What is a good quality backlink?

You want to clean up your backlink profile. But how do you know a decent quality backlink when you see one, and decide which you’d be better off without?

What does a good quality backlink look like?

Good quality backlinks, also called inbound links, are:

  • links from trusted, reputable websites, for example educational institutions (.edu)
  • links from ‘authority’ websites, for example your industry’s trade body, a national newspaper or the BBC
  • links from popular websites with large amounts of inbound traffic, generated via good quality content
  • links from web pages that only host a small number of outbound links as opposed to tens, hundreds or even thousands
  • links from urls that have been around for a while rather than brand new ones
  • links from relevant and niche websites specifically about / relating to your industry, sector, products, services or discipline
  • naturally acquired links you’ve won on merit, say through an excellent piece of content that attracted loads of positive attention
  • links from web pages with high PR (page rank) – you can check the PR of a page back-linking to your site via any number of free Google Page Rank checking tools, including this one: http://www.whatsmypr.net/. All you do is type in the backlink’s url and it returns a PR value of N/A to 10. N/A is very poor, nought is bad and 10 is as rare as hen’s teeth, every online marketer’s wet dream

What are bad quality inbound links?

It also helps to know what’s less than desirable. Some are easier to spot than others. Here’s what to look out for:

  • links from pages filled with crappy content (badly written, spun, thin on facts, badly spelled and punctuated or simply nonsensical)
  • irrelevant links, for example a link to your pet food site from a cosmetics site
  • links from pages that contain loads of other links
  • links from dodgy ‘neighbourhoods’ like porn, poker and pharmaceuticals
  • links from spammy link networks, link farms and content networks
  • a predominance of links with a low PR of N/A or 0
  • vast numbers of links generated automatically in a short space of time by link building tools
  • links from article networks, which often post articles in multiple places
  • sitewide links, where there’s a link to your site on every page of someone else’s site
  • reciprocal links
  • links from directories who don’t check submissions, letting everyone and their dog in
  • links from slow-loading websites
  • links from sites with too many adverts on the page, or too many ads above the crease (in the top half of the screen)
  • links from sites with broken or rubbishy code
  • links from sites without a contact page (mainly because it means you can’t request link removal if you need to)