How to Measure Link Quality and Build Great Backlinks

And how to avoid toxic links that might hurt your website?
Published on 
May 27, 2024
Updated on 
May 27, 2024

Measuring link quality is the first step in any link building campaign. Before committing time and money to building those invaluable backlinks, you need to know whether or not a link is high quality enough to warrant the effort and resources. That is to say: is a link going to contribute to the EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust) of the target page or not?

At dofollow, those are the kinds of judgment calls we make for our clients all the time. We make sure our clients are getting backlinks of the highest quality and relevance, leveraging our long-standing industry relationships to access websites and link building opportunities that very few people have at their disposal. 

In a rapidly evolving serach landscape, where content is abundant yet high-quality links are scarce, we’re at the forefront of user-centric, natural link building–the kind that search engines won’t see as spam because we build links with the end user in mind. 

What makes a link high quality?

There is no one thing that makes a backlink high quality. That’s a very outdated way to think of link building. A link’s quality is the sum total of three important factors. Those are: 

  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

We’re going to break each one of those down for you in the following sections. 


Relevance and quality go hand in hand when it comes to link building. A backlink's relevance is determined by the coherence between the content of the linking page and that of the linked page. It’s something of a value judgement, but it is usually quite straightforward to determine relevance. 

If it makes sense for site A to be linking to site B at the page level (does the content of the referring page make sense in the context of the target page?) then there is relevance there. Relevance is a scale, with some link building opportunities being much more relevant than others. 

Relevance is also communicated via anchor text. The anchor text utilized for the link should accurately encapsulate the essence of the linked page. A link opportunity on a highly relevant page with poorly planned anchor text is a link building opportunity squandered. 

By prioritizing relevance, backlinks not only enhance the coherence of web content but also contribute to a more intuitive and user-centric browsing experience.


The authority of backlinks serves as a critical determinant of their quality because, ultimately, you want that authority passed on to your site. 

Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) metrics offer insights into the credibility and influence of a domain and its individual pages, respectively. Backlinks coming from authoritative domains boost the perceived credibility and trustworthiness of the linked content. 

So, higher DA and PA scores signify a stronger endorsement from reputable sources, thereby elevating the perceived value and relevance of the linked page in the eyes of search engine algorithms and users alike.

The end goal with link building and link acquisition is to increase domain authority, and you do that by making sure that you are adding as many high-authority backlinks to your backlink profile as possible. 


Trustworthy backlinks originate from sources that don’t use untrustworthy or spammy link building practices, adhering to ethical and transparent linking strategies instead.

Backlinks from reputable and established domains signal the reliability and authenticity of the linked content. If we get major tech blogs and publications linking to a client’s website, that tells Google (and readers) that trustworthy names in the industry are “vouching” for the quality of our client’s content. 

Conversely, links from disreputable sources, or from websites that utilize things like private blog networks to build their backlinks, can undermine a website's credibility and authority, potentially triggering penalties from search engines and compromising organic search visibility.

By prioritizing trustworthy backlinks, website owners can establish a clean, helpful online reputation–the kind that search engines like Google want to see–which, in turn, will result in higher rankings, more traffic and more conversions for your pages.

Link quality evaluation pitfalls

When evaluating backlinks for SEO, it’s important to make sure that you are not only focusing on the right metrics, but avoiding the potentially misleading ones. A lot of new link builders and SEOs get hung up on the wrong data when measuring links. 

Overall site traffic vs page-level traffic

Don’t focus on what the entire site traffic is saying, what does the page-level traffic look like? 

High-traffic pages attract specific audiences, improve user engagement signals, and enhance the overall effectiveness of backlinks. Specificity is key when building and evaluating backlinks. 

Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) scores

Give some but don’t give too much credence to Domain Authority. PA measures the strength of individual pages, reflecting their ability to rank in search engine results, making it a more targeted metric for evaluating link quality and relevance.

Consider the following blog article: 

Here are the DA and PA scores from MOZ: 

Notice that the PA is 17 points lower than the domain authority. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a backlink from this page would constitute a DA48 link. It’s the PA of 31 that is the more important metric here. 

Anchor text over-optimization

The anchor text accompanying a link significantly impacts the relevance and authority of the link building opportunity. Well-crafted anchor text that accurately reflects the content it links to can enhance the link's value in search engine rankings and user experience. Conversely, irrelevant or spammy anchor text may diminish the link's credibility and SEO effectiveness.

Don’t forget to consider not just the site, the page, and the authority of a referring domain; consider how the anchor text (and how much control you have over it) will impact a link. 

III. Tools for Measuring Link Quality and Backlink Profile

When it comes to measuring link quality, there are two options: free tools and paid tools. Most link builders use a combination of both and we’re going to break down some of the most commonly used free and paid tools out there. 

Paid tools: 

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMrush
  • Moz

The above three are basically the holy trinity of link building analytics. Different link builders and SEOs have their preferences, but if you’re serious about building links, you are going to want to use the paid version of at least one of these tools. 


Ahrefs is what we mostly us and it offers a comprehensive suite of tools designed to help you measure backlinks and identify link building opportunities effectively. With features like Site Explorer, you can analyze your competitors' backlink profiles and uncover potential areas for improvement in your own link strategy. 

The Ahrefs' Content Explorer is also helpful because it allows you to discover content ideas and identify valuable link opportunities that can enhance your website's authority and visibility in search engine results.

Ahrefs offers four pricing plans:

  • Lite: Starts at €89/month
  • Standard: Starts at €179/month
  • Advanced: Starts at €369/month
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing


Like Ahrefs, SEMrush offers a suite of tools specifically designed to address link building and link analysis challenges, helping you strengthen your backlink profile and enhance SEO performance. 

The Backlink Analytics tool, Backlink Audit Tool, Backlink Gap analysis, and Link Building Tools help you identify unique opportunities for improving your backlink profile, analyzing competitor strategies, and tracking changes in target keywords and locations. 

Semrush offers three pricing plans:

  • Pro: $129.95/month
  • Guru: $249.95/month
  • Business: $499.95/month


Moz Pro gives you access to features like  Link Explorer, which allows exploration of over 40 trillion links for powerful backlink data, and Competitive Research tools to identify competitors, keyword gaps, and link opportunities. 

What’s more, tools like Domain Analysis and Site Crawl can help you help users uncover insights about your backlinks, diagnose technical SEO issues, and optimize your site for higher rankings and quality traffic. 

Moz Pro offers four plans:

  • Standard: $99/month ($79/month billed annually)
  • Medium: $179/month ($143/month billed annually)
  • Large: $299/month ($239/month billed annually)
  • Premium: $599/month ($479/month billed annually)

Free Tools

As you can clearly see, using the paid tools to measure backlink quality can get quite pricey. There are free tools out there that are helpful (though certainly not as powerful) that still provide valuable information to help you better measure link quality. 

These include 

Even the big players mentioned previously have free versions of some of their tools: 

Identifying Low-Quality Backlinks

So far, we’ve predominantly dealt with the positive link building KPIs when it comes to backlink measurement. 

It’s also worthwhile to know how to measure the garbage. Sometimes, the question isn’t “how good is this link backlink or link building opportunity,” but “how bad”. You need to to how to find and capitalize on the high authority backlinks as much as you need to know how to avoid toxic links. 

In a nutshell, low-quality backlinks are links from websites that lack authority, relevance, or trustworthiness. These backlinks pose significant risks to a website's SEO efforts, including penalties and decreased visibility. 

Examples of low-quality backlinks include links from link farms, irrelevant directories, and spammy forums. These are the kinds of links that Google is increasingly cracking down on in its core updates and which could end up seeing your site hit with a manual action penalty

Quality Link Building

Link building continues to be of paramount importance when it comes to search engine optimization. There is still no better way to send powerful trust and authority signals to Google than by acquiring links from and building links on relevant, credible, authoritative websites. 

That’s where dofollow comes in. 

Our industry leading link building service is one of the few out there that is fully committed to building user-centric, human-first backlinks. We are a full-service, quality-over-quantity agency that leverages relationships and meticulously honed proprietary tactics to find link building opportunities that will increase ranking, traffic and conversions. That’s what we do

Learn More About Link Building

If you're intrigued by the art and science of link building, we offer a wealth of resources on various strategies and techniques to help you master this essential aspect of SEO. Dive into our articles on edu link building, natural link building, HARO link building and infographic link building for insights into building high-quality links that boost your website's authority and credibility. 

Explore innovative approaches such as broken link building, building links in the VPN niche, and relevant backlinks to uncover new opportunities for enhancing your backlink profile. If you're interested in understanding the nuances of backlink types, check out our pieces on YouTube backlinks, link insertions and a comprehensive list of link building ideas.

Additionally, we delve into the realm of link reclamation and unlinked mentions to help you refine your link-building strategies and reclaim lost opportunities and go deep into the differences between white hat link building and black hat link building so that you know how to avoid sabotaging your link building efforts. 

Whether you're a seasoned SEO professional or just beginning your journey, our comprehensive library of articles covers everything from link building benefits and mistakes to advanced topics like competitors' backlinks and future-proof link building. Explore the diverse facets of link building with our collection of articles and elevate your website's SEO performance.

Why Trust Us On SEO

Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.

Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.

While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.

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