What makes a high-quality link?

Jun 18, 2021 by
What makes a high-quality link?

You can try to complicate all you want but when it comes down to it, SEO always has been and always will be about link building. Yes, content has never been kinglier and there is a greater emphasis now on relevance and/or authority (though which is of greater importance remains up for debate) but backlinks are still the bread and butter of all SEO campaigns.

In many ways, it’s also one of the few SEO practices that feels a little bit stuck in the past but there is one thing about link building today that sets it apart from link building ten years ago – quality over quantity. But what exactly makes for a high-quality link in 2021?

Let’s take a look at some of the common factors that make a link less of a search engine manipulation and more of a legitimate endorsement of your site.

Page rank

Just because more and better links might lead to an increase in page rank, that doesn’t necessarily mean sites with a higher page rank always represent more quality links. Indeed, when perusing for backlinks, we’d recommend ignoring page rank entirely.


Conversely, domain authority (the ranking metric dreamt up by Moz) is definitely something to consider, as this also takes into account the trust associated with a site, as well as its age and size. It’s a more nuanced metric that is more likely to point you in the direction of a solid link than a simple page rank.


Ultimately, the internet was not built to be read by a search engine algorithm but by human beings, and human beings are creatures that work by association and relevancy. A good backlink is one that not only relates to your content and your brand but leads to engaging and exciting content that in some way reinforces your own. Completely irrelevant links will not only put off those that click on them but could be flagged up by Google.


The age of a domain shouldn’t have much of a reflection on the quality of a link. You could argue that sites that have been around for longer are innately more trustworthy but that’s not necessarily the case. Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s WebSpam Team) has gone so far as to confirm that domain age is not a factor worth worrying about. So don’t worry about it!

Anchor text

Keyword optimised anchor text is still a major target for the Google algorithm but today, it’s more about making that anchor text seem natural than anything else. Keep your anchor text varied and natural and your links will be all the better for it.

Editorial links

These are the links that appear in the body of the text itself and are comfortably the most high-quality links, as long as they are well-placed and relevant, of course.

Generally speaking, the easier a link is to acquire, the less valuable it will be. There’s a law that says nothing worth having in life comes easy and it would appear that also applies to links. The best practice is to just use your common sense. If a link seems spammy then it probably is. Just take your time and keep the criteria above in mind and you’ll soon be building great quality links.