6 Quality Indicators for Link Development

6 Quality Indicators for Link Development

As you begin conducting outreach to expand your backlink portfolio, it’s important to set quality standards during the research process. This involves setting quality criteria for websites that could potentially link to your content.

It’s critical to focus on the quality of sites that link your website, as high-quality traffic can help improve your brand’s authority, increase the quality of leads, and connect your content to the target audience. To obtain authoritative backlinks, look for these 6 quality indicators while investigating a site’s value:

1. Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority is a comparative metric that measures the authoritative strength of each domain on the internet. This metric was developed by MOZ and is indexed on a monthly basis. Domain Authority is measured on a scale of 1 – 100. Ultimately, a higher DA indicates a high authority and search engine ranking. Every new website will have DA ranking of 1, and over time this can be increased with high-quality content and SEO best practices.


Quality Tip

When researching a website for link outreach, ensure that a DA is 30 or higher. Having a targeted DA ranking in mind will help you quickly qualify a site for your link development campaign.

2. Page Authority (PA)

Page Authority is a quality metric developed from the Mozscape Index, which measures the strength of an individual page located on a domain. Typically, a website’s homepage will have the highest PA compared to other pages on the site. Generally, this is because a homepage has a better chance of ranking compared to deeper pages on a website.

While performing research, do not be alarmed if you see a webpage with a PA of 1, as this usually indicates that the webpage is new and has not yet been discovered by Moz’s Index crawler. After a few months, a page with a PA of 1 will likely see an increase.

When reviewing smaller website, you may notice that the page authority may not be as high as a larger site. Smaller sites do not stay in the Moz Index for more than 190 days, unless it’s in the queue to be recrawled.

To check to see if a domain will be queued for re-indexing, use the Just Discovered feature in Open Site Explorer.

Just Discovered Links feature in Open Site Explore

It’s okay to qualify a site with a lower PA for your link development campaign, as Domain Authority holds more weight to the authoritative value and overall SEO performance of a website.

Quality Tip

You can verify a webpage’s domain and page authority by using the MozBar (a free Chrome-extension), Open Site Explorer (a backlink analysis tool) or the SERP Analysis section of Keyword Explorer.

3. Relevancy

When investigating a webpage for link placement, take time to review the content on the page. Pay close attention to keyword phrases in regard to the relevancy of your content and industry. To take a deeper look into organic keyword phrases associated with a domain, try using a tool such as SEMRush for insights into organic ranging keywords at a domain or page level.


After reviewing the relevancy of a site, you’ll have a have a better idea of the targeted domain’s content, and if it’s relevant to your content or business goals.

Quality Tip

You may also find sites with content that does not specifically focus on your target SEO keywords, but include a more general topic. For example, if you want to build links to a piece of content that’s focused around a general topic such as ‘high blood pressure’, you may want to research health or fitness sites, as they would be relevant to keywords related to high blood pressure.

4. DoFollow Links

While investigating the quality of a website, it’s important to recognize the difference between ‘DoFollow’ and ‘NoFollow’ links.

A ‘DoFollow’ link is best suited for link building, as this type of link passes authority from Google to your site. When you’re conducting research and qualifying links for outreach, ensure the webpage your targeting includes “DoFollow’ links. The more natural ‘DoFollow’ links a webpage has, the greater chance to rank in search engine results.

Most of the links you will acquire will be ‘DoFollow’ links, but you’ll also find sites and webpages that include ‘NoFollow’ links. If you notice that a webpage is mostly made up of ‘NoFollow’ links, proceed with caution. Determine the relevance of the site to your industry and website content. Additionally, look for your competitors on the webpage. Are they featured? If so, you may want to reach out so that your target audience can be directed to your site on the webpage that your competitor is listed on.

Quality Tip

While compiling a list of sites to reach out to, ensure that 80% of the sites you plan to contact ‘DoFollow’ outbound links on a webpage. This will help you build quality and authoritative backlinks in the long-run.

5. Traffic

Through a link investigators eyes, high-traffic websites are the best places for your site or link to be listed. Not only do high-traffic sites provide link value, there’s also an increased likelihood the site will generate referral traffic for your website.

7 Criteria to consider when building links traffic

Referral traffic is extremely beneficial and essentially the highway to your content for your site visitors. If you place a link on a site that receives high traffic, it’s possible that you’ll see an increase in leads, rankings, and traffic on your own site. Not to mention a placement on a high referring domain, can also increase your brand’s visibility, trust, and authority.

Quality Tip

Always investigate traffic and never judge a website by its cover. Sometimes, a less-than-aesthetically-appealing webpage can receive high amounts of quality traffic.

6. Spam

Since the Google Panda algorithm update was launched in 2012, spam has been a sensitive subject to SEO experts. This update worked to decline the rankings of websites violating Google’s guidelines. This algorithm update focused on targeting sites associated with link schemes, which involved linking to low-quality sites with spammy anchor text.

Performing a quick “site search” will reveal a site that has the potential to become a bad backlink in your site’s portfolio.

Quality Tip

While you’re investigating a domain, perform a site search of spam related keywords that may still be associated with that domain. Search for the keywords: “payday loans” “porn” “pills” and “online casino.”  If any results come up for these keywords, avoid associating with the domain.

Link development can be very complex and subjective. However, the process of obtaining high-quality backlinks can become simpler once a quality qualification procedure is practiced. Using the quality criteria listed above, you’ll build a stronger link portfolio and enjoy a more successful link development campaign.

Are you using content to build more links? Read more to find out how to leverage linkable assets to boost upcoming link building efforts.


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Backlinks are still considered the currency of the internet, regardless of what industry pundits may say. With Vertical Measures’ link building services, you’ll be able to build traffic and authority for your website.

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Theresa Frost

Theresa Frost joined the Vertical Measures team in 2015. Theresa’s passion for digital marketing stems from her creative background in graphic design. Now, you can find her researching the latest digital marketing trends and SEO techniques. As a Chicago transplant, Theresa enjoys the scenic mountain views of Arizona and spring training baseball games. Theresa is also a frequent visitor of Chicago eateries in the valley, such as Portillo’s and Lou Malnati’s.