How to Determine If a Website is a Good Link Building Opportunity

No matter whether  you’re a professional link builder or just a business owner trying to improve your website’s performance in Google, you have probably had some problems with determining the quality of a website you considered as an opportunity to get a link to.

That is quite understandable as there are countless websites that look good but lack quality, and building links to them can be actually harmful, let alone worthless.

Why should you only consider quality websites when building links?

Answering this question is really simple:
That’s because Google had big trouble with spammers exploiting their search engine’s flaws in the past, so now they are very suspicious about every single backlink as it is (and will be for years to come) the most important factor in their ranking algorithm.

So, right now, to rank in Google, you not only have to optimize your website and post great content on a regular basis, but you also have to actively build links from authoritative websites (unless your website is such a great resource that authoritative websites link to it on their own, but let’s be frank – only a tiny fraction of websites are) because that’s the way of saying “Hey, this is a good one!” that Googlebots understand. And the more authoritative the website saying that is, the more likely they are to consider changes in SERP’s.

The opposite is also true.

What makes a website good for link building?

There are hundreds of factors that determine whether a website is a pure gold or sewage. To cover them all in one article would be problematic.

Checking all the factors when prospecting for link building would be even more challenging. That’s why I’ve put together a list of few of the most important indicators of website’s quality that are quick and easy to check. You can use it as a kind of checklist when prospecting.


Let’s admit it:
People nowadays are more visually-oriented than ever, so a website that wants to be successful has to appeal to the user.
Professional design, matching colours, consistency in style and high-quality images are a must, and navigating the site should be easy, logical and intuitive.

This clearly is not a ranking factor of any kind, but usually a good looking website means that somebody cares about it and upgrades it constantly (because trends in website design also change). Sure, there are some really ugly websites that have to be considered authoritative (take Craigslist as an example), but in most cases bad graphics means bad website. When you see something like this below, just run away as fast as you can.


Before diving deeper into an analysis of a certain website, it would be good to check if it’s relevant enough to your website to even consider it as an opportunity.

Why? Because building a backlink from a great website that has nothing to do with the topic of your website can be quite disastrous. Just imagine a link from a travel blog to a website about pest control. That wouldn’t make much sense, would it?

Google wants to provide the best user experience while searching, so it will frown heavily upon links that need lots of imagination (which googlebots lack) to explain their very existence.


Content is the king, right?

And it should be the very first thing you check on a newly discovered website (but in reality, even the best content can repel user if served in the bad design or poorly formatted).

Getting a quick feeling about website’s quality when it comes to content may be a bit hard only if you don’t know the niche well. But even if you do, it may be good to check a few things.

First things first: is the topic clearly stated? If it is, then are posts relevant to it? Are they an extensive and complete approach on it? Also, are they engaging, interesting, unique and well written (without any grammatical and logical mistakes) Are they longer than 500 words?

It’s sometimes hard to judge, but really bad websites and blogs have a certain feeling to them.

Noteworthy, content should go in pair with nice images. The more (well optimised) graphic content on the website the better.

Community & Presence in Social Media

One and only definitive factor of a website’s popularity will always be the number of devoted users, engaging with content and themselves. Take a close look on comments (but not only on their number!) and if a website has a forum with active users, then that’s a strong premise that it’s really worth your time.

Sometimes those interactions are not so apparent, but just a quick glance of predicted traffic can give you some perspective about user engagement.

Currently, a great part of user interactions around a website will take place on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram. It’s strongly advised to check those to determine if and how the website in question interacts with it’s users.

Social activity of admins, especially contests, is a good indicator of website’s quality.

Constant Maintenance & Contact Info Availability

This one’s simple – website that’s high quality is something to be proud of, so finding a contact data (the more the better – the best would be if you can call them) and rich “about” section should be really easy.

By maintenance, I mean replying to queries and interacting with users – replying to comments, asking their publicity about their needs and doing guest posts. Recent updates are obligatory for a website to pass this requirement.


Hey, let’s ask Google!

If you determine the website’s topic, you should have no problem finding a few niche-related keywords. You can search for those, and learn the position of a said website in SERP’s

Must I say the higher the better?

Technical On-page Issues

SEO optimisation, as important as it is, however, cannot be the main (or even one of more important) factor you’ll base your judgement on. There are some really good, trustworthy websites that are not so well optimised, and there are also spammy sites that are optimised quite well, so treat this paragraph’s contents as a method for an additional check. In case you’re not 100% sure.

There are lots of technical issues that can ruin website’s reception by Google, even if it’s somehow quite good in the eyes of users. For example: sleazy URL structure, chaotic usage of headlines and lots of broken links.

If these things are in check, most of the really complicated issues should be alright also.

Very important factor that’s easy to miss is website’s weight and loading time – the lower the better in this case, obviously, but again – it’s not really meaningful without knowledge of other aspects that make a quality website.

Useful tools

There are many tools and browser extensions that can be helpful in the process of determining website’s value. Below, I have mentioned a few that I find helpful and explained how they work exactly.


    Seoquake is a nice, free tool that allows you for a quick on-page analysis of any webpage. It will help you discover problems with optimisation mentioned in “Technical On-page Issues” section and even give you some helpful advice on fixing them.
    It comes as a handy extension that adds analysis options to your right-click context menu in chrome.


    Impactana is a useful extension for measuring the social impact of a particular piece of content, and it’s very good at what it does. With Impactana’s help, you’ll be able to identify websites that have numerous audiences and/or online social interactions in no time!
    I highly recommend installing their toolbar – it makes things super easy.


    Ahrefs’s Site Explorer is pretty simple, yet powerful tool that provides you with tons of useful data about ANY website.
    You should pay special attention to organic traffic section as it estimates the number of visits on site (as you already know, that’s a good way to measure quality). A number of referring pages and domains is another important metric, as well as inbound links – this may actually save you a lot of time and effort if there’s a link from a website with high authority.
    Now go and explore any website for free.


    I have discovered Similarweb only recently, and I fell in love with it instantly.

    It has similar features to Ahrefs, but I somehow find it’s traffic estimations more accurate. It provides rankings (worldwide, country and category – but don’t believe it blindly) and you can check the percentage of traffic by source – search engine, referral, social media etc.

    As with many other mentioned tools, it comes as an online tool or browser extension.


    It’s a tiny-tiny tool used to discover broken links. As you may have heard: the less of these, the better for the website.


    Copyscape is my personal choice when it comes to checking uniqueness of content on any given website, but in reality any similar tool should do it’s job.


    Mozbar is a pretty essential tool because of two things: page authority and domain authority metrics it displays. It’s quite complicated, but explaining it in a nutshell would be: they tell you how high website could potentially get in Google SERP’s.


    Searchmetrics is a huge SEO platform with options and features so numerous, that I would need to write another post exclusively about it, just to give you a glimpse of its capabilities. Let’s just say it provides insane amounts of useful data about visibility, keywords and rankings. Professionals should consider it especially.


Indicators of website’s quality are various and numerous, and to always check them all would be a fool’s errand. However, if you try to remember things stated above, it should be easier for you to judge quickly and invest your time only in best link opportunities.

Remember that websites are made for people, and you’re people too, so, (besides following the indicators you just learned about) listen to your inner critic.

  • 12 November 2015

See all articles by Piotr Mikulski

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