Good link, bad link – settling the debate.

The digital world is a peculiar one; after all, where else would your Granny’s blog about her bingo obsession have the potential to be seen as authoritative as a Cosmo article? Imagine Granny’s site boasting a high domain authority (DA), not because of her intense analysis of bingo patterns and genuine quality content, but because she’s splurged on some high DA links. Sounds like bulls**t? Sit tight, it’s more common than you’d think.

Now, let’s get one thing straight. We’re not here to judge Granny. She’s brilliant. But just because she’s potentially become a DA mogul doesn’t make her site relevant to your business, or, let’s be real, most businesses.

This, dear reader, is where the whole murky world of good and bad links emerges. So, let’s dive in and try to make this a bit clearer.

Domain Authority: A Useful Myth

The Domain Authority metric, popularised by SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz and SemRush, measures the perceived strength or “authority” of a website. While it sounds like something you’d want (who doesn’t like authority, right?), it’s not the be all and end all of SEO. Why? Google has recently come out and said it doesn’t use SEO tool scores for ranking. Not Domain Authority, not spam scores, nada.

Marketing managers worldwide are shaking in their boots. But as quoted from our friends at Search Engine Land: “Google doesn’t use scores from some of its own tools (e.g., Lighthouse) for ranking.”

Recently Google’s John Mueller laid it down straight in the #AskGooglebot video. For those who missed it, he stated, “No, Google does not use scores from third-party SEO tools or services. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about a website’s authority or a rating about spamminess, Google doesn’t use these scores at all.”

 

 

So, if Granny’s site is rocking a high DA because of those backlinks she paid for, it doesn’t really mean it’s a site Google deems authoritative or relevant.

The Real Markers of a Quality Link

The obvious question is, what makes a good link?

  1. Relevance: If you’re selling sports equipment and get a link from a reputable sports blog, that’s gold. But if you’re getting one from Granny’s bingo site, not so much. Even though her domain is “really good”.
  2. Trustworthiness: Is the linking site credible? Do they offer valuable content or just churn out links?
  3. Traffic & Engagement: High engagement on a site can be a good indicator of its quality. Google loves websites that users love.
  4. Link Position: If your link is buried deep in a site’s footer, it’s not as valuable as one in the main content area.
  5. Diversity: Are your backlinks diverse, coming from various domains and sources? Or are they all just from Granny’s numerous dodgy bingo sites?

Now, while Google has clearly said it doesn’t use third-party tool scores for ranking, Mueller did mention these scores might be useful. “They could help with the next steps, or perhaps even qualify the work that was done. Knowing how a score comes to be is critical in determining whether it makes sense for you.” The idea is not to dismiss these scores altogether but to use them wisely.

Final Thoughts

Like all myths, the ones surrounding link building have a kernel of truth but can often mislead. It’s not about chasing after high DA links blindly. It’s about understanding what makes a link valuable to your audience and, consequently, to Google. It’s the kind of common sense your granny might applaud, right after she’s done with her bingo game.

So, next time you’re on the hunt for links or evaluating the ones you have, ask yourself: “Is this link genuinely beneficial, or is it just a high DA mirage?” And remember, while Granny’s love for bingo might be endless, her website’s authority in the vast SEO world might just be an illusion. So, don’t fall for the DA trap; instead, play your SEO cards right and build a genuinely authoritative and relevant site. After all, that’s the real game.

 

 

Sophie Crosby

Head of Content (UK & ES) at Minty.

CIM qualified. Brand and content nerd. Cat lover and full time ice cream enthusiast.
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