How to Understand a Backlink Profile

— November 29, 2016

Understanding a backlink profile can be very difficult for a lot of people, especially merchants and online business owners. Not all links are created equal and in most cases, not even close to the same value. In this article, we will go through the normal structure of a link profile, and discuss the most common popular links.

Low-Quality Directory Links

When you are at the top of Google, you might notice a lot of new links pointing to you, which you do not want or request. These links could be directory links from different countries and they tend to look very ‘spammy’ in nature. Do not fear! These links do not count for anything and Google understands that you cannot control them. Here are a couple popular directory links “spam.”


These rarely provide Google, or users for that matter, any beneficial information, and contain a bunch of links to popular businesses or results in Google. They get these placements by crawling the Internet, using a search engine, and indexing you – very similar to an Google has come outright and said that these links will not hurt you as you have no control over them. These are good to disavow if you are superstitious, but really don’t affect you.

Natural White Hat Links from Low DA

When you are at the top for highly sought after phrases, people can link to you naturally. They might like your information, your products or your company. Sometimes, people will want to link to something highly ranked for a particular keyword phrase. This is how Wikipedia obtains so many links. Do not fear – these are good – they just don’t pass a lot of juice. Here is a good example:


These should not be disavowed and can be a good addition to any healthy backlink profile, even if they abuse anchor text or are low quality. Google doesn’t want to just see extremely high-quality links. They want to see some dirt in your backlink profile. Otherwise, it doesn’t look natural, or professional in our opinion.

Forum and Bookmarking Sites

A lot of people discuss different topics on forums and you can receive links from Bookmarking sites, as well. These are natural and although the forums and bookmarking sites link out to many websites, these are generally fine to have in the links profile. Are they going to help you rank or give value to your pages? Most likely not, but they are a natural part of any healthy backlink profile. Here is an example:


In my opinion, I wouldn’t spend any time building these links or trying to obtain them as we haven’t seen them produce any positive value to a link profile.

High Quality “no-follow” Links

Having rel=”nofollow” links are very important for a link profile. These are links that you get from press releases, or from having good editorial content out there. This gives you “no-follow” links in your backlink profile through author bios. They can help show the quality of a profile and Google does crawl them. Do not believe us? Google Webmaster Tools shows those links in their “links to your site.” Why would Google not say they are there if they do not value them? Will it give you value and help you rank by itself? Most likely no, but having a profile with just do-follow links isn’t the best strategy. In our expert opinion, having 10% no-follow links is the best SEO practice.

Affiliate Links (eCommerce)

In the eCommerce world, you get a lot of affiliate links if you run affiliate programs, but are these links helping? The answer is most likely no, especially if you have a lot from one source. Having a lot of links are great, but you need a lot of referring domains as well. If you do not have referring domains, you will surely not see as much of an SEO gain. Having an affiliate program is great from a business standpoint, but if you expect it to pass your SEO value, you might be disappointed. Also, the majority of affiliate marketers will say that the links help SEO wise, but in our experience, they don’t. Affiliate, like directories, link out to many sources, therefore making them count for less in Google’s eyes.

High Quality Do-Follow Links

These are the bread and butter of a good organic ranking gain. Having high quality do-follow links are the backbone of every single campaign. You want the sites to have a high keyword relevance to you. For example, if you sell “black magic,” you want sites that have keywords like “black magic” on it or have similar industry keywords. Another example – if you sell automotive parts online, you want websites to link to you who discuss automotive parts or automotive in general. This is why sites like Forbes, Techcrunch and Businessinsider are great, but they do not provide much value from a keyword relevance standpoint because they are diluted with the amount of keywords that they cover. There are many ways that you can accomplish getting high quality do-follow links, like editorial content, linking baiting content with your content, guestographics, and other SEO tactics. The goal is that you want to have three items associated with a do-follow link:

  1. You want that link to have people sharing it on social media.
  2. You want that link to have user generated content, aka comments, on it.
  3. You want other people to link to that link.

Having those three items will create ultra high quality links. Here is an article where we discuss different link tactics you haven’t thought of. You can also check out our ultimate SEO guide which shows a bunch of unique link building tactics. Here is an example of a juicy do follow link:


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Author: Ronald Dod

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