Key Characteristics of Quality Backlinks in 2024

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By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Must-Haves for High-Quality Backlinks: Achieving a high-quality backlink requires a dofollow tag, originating from a strong and topically relevant domain, and being the first link from that domain. These attributes ensure the link passes equity, gains trust, and aligns with your niche.
Enhancing Backlink Quality: Secondary characteristics like relevant anchor text, traffic from the linking domain, strategic placement on the page, and the age of the link further boost a backlink’s value but are not mandatory.
Effective Backlink Acquisition: Focus on creating valuable content that naturally attracts links, converting online mentions into backlinks, engaging with journalists for authoritative links, and reclaiming any lost links to maintain link equity.

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4 Primary Characteristics of High-Quality Backlinks

The term ‘high-quality backlink’ often lacks a clear definition, yet understanding what constitutes such a link is vital given its importance in search rankings.

To clarify, I’ve categorized the characteristics of quality backlinks into Primary (must-have attributes) and Secondary (nice-to-have features).

It’s critical to note that a backlink needs all Primary attributes to be considered high-quality; missing any disqualifies it. Let’s dive into these indispensable attributes.

Dofollow Tag

The Dofollow tag signals search engines to follow a link and pass on link equity (“link juice”) to the targeted page.

While other tags like Nofollow, Sponsored, and UGC tell search engines not to pass on link equity—with Nofollow even instructing to ignore the link—links with these tags still hold value, especially from trusted domains.

Domain Strength

Quality inbound links must originate from sources trusted by search engines. These are domains frequently referenced by many relevant sites.

SEO tools use metrics like DR (Domain Rating) and DA (Domain Authority) to quantify a domain’s trustworthiness.

And, despite their imperfections, these metrics are all we have so I’m going to use them.

These metrics, which range from 1-100, differ in their calculation methods, leading to significant variances.

For example, my website at the time of writing this article is DR 39 and DA 20. A pretty significant gap.

To sum up, a backlink from a domain with DR50+ or DA 35+ is considered high-quality in my book.

This sets a high bar, but for high-quality backlinks, it’s imperative to aim for the cream of the crop.

Topical Relevance

Topical relevance is crucial both domain-wide and page-wide, but here we’ll focus on the domain-wide scale.

High-quality backlinks should ideally come from domains within the same niche or industry.

There’s an exception for high-authority news sites, which cover various topics and don’t fit into a single category.

However, a backlink from such domains is only considered high-quality if it meets page-wide topical relevance criteria.


Uniqueness is a straightforward, essential criterion meaning that quality links are those that are the first links a referring domain sends your way.

Subsequent links from the same domain won’t have the same impact as the very first one.

4 Secondary Characteristics of Quality Backlinks

These characteristics are essentially the icing on the cake.

They may vary in optimization but are still very much acceptable.

In fact, such variations are desirable to ensure your backlink profile is varied.

Too many similar links can alert Google’s algorithm.

Google actively looks for sites that build links through unsanctioned methods like paid insertions, guest posts, and link exchanges.

Anchor Text

Optimized anchor text should describe the linked page with relevant keywords, avoiding ‘keyword stuffing’.

Anchor texts can be non-descriptive (e.g., ‘here’) or branded (e.g., ‘Apple’ for the Apple company).

Links can also be naked URLs, and that’s perfectly acceptable.


Having a backlink from a high-traffic domain is a sign of trustworthiness and authority.

If the page hosting the backlink also has traffic, visitors might click through to your site, boosting your own traffic.


This aspect concerns the backlink’s location on the page.

The SEO community generally believes that links at the top of a page carry more weight with Google than those at the bottom.

However, don’t fret too much over this.

It’s most important that the backlink is within the main body of content.

Link Age

The age of a backlink is a nuanced quality factor.

Older backlinks are preferable, as they suggest the linked content has been valuable over a long period.

A long-standing backlink from a major site acts as a strong endorsement, and search engines take note.

While it’s beneficial to have such backlinks, remember, you can’t control their age, so it’s not worth stressing over.

4 Safest Ways of Acquiring Them

Google values backlinks highly for SERP rankings, hence their preference for organic link building.

Yet, in reality, link building is a common service offered by SEO agencies, with clients willing to pay for impactful links like those discussed here.

However, be cautious: Google might ignore or penalize your site for unnatural link building.

Bad link building leaves ‘footprints’ that Google’s algorithms, backed by patented pattern recognition and data analysis technologies, can detect.

Before considering purchasing links, try these legitimate and effective tactics.

Often, these are the same initial strategies used by agencies because they genuinely work.

Linkable Assets

Simply put, linkable assets are content pieces that naturally attract backlinks due to their significant value, insights, or utility.

This is my favorite link building method.

This approach has earned me powerful backlinks from industry leaders like Neil Patel (DR 91) and Rock Content (DR 86).

It involves producing high-quality content and allowing it to accumulate backlinks over the years.

While ‘only’ producing unique and insightful content isn’t easy, it’s certainly preferable to reaching out to countless websites begging for links or hiring cheap agencies.

Investing time and resources into your content is a wise decision.

Linkable assets include:

  • Statistical Posts
  • Infographics
  • Tools and Calculators
  • Organic Research and Data
  • Case Studies and Research Papers
  • Templates and Checklists

Concrete examples of linkable assets are:

  • For a Financial Advisory Firm: “Interactive Retirement Savings Calculator”
  • For a Health Clinic Specializing in Sports Injuries: “Database of Sports Injury Recovery Times and Rehabilitation Exercises”
  • For an Online Education Platform: “Interactive Timeline of Computer Science Breakthroughs”

Turning Mentions into Links

This strategy is very straightforward.

If you’re mentioned online, especially positively, some mentions might not include a link.

Simply reach out and ask for a link. Often, site owners are happy to comply.

If not, it’s still worth a shot.

Serving as a Resource to Journalists

Platforms exist solely to connect journalists with experts across various fields.

Journalists seek expert opinions for their articles, usually offering a backlink to your chosen site from powerful news domains.

Despite increased competition since ChatGPT’s rise, testing this method is still worthwhile.

Don’t be discouraged by initial failures; persistence can pay off.

Platforms facilitating this include:

  • HARO
  • Muck Rack
  • SourceBottle
  • Qwoted
  • Terkel

Reclaiming Lost Links

Using tools like Semrush, you’ll sometimes notice lost links.

Links can disappear for various reasons, such as site closures, content updates, or page deletions.

Losing a powerful link is disappointing, but link reclamation efforts can be fruitful.

Politely inquire about the missing link. If the removal was accidental, there’s a good chance it will be restored.

If the link was removed intentionally, thank them for their time and move on.

Lost links aren’t worth straining relationships over.