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What are the key metrics when selecting websites for link building?

There are a lot of buzzwords and tech jargon in the SEO space, and many myths to dispel. In this series of informative posts, we’ll look at the key metrics for building a strong backlink profile, and what a good selection can do for the performance of your site.

1.  Trust flow

When using link building to promote a site, it is important to acknowledge that not all backlinks are equal. Getting a backlink is easy enough, if you ignore the concept of quality. The importance of where you get your backlinks from is not to be ignored, though, and the “better” the site, the more beneficial a link from there will be. 

One way of judging the quality of a site is to see what its Trust Flow score is through the Majestic SEO tool. This tool assigns a score to sites based on a look at which sites link back to it. By using the tool you’ll also see a Citation Flow score, which gives a raw number for how many sites link back to a site. Dividing the Trust Flow by the Citation Flow score will give you a score known as “Trust Ratio”, which judges what proportion of backlinks to that site come from higher-quality sites. 

It should be made clear that Google and other search engines do not use a Trust Flow score in judging which sites are reliable. Aside from a few people who write the algorithms, nobody knows that they do use, but we do know they take quality and reputation into account, so fostering relationships with sites that score high on Trust Flow and Trust Ratio is an essential part of a link building strategy.

2.  Domain Rating/Authority

When evaluating a partner site for link building, one of the key aspects of your checks will always be the strength of that site’s own backlink profile. In order to get the best idea for how much their link will help you or your client, there are few metrics as important as domain rating and domain authority. 

While these metrics take account of a lot of the same information, and their names mean similar things, domain rating and authority are not identical and are, in fact, measured by different SEO tools. Domain Rating, measured using ahrefs, scores the backlink profile of a site from 1 to 100 (the higher the better) based on the quality of links. Domain Authority, developed by Moz, evaluates how well a website should rank in search engines. 

Having a backlink from another site is essentially analogous to having that site vouch for you. It’s that site’s way of saying to Google “it’s OK – they’re with me”. Therefore, you want links to sites with high scores for Domain Rating and Domain Authority, because their scores will rub off onto you. Consulting ahrefs and Moz for these scores before reaching out to a potential backlink partner is an essential part of strategic link building.

3.  Site Traffic

It’s standard practice, when evaluating sites for link building, to focus on the quality of the site. This is for good reason, too, given that it’s a metric that all search engines value. However, a separate measure that shouldn’t be ignored is the traffic that a site gets. 

There are a few reasons for this. The first is fairly clear – if your link goes on a site that is getting lots of traffic, then you will get referral traffic from people clicking the link. However, site traffic information can give you more pointers to leverage for further traffic to your site, too. 

For one thing, when you know you are getting a lot of runoff traffic from one site – which you can find out from Google Analytics – you can then look for more sites like that one. If a site is quite similar to one of your most valued backlink sources, it stands to reason that it will attract a similar user base – and getting your link on that site will have similar results. Checking that site’s traffic will give you an idea as to how much they’ll send your way. 

Additionally, and finally, if your backlink is performing well on another site, it makes it all the more important to foster and build a relationship with that site. This can turn into more links from them, which will only help your site.

4.  Relevance

The overall quality of a website is important when seeking out sites to assist your link building strategy. This much is clear and has been the focus of a lot of writing on SEO sites. However, quality itself should not distract from another important aspect of link building – relevance.

It is true that relevance is hard to measure, but it is something you should be able to judge for yourself by looking through potential backlinking partner sites. Plus, in ahrefs you can search using anchor text to see which sites are hosting articles like the ones on your site. If your site is concerned with health and you search for “[symptoms of diabetes]” for example, ahrefs can show you sites that may be useful sources of backlinks that are relevant to your site. 

The benefits of this are clear. If you wrote about the above topic and it was shared on a high-authority site about gardening, there would be some benefit to that link. There would be more benefit, though, if you were to get a backlink from sites about health or diet, so it should always be these sites you would target first.

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