H/T to @joehall, who recently called out the SEO Industry’s collective over-focus on the “quality” of a backlink. 

As Joe puts it in his article:

“The SEO community has this almost unhealthy obsession with high-quality backlinks. So much so that many ignore the fundamental basics of content promotion and marketing in an effort to acquire the highest-quality links.”

Joe, we are SOOOO with you on that.

One other element that gets too much focus (which Joe also calls out in his article) is DA. We see domain-authority-level metrics as grossly over-used, over relied on, in terms of determining the ‘value’ of a backlink.

Why?

In our years of impact tracking over 25,000 links built we have not identified DA as an indication of the impact (correlation between a link built and an improvement in rank, traffic, revenue) backlinks can have. 

Anecdotally, here’s why we think that is:

  • The relative ease by which DA is ‘gamed’
  • As DA goes up, a domain’s covered topics often become more diverse and therefore less topically relevant as a linking site
  • A heavy advertising revenue focus often means more time is spent on quantity of content vs. quality (as subjective as it is) of that content 
  • Affiliate links are often used as a revenue stream for large, high-DA sites, further muddying the relevancy & intent waters
  • Higher DA sites have far more pages, and the pages are not linked from the homepage, so that links from these pages are less valuable
  • The velocity of content publishing will often paginate an article (with a link to your page) into relative oblivion
  • And many more

His article goes into great detail about multiple tactics; how to leverage other SEO and SEO-adjacent tactics to also build links, he breaks down common types of link building, discusses ‘human link mapping’ and highlights tools and other authors.

One very large caveat: I’m not advocating for poor quality, spammy, irrelevant backlinks (and I don’t think Joe is either). But if you’re up against strong competition, the key is to focus on building enough backlinks to boost your rankings, and as much as we hope that putting a lot of effort into a single high quality, high-DA backlink is going to be the equivalent of 100 backlinks of lesser quality or DA, in our experience that’s not the case.

As far as a relevant, well-written SEO article on backlinks goes, Joe’s is one to read. Hope you feel as inspired by reading it as we were.

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