30+Quality Checks Before Getting Backlinks from a Domain

When optimizing pages or sites for search engines, backlinks have long been integral to the process. In fact, using backlinks to rank pages is how Google claimed its throne. The single most important factor for off-page SEO is still the link juice passed from one page to another.

But backlinks have evolved a lot since their introduction and having tons of links pointing toward your site is no longer a viable option to rank. Starting from the Penguin algorithm update, it’s the quality of the backlinks that counts.

In this article, we’ll explain what backlink quality is, and 30+ backlink quality checks we rigorously perform, and how you can do it too.

Outreachneo 30+ Backlink Quality Checks

What’s Backlink Quality and Why It Matters?

In SEO terms, a quality backlink is a dofollow link from a high-quality website with relevant keywords, usually related to the site it is linking towards. To ensure the highest quality, using relevant keywords within the anchor text is important.

Now link quality matters simply because link quality determines how much link juice is passed to a site. Because using only quantity to rank pages is vulnerable to manipulation. So, even though backlinks are still really important, the focus has shifted to quality from quantity.

30+ Backlink Quality Checks

You need to check for backlink quality both individually and as an overall backlink profile. Without a quality check, you might end up further down in rank rather than improving. Here are three main criteria by which we check for backlink quality.

Critical Domain and Hosting Factors

Backlink quality starts with domain quality. A link from a good domain can help you rank higher than it would from a low-quality domain. Here’s how we ensure domain quality when getting backlinks:

1. No Poor Domain Names

Now what is a poor domain? Well, Google’s John Muller clearly states that domain name doesn’t have to do anything with ranking. However, when a domain name contains characters like hyphens, clearly intended to use keywords in the domain name to rank, you should consider that to be a bad domain. Avoid getting any backlinks from those sites.

2. No Sites Lacking SSL

Although you’ll see some websites without SSL ranking in Google, there are a lot of advantages of having SSL certification. Back in 2014, Google announced that they consider SSL/HTTPS as a ranking signal. Without SSL, a site is not reliable even to its users, let alone Google.

To check for SSL or HTTPS certification, look for the lock icon in the address bar of your browser.

3. Country Rank

As long as they don’t appear as blatant spam, backlinks can be from anywhere. That being said if you want to rank in a specific country, having a backlink from ranking sites in that country is a big deal. It can not only improve your relevancy but also your reliability.

Use Ahrefs’ traffic checker to find these data.

Another way to find this is to change your search settings in Google and set the country manually. Then search the keyword to find out if the site has ranked or not.

4. Only English Language

Language and regional settings matter to Google when ranking. So, when an English site gets backlinks from any other language source, it naturally is suspicious. Also, getting irrelevant traffic won’t do much good to your ranking either.

You can check that inside page source in your browser.

5. No Penalized Domain

Remember when we told you about SEO juice? Well, it turns out that it works both ways. When there’re too many backlinks from penalized domains, for whatever reason, your site will get penalized too. Never get backlinks from domains that got penalties, because penalties follow a domain.

A good way to find if a domain got penalized is to look for any sudden drop in traffic.

6. Avoid Casinos, Gambling, Betting, and Adult Sites

It’s not that getting backlinks from casinos or betting sites will get you penalized immediately. But, due to their questionable method of operation, most of the time, these sites get penalized. Unfortunately, many cheap backlink-selling services use these sites to build backlinks. We avoid them at all costs.

Run the domain through Ahrefs and check if they have linked domains from casinos, gambling or adult sites.

7. DNS

For link farms, it’s quite common to use the same IP address for many sites that bear no inherent quality. it’s just a way they use to harvest backlinks and manipulate Google.

You can easily find this out using any DNS lookup tool like this.

Bare Minimum Core Metrics

Here are the core metrics we check for to make sure that the website has the bare minimum to provide quality backlinks.

8. Number of Referring Domains > 50

This is what we meant when we mentioned quality vs quantity. The more references a website has from different domains, the better chance it has of ranking. So, 50 links from 50 different domains are way better than 100 links from a few domains.

You can use Ahrefs to check the number of referring domains a site has.

You can check this using Moz too.

9. Indexed Page: 10+

To put it simply, you should always want backlinks from pages that have been indexed. Backlinks from unindexed pages can do you no good.

The easiest way to find this is to do the following search in Google: site:site name

10. Organic Traffic: Minimum 100 Per Month

Organic traffic is the number of people that visited the site from Google. If a site has a decent amount of organic traffic, it’s a good indicator that the site is pretty good, in Google’s book at least. So having a backlink from that site will send some of that organic traffic your way as well.

You can find how much organic traffic a site has using tools like Ahrefs or Semrush.

11. Sites with High Authority (DR & DA: 20+)

DR or domain ranking is a metric that assesses a site solely on its backlink profile. On the other hand, DA or domain authority is a ranking score for search engines. Both DA and DR are developed by third-party SEO tools. Therefore, you shouldn’t buy too much into them. However, they provide a good idea of how good a domain is. 

Simply run the site through Ahrefs’ DR checker to find this.

For Domain Authority, you can run it through Moz.

12. Less Outgoing Links 

When a site has too many outgoing links, especially those created in a short period, it is a good indicator that the site has been selling backlinks. Therefore, it is not advisable to get backlinks from them.

You can check this via free tools like Smallseotools.

13. Clean Backlink Profile

If a site doesn’t have a clean backlink profile, using it to create backlinks won’t do much to yours either. To maintain a good backlink profile, you must always use backlinks from relevant sites, as well as steer clear of spammy backlink sellers that use backlinks from sites with little to no DR.

14. Dofollow / Nofollow Ratio

According to Google’s John Muller on Reddit, there’s no dofollow and nofollow ratio that’s been set as the gold standard. However, a higher dofollow link ratio is usually considered to be a testimonial of quality and trust. So, ideally, we maintain a 70:30 ratio of dofollow and nofollow links.

You can check how many dofollow and nofollow links a site has using smallseotools.

15. Spam Score

Spam score is determined by Moz by identifying sites similar to yours based on whether they get penalized or not. A spam score of below 30% is always ideal. Anything above that, getting backlinks from that site isn’t worth much.

You can check spam score of a website Moz.

16. Wild Traffic Swings

A wild traffic swing is the sudden incline or decline of traffic. Search engine optimization takes time. And so, any sudden or quick increase or decrease in traffic indicates that either the site did something suspicious, or something went wrong.

Use Ahrefs site explorer to check for any wild traffic swings.

17. No Manipulated DR or DA

Sites that gained their domain authority by manipulating the algorithm themselves, simply by buying backlinks from selective sites with high DA and DR, are not a good place to build backlinks from. Because, without quality content and with their unnatural link-building practices, they are bound to get penalized, taking you down in the process as well.

A good warning sign you should look for is to check if a site has got a good DR with very few referring domains.

On the other hand, a healthy referring domain and DR ratio should look like this.

Manual Content Review

Here’s how we check the content to make sure it meets our standards for quality backlinking:

18. Content Quality

Quality backlinks come from quality content. We ensure that the content we use to create backlinks, is readable, to the point, and easy to understand.

To check content quality, you can read through recent posts or you can copy and run them through Grammarly.

19. No Thin Content

Some examples of thin content are low-quality and irrelevant blog posts, scraped content, etc. These contents provide little to no value to the audience. Avoid these contents as well as the sites that publish them.

Thin contents provide no value to the reader and are generally used to manipulate search engine algorithms.

20. No Spammy Content

Simply put, texts that have the searched keyword in them but makes no sense, are spammy content. Link farms and low-quality link-building services use this technique to build backlinks.

An easy way to find if the content is spammy or not is to look for excessive use of anchor texts and affiliate links, auto-generated texts, etc.

21. No Link Sellers

Google doesn’t look kindly upon link building. A good backlink is one that’s earned, not bought. So, getting backlinks from link-selling farms, blogs, and comments can drag you down further.

We use links only from relevant, high-quality sources.

An easy way to find out if a site is selling links is to check its external links using free online tools like Smallseotools or Ahrefs. If the external links are non-relevant or way too off-putting to their niche, chances are that they are selling backlinks.

22. No Spammy Author Bio

Some shady link builders use the author bio section to post links. This sneaky way of backlinking, however clever it may sound, will get you penalized surely. We check for this and avoid the site altogether that use these unethical tactics.

23. No Foreign Content

For maximum relevancy, it’s recommended that you do not use any backlinks from content that is written in a foreign language. And even though a backlink from a foreign language content won’t necessarily hurt you, if it’s in a related niche, it won’t do much for your SEO either.

A quick way to check this is to run the site through a link checker and see if they have any irrelevant foreign content either as inbound or outbound link.

24. Niche Relevance

In search engine terms, niche relevance means how related the content is, from one site to another. This relevance is something that Google takes into account when ranking sites based on backlinks.

To find if a topic is covered in a site, use the following search string: site:[website] “topic”

25. Check Image Availability

One of the obvious signs of scammy or low-quality sites that use subpar content to build backlinks is that they put minimal effort into their content. Therefore, most of the time these contents lack image. And even when they do have images, they are often low-quality or irrelevant.

Website Structural Integrity

Website structural integrity is something that’s easy to check if you know what to look for.

26. Copyright Information

Copyright is an integral and essential part of websites to keep their intellectual property rights safe. Often, you’ll see the copyright section missing in rushed-out sites built specifically to sell backlinks. Even if there’s a copyright section, it’s not a well-written one, given little to no effort.

A proper copyright notice should include the author’s name, statement of rights as well as date.

27. Website’s Internal Navigation

If you didn’t know, the right internal linking can boost a site’s SEO. Because interlinks are not for users only, search engines use them too, to crawl through the site, to get an overall idea about the site. We choose websites with good internal navigation, to ensure that you get the maximum SEO juice possible.

Here’s an example of a well-structured navigation layout.

28. No Random Content Categories

Wouldn’t a VPN section on a kitchen appliance’s website look unnatural? In fact, any random category out of the blue is an obvious red flag for link sellers. We check for this and only create backlinks from the most natural-looking sites and content.

29. Clean Anchor Text

Sites that use malicious anchor texts, too much anchor text, etc. are always harmful to you when they give you backlinks. We make sure that the anchor text we use is always clean, by maintaining relevancy and diluting different types of anchor texts together. According to John Mueller, google uses the anchor text to determine the relevancy of the link to the content.

Use Ahrefs anchor report and search for Exact URL to check out all the anchor texts used in a site.

30. Content Publish and Update Frequency

Regular publishing and updating frequency are important because a well-maintained and good-quality blog or site publishes at regular intervals. On the other hand, a sudden rise in a publication prior to handing out backlinks is something those shady link builders do; hence this practice is suspicious to Google.

You can access these data in an XML sitemap.

31. Privacy, About Us, Contact Page

Again, cheap link selling sites, built in a rush often leave out privacy policy, about us, contact us, etc. pages. In fact, anything other than blog posts to push anchor texts is ignored by them. We check for all these to verify a site’s quality.

A poorly written privacy policy page, done with no effort might look like this:

32. 100% Real Blog, No PBN

PBN or private blog network is a group of blogs and sites that don’t do anything other than provide backlinks to other websites. Using PBN, web directories, and free blog links like Web 2, etc. are some of the malicious backlink-building strategies that link farms use.

We guarantee a hundred percent real, human-written, and relevant blog posts to create your backlinks.

33. No Magazine-Type Multi Sites

Multi-niche sites, magazine-type sites, etc. aren’t regarded as authoritative sites by Google. Hence, these too, aren’t good sources for backlinking. To build a quality backlink profile, we always recommend choosing good-quality sites with a focused niche.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the 3 main features of a quality backlink?

The three main features of a quality backlink are natural link text, reputable referring domain, and relevant referring page.

Why are quality backlinks important?

Quality backlinks are important because when done properly, they act as a stamp of authority to search engines.


Any flimsy attempt at backlink building will most likely cause you to get penalized in the long term. Because, without rigorous checking to ensure natural and quality backlinking, getting caught by Google is just a matter of time. So, do your research properly and only opt for the most quality backlinks you can afford.