to keep in mind that if a link is in the index, it will give you exactly what you want: link juice.

With that out of the way, let’s dive deep.


Authority and Relevance in Links

Let’s start with Authority…

Whether you’re going for Domain Rating (RD)from Ahrefs or the number of Referring Domains (RD), Authority refers to the number and type of links within a site’s backlink profile. Meaning, a purely mathematical evaluation of a site’s backlink profile comes from several sources.

To simplify, Authority is:

  1. The total amount of links aiming at the entire site (DR)
  2. The total amount of links aiming at a specific page within a site (UR)

This means that while a link can come from a low DR site, it could have plenty of links from the specific URL and could still be a good link.

This is why a low-authority site can still be considered effective. Say there’s a site with over 100 links pointing to its homepage, but it only has a DR of 5.

If the homepage is relevant to a site it links to, it would still pass many UR signals since having more than 100 links is considered high for a single URL. This also applies to an internal URL and not just a domain home page. In the end, having enough links and contextual relevance with the target URL is what matters for UR.

By realizing that DR isn’t the whole picture, you can start considering pages with high UR as they’re still going to pass plenty of link juice.

But this doesn’t mean that you should forget about DR, especially when going for the best links you can find.

DR is the hint that tells you a site has authority. And, if a few links were to be aimed at a specific page within a high DR site, that will make that page an even better link for your profile. This is done using a Link building strategy known as Tier 2 Link Building.

So, now we know we don’t want a DR 0/UR 0 link, nor a DR 10/UR 10 link. But if you had a link that’s DR 60/UR 15, you could build a couple of Tier 2 links to that page and increase that UR to 20, or even 30, and improve its strength.

This would give you more link juice for less money than building a regular guest post. But if you already have a guest post and you want to power it up, this is the way to go.

Let’s move on to Relevance…

On the other hand, relevance refers to the contextual relation and meaning behind the keywords that the links inside a site’s backlink profile have with its overall niche and article topics. A linguistical assessment of a site’s backlink profile that comes in two forms: domain and page relevance.

Domain-level links with high relevance are hard to find and can only be done in certain niches. Still, if you manage to get a page that’s both domain and page relevant to what you’re linking to, it will pass a lot more juice.

Ideally, you would want a do-follow link that’s indexed, is contextually relevant to the site it’s aiming at, and make sure that the page’s content is also relevant. Still, it’s more important that the URL itself is relevant to your site.

Let’s recap a bit; you want to scale up your site by getting high DR/UR links that have page, content, and link relevance– and then scale up those links as well by using Tier 2 Links.


Best Links Identified

A high Domain Rating, with a high UR, relevance between source page, page content, and target URL are the factors that give you the most link juice from your backlinks. So, having a link from a page about bath sponges linking to your car rental service site won’t pass any relevance.

It’s important to keep in mind these factors and metrics when looking for the best link out there:

  • Make sure the link is indexed.
  • Make sure the link is do-follow.
  • Go for a link that has both, a high DR and high UR.
  • And that the link source page and its contents are relevant to the target URL.

And yes, this may take significant technical knowledge to understand. Still, you can start by looking at your own site, trying to analyse your backlinking, and using the criteria you learned today to separate the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’ ones.

We hope you found this article valuable and useful– and, remember, you can always schedule a free 15-minute call with our resident SEO experts to sort out any doubt or question you may have with your Link Building strategy.