How to Check Backlink Quality for Free

Link building is one of the quickest, most effective strategies to boost SEO and transform your business.

But…

While most SEO strategies are straightforward, backlinks can be a bit tricky and can kill all your progress if done wrong. For instance, you must avoid any illegal link-building techniques that could get your site penalized. 

So in today’s post, you’re going to learn how to check backlink quality for free in a few simple steps. But first, let’s start by understanding what a good backlink is and why.

What Makes a Good Backlink?


A quality backlink signal to Google that other online resources find your content helpful and interesting. Which is why link building is a great strategy to dominating the SERPs. 

Quality Backlinks
freepik – www.freepik.com

But what is it exactly that makes a quality backlink?

For starters…

All backlinks you build should be natural and unpaid for if you want to gain Google’s trust. That explains why it’s illegal to buy inbound links of any sort or build low-quality backlinks.

Aside from that, here are three important elements that make an inbound link highly valuable:

1- PageRank

Not all web pages linking to your website will pass the same link power. Simply because some brands are more authoritative and influential than others.

To estimate domain power, Google uses a metric called PageRank. And the higher it is, the more link juice your domain will get from that website.

To put that in simple terms:

Getting a backlink from Entrepreneur Magazine helps your SEO more than a backlink from a small local magazine.

Unfortunately…

You can no longer check the PageRank for any web pages online because Google decided to hide it to prevent illegal SEO techniques. Instead, you must look at Domain Authority (DA), which is a similar metric developed by Moz.

2- Relevance

If you wanted to find the best places in Scotland to spend your holidays, it’s more reasonable to ask a travel enthusiast who’s already been there. Right?

Well… Google follows the same logic.

Search engines consider industry-related backlinks more heavily. That’s how they make sure the information you’re sharing is accurate and useful.

3- Direct Traffic

Will the backlink get you direct traffic?

This isn’t directly related to SEO and may not be as important when evaluating domain quality. However, it’s better to focus your link-building outreach on larger websites that can drive direct traffic to your site. 

3 Ways to Check Backlink Quality in 2021


There are many times when a backlink may seem to check all the boxes but still hurt your website. Which would render all your link-building efforts useless.

How does that happen?

If the inbound links you build violate Google Webmaster Guidelines, you’ll get penalized and lose all your progress overnight. That includes paying for links, link building on thin content, building spammy links, etc.

Check Backlink Quality
freepik – www.freepik.com

Other than that…

One of the most common causes for link building penalties are private blog networks (PBNs). A PBN is a group of repurposed websites with high domain authority built on thin content. They’re intended mainly to boost new websites in the SERPs and improve their DA.

So in this part, you’ll learn how to avoid these types of links and focus your outreach on gaining top-quality backlinks. 

Here are three ways to check backlink quality for free:

1- Check Traffic Trends With Semrush

A good inbound link must come from a live website receiving lots of live traffic. That’s how you’ll guarantee that Google trusts it and that it can drive quality visitors to your brand.

Using the free plan on Semrush, you can verify traffic trends for any backlink provider and see how their site is performing.

Traffic Trends Semrush

A domain with a steady amount of traffic shows that the website is legit and is on a continuous growth path.

What’s the biggest red flag here?

You want to look for any significant drops in traffic in the past months or years. This usually means that the original domain owner has dropped their website. And someone else has purchased it and is trying to repurpose it.

2- Check Ranking Keywords On Moz

Content marketing is one of the most legitimate ways for businesses to gain the trust of any search engine. So, any site with a high domain authority must have at least thousands of ranking keywords.

To check that:

Go to Link Explorer, and enter your backlink provider’s link. You’ll get the domain authority of the website as well as the total number of ranking keywords on Google.

Ranking Keywords Moz

As you can see in the example, a website with a domain authority of 40 has more than 11.1k keywords ranking live on Google.

Warning:

A small number of keywords with high DA mean that it’s an old domain being repurposed. That explains why it no longer has many ranking keywords.

3- Check Archives Using WayBack Machine

WayBack Machine is a free online tool that takes snapshots of any live websites on the internet and stores them into a database. Which you can then access by searching for the domain name.

How does that relate to link quality?

A domain with a high PageRank must be at least a few years old with lots of live web pages. Or else, it might be part of a private blog network. So you want to identify any changes in the site structure, design, or content of your link provider. You can easily do that in two simple steps by checking the site’s history or find dead pages.

First, go to WayBack Machine and enter the site link.

From there, you can see how the site has changed since its launch. Go back a few years to see if the website has been fully modified or if it has many dead pages.

For example:

Wayback Machine Web Archives

If you try “operationtechnology.com”, you can see that the domain has been alive for more than a decade. And it’s still owned by the same digital marketing agency.

Houssam Bouchakour is a freelance writer for hire who offers blogging, ghostwriting, and copywriting services to B2C and B2B digital marketing agencies. He has five years of experience crafting top-notch content that demonstrates expertise, boosts search engine visibility, and attracts quality leads. He specializes in a wide variety of online marketing topics — including SEO, SMM, PPC, Email Marketing, Web Analytics, and more. 

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