Link building is simple, right? You can just get backlinks from any external website and improve your SEO today.
If you want to get the most out of your link-building tactics, you should be tracking and analyzing your link metrics first.
Link metrics help you judge the value of a potential backlink so that you’re not building links blindly.
In a nutshell, links coming from poor sites can hurt your SEO and reputation. On the flip side, those from authoritative, quality websites can help boost your SEO and rankings.
But to make sure you’re getting only quality backlinks, you need to know what link metrics you should be tracking and how.
So, here’s what we’ll cover below:
- Why use link metrics as part of your link-building if you want to optimize for success.
- Top 5 link metrics to look at when analyzing backlink quality.
- When and how to use these link metrics as part of your SEO.
Why Use Link Metrics As Part Of Your Link-Building And SEO Strategy
Let’s keep it straightforward: Links are a crucial part of SEO.
While you can rank without backlinks, certain keywords and topics are going to be more and more competitive and difficult.
So, you’ll need links pointing to your website in order to build trust and authority.
Backlinks, in particular, still remain one of Google’s key ranking signals.
That’s essentially how the PageRank algorithm works!
But it’s also important to note that you should always prioritize quality backlinks over quantity.
It’s not as simple as building more and more links to a page and expecting to rank.
If that were the case, everyone would just get 100 backlinks for $20.
Pro tip: You don’t need to be an SEO expert to guess that a lot of these links are worthless and scammy.
Once everyone knows how to create quality content, links are the main, determining factor in what will rank. This is especially the case in competitive niches and keywords.
So, what link metrics should you look at to improve your link building?
Let’s take a look.
Top 5 Link Metrics To Look At When Analyzing Backlink Quality
Typically, the link metrics you should be looking at include:
- Niche relevance.
- Page authority (PA).
- Domain rating (DR).
- Linking root domain.
- Organic traffic.
Though, keep in mind, you shouldn’t be looking at these link metrics in a vacuum.
A website can have a high domain rating, but their organic traffic might be next to non-existent and their niche might not be relevant to your content.
Now, here’s what you need to know about each link metric.
Technically, this isn’t a real, quantifiable metric. But it’s an essential part of link-building nonetheless.
The way this works is that, when building links, you ALWAYS want to be building links from relevant or niche-adjacent industries pointing to your site.
Google is getting smarter.
Imagine you own a tech review blog and gain backlinks from a blog post about top fitness exercises.
Similarly, you’ll sometimes find blogs writing about just about everything. From health to tech to celebrity gossip and more – all in one place.
These sites are created with the sole purpose of farming backlinks.
It goes without saying, these blogs will NOT be relevant and a backlink from there will NOT have much impact.
If anything, they might harm your reputation as Google might consider them a link from a backlink farm.
Meanwhile, if you own a marketing blog and receive a backlink from an article about SEO – that’s fair game!
This is a simple concept. But very important when it comes to your link metrics.
Now, let’s take a look at some other factors.
Page authority (PA)
Page authority (PA) is a score developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engine result pages (SERP).
The metric is scored from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank. This metric is similar to Domain Rating (DR, see below), except it only applies to a single page rather than the whole domain.
You can use PA to assess the strength of a page you’re getting a backlink from to know how worthwhile it will be.
To do that, you can simply use MOZ’s free authority checker tool.
Domain rating (DR)
Domain rating (DR) is a propriety SEO metric by Ahrefs, which refers to the “strength” of a given domain. So, generally, the higher your authority, the better.
This link metric represents the strength of your backlink profile on a scale from 0 to 100 – with a higher number being better.
Essentially, this metric helps predict how likely you are to rank in search engine result pages.
Although how exactly they calculate the metric is unknown, we know that Ahrefs looks at multiple essential SEO factors, such as:
- The number of domains linking to your website.
- The DR of these referring domains. Typically, you’ll want backlinks from websites with a higher DR than you, to show your relevance and authority.
- The number of websites the referring domain links to.
According to an Ahrefs study, Domain Rating (DR) and keyword rankings for 218,000+ domains correlate well.
While this doesn’t prove causation, here’s a good way to look at the DR metric:
Your domain rating is good if it’s higher than or comparable to similar sites.
If you’re trying to rank for a keyword but the current blog ranking for it has a DR of 80+, while you have a mere 20 – it might be hard (but not impossible) to outrank them.
To check your DA, you can also use the Ahrefs website authority checker for free.
Linking root domain
Linking root domain refers to the number of distinct domains that link to you, not the number of backlinks.
This metric can be a better indication of the true popularity of a website. Because, if website A links to you 10 times from 10 different blog posts, that would count as 10 backlinks but still just 1 referring domain.
Assumin Google thinks of links as “votes“, then in this case, no matter how many times a website links to you, it still counts as one vote.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there may be a point of diminishing returns to consider if you’re getting links from the same domain over and over.
Another thing to consider here is the quality of the domain.
Just because a site has 400+ referring domains, doesn’t mean they’re all quality ones.
Organic traffic measures the number of users visiting your website from SERP.
How is this related to SEO link metrics?
That’s because you want backlinks from “healthy” websites.
And one way to analyze the “health” of a website is to look at its organic traffic over time.
If a website’s traffic plummeted like this, chances are, they were doing something shady and got hit with a penalty by Google.
So, a backlink from here would be pointless.
Also keep in mind, a website might have a high DA, but if their organic traffic looks like this – the other metrics don’t matter either.
Once again, it’s important to note that link-building metrics don’t exist in a vacuum.
Just because a website has high DA, doesn’t mean they’re otherwise legit.
You need to analyze other link metrics to decide if a link from that page will be relevant to you.
Let’s take a look at how to do just that.
When and How To Use Link Metrics As Part Of Your SEO
As covered above, link metrics help you gauge the success of your link-building initiatives and efforts.
So, to successfully start using link metrics as part of your SEO campaigns, you can use them to evaluate the websites you’d be getting backlinks from.
Some practical examples of link metric use cases may include:
- Using them as an indicator of ranking potential.
- Knowing how many backlinks you should aim for to rank on the SERP.
- Using the metrics to sort, filter, and prioritize link-building prospects.
- Using them to audit your or your competitors’ backlinks.
- Evaluating the value of traffic or backlinks.
And overall, knowing which direction to steer your SEO link-building towards based on data-informed decisions.
Whether you’re focusing on guest posts, niche edits, or some other form of link-building, you’ll want to analyze each link metric for your prospects before doing outreach.
To track the above link metrics, you can use SEO tools such as Semrush, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, MozBar, and more.
To recap, link metrics are an important part of any link-building campaign. These metrics can help you measure your performance and narrow down your link prospects so that you’re targeting the right blogs.
Now, to sum up:
- What metrics are used in link building?
The exact metrics you’ll use will depend on your link-building campaign and what you’re trying to measure. But typically, the main metrics you’ll want to note down include niche relevance, Page Authority (PA), Domain Rating (DR), linking root domain, and monthly organic traffic.
- How do you evaluate the quality of a link?
To evaluate the quality of a link and measure the above metrics, you can use SEO tools such as Ahrefs, Semrush, or Moz. Though, keep in mind, these tools might give you contrasting data. That’s because each of them operate based on a different algorithm and they won’t be 100% accurate.
- How do I track my link building?
To track your link-building efforts, you can use SEO tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz, and others, and analyze your website performance over time. Your link-building efforts will affect your ranking, so that should be a good place to start. Alternatively, you can also use Google Analytics or Google Search Console.
Alternatively, looking to improve your link-building and start ranking higher on Google?
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