Backlinks. The backbone of any solid SEO campaign.

But they're not all created equal are they?

And SEO isn't the same as it was a couple years back.

So what makes a good backlink in 2018? And more importantly, are you wasting your time and money on links that aren't really all that much worth getting?

At HumanProofDesigns, we've seen our customers make a few mistakes with links over the years, so we decided to write this post. My goal today is to help you define the perfect backlink so you’re armed with the right knowledge to smash it in your next linkbuilding campaign.

Let's jump right into the meat! But first:

I'll be referencing this Off-Page SEO Guide all through this article. Open it in a new tab and keep it handy so we're all in the same page while we define the perfect backlink.

Here's an overview of what matters:

  1. An Open Pipe
  2. Context and Placement.
  3. Relevance
  4. Referring Domains of linking site/page
  5. Authority
  6. Anchor text
  7. Traffic

Let's have a look at what each one means.

  1. The pipe must be open

This is to refer to something a bit basic: You want the link to be dofollow. Duh, thanks Captn Obvious. Yeah nofollows are cool if they comply with some or all of the following other things, but "the perfect link" is a dofollow. This means it passes link juice, hence the "tap" is open.

  1. Context and Placement

The first thing that we need to take into account is where the link lives. Is it on a comment, on a sidebar, on the footer... or right in the middle of the content?

Nothing beats an editorial backlink. The type of link that's embedded in the content itself like the one above referencing our off-page SEO guide.

And what about context?

The text surrounding the link matters. It helps Google understand what the topic at the other side should be. Who's talking about it. So if you have a page about dog food, you would like ideally to get a link in an article that talks about dog nutrition. That's a good context.

But does it mean it's relevant? Well, sort of but we'd need to look at the whole linking site.

  1. Relevance.

We all know this massive publications that talk about everything and anything under the sun. They have millions of links and pieces of content. You can get a link to your doggy site from a dog related article, and the context will be good but the relevance will be suboptimal.

Getting a link from a dog-centric website however, that's great.

Relevance is defined by two things. The main topics of the site linking to you AND the sites linking to that other site. If a car blog ONLY gets links from education sites, it's obvious that it's an education-centric site about cars. You get mixed relevance (education / automotive) whereas a car blog where the biggest majority of referring domains are other car or automotive sites, will have the highest automotive relevance.

You probably get a clear picture by now: Editorial backlinks on a topic-specific context living on a topic-specific website with industry-related sites linking to it are the way to go.

But, how deep does the rabbit hole go?

  1. Referring Domains of linking site.

There's a concept in SEO called "seed sites". Think of banks, universities, official government agencies, Wikipedia, companies like Apple or magazines like Cosmopolitan which have been around for ages.

The closest your site is to one of those, the better. The more referring domains the site linking to you has, the higher chances to be close to a seed site. Also, the more juice and trust It'll be passing per se.

So what are we looking for? A lot of RDs.

But then...

  1. Who's your daddy?

Who is linking to you? Is it a random site or a well known, established online entity?

It's not only about the Referring Domains or age. Brand names or recognized authorities carry a lot of weight. Imagine having a site about dogs and getting a link from a brand like Purina, or WWF.

It carries a LOT more Authority than hundreds of links from other random dog sites. It passes so much trust, that one single link can move you to heavens. Kind of, anyway.

This is to say: The Authority of the site linking to you matters. A LOT. Forget metrics, I'm talking about telling your uncle "XYZ site talks about us" and he knows who XYZ is even tho he's internet impaired. That's authority there for you.

  1. Anchor text

"Oh boy, here we go again" it's what I think most of the time when I read random generalizations about anchor text.

The thing is, no anchor is "perfect". You need a certain % of each type based on what Google is already considering "an ideal profile".

However, since we're trying to define "the perfect backlink", we'll think it's just 1 you're getting.

In this scenario, you want a keyword rich anchor. But hey, you may as well get a brand anchor. And an anchor that's a bit natural, so it gets clicks and gets you visitors (which will bring us to our next section: Traffic. But let's not overtake ourselves. Bad pun, I know)

Personally, my favorite type of anchor is something like "check this article about [keyword] at [brand name] to learn more about [topic, bit more keywords]" but that's not too easy to get.

It includes a few keywords, your brand name, it's hard to ever repeat it and it's a call to action. It'll get you clicks. It'll get you brand awareness. It'll get you a keyword rich anchor. It's pure beauty.

  1. Traffic

So as you've probably figured out already, I care about traffic-funneling links. A lot. And this is because it's what makes you money. It's what gets people in your list.

It's what justifies MORE links. Traffic.

So the perfect link should ideally live on a piece of content that gets a lot of hits (either it's pushed to an email list, or ranks for nice keywords, or it's shared on social media) so some of that traffic gets funneled to your site with all the good things that come to it.

To sum it up, here's the Tinder bio of "The Perfect Link"

Dofollow, contextual.

Surrounded by topic-relevant text. I live on an authoritarian website. Trust me, I have tons of referring domains. I’m quite popular in the neighborhood tbh.

I've got the traffic. Want some?

I want you to put your keywords on me. Let me have your brand name, baby ;)

If you see a link like this.. well, you better swipe right boy!

Hold on. Where do you actually find links like this???

Well, here’s a few options.

Get links from massive publications via outreach, creating a proper link-worthy piece of content (such a unique tool) or… build a PBN based on aged domains grabbed from trusted (gone) entities with tons of referring domains.

Problem with the latter is usually the traffic. You’d need to do keyword research for your PBNs themselves to get some.

Problem with the first one is usually the anchor text and dofollow policy.

There’s niche edits (you contact a site owner, ask them to place a link on an existing piece of content and you fork some moolah to smoothen the labor-intensive process for the owner.) but it’s hard to get those on big publications.

But from all options, your highest chances come from creating a proper mind-blowing piece of content and being VERY good at outreach and negotiation.

That might land you the perfect link.

To your success,

Alejandro Meyerhans