To succeed in SEO, your website needs high quality backlinks. No matter how good your content is, the truth is that backlinks are a huge ranking signal. Without them, you can’t easily rank in search engine results and beat the competition. And there is one type of link that everyone wants: high-authority backlinks.
But what does that even mean in terms of link building? And how can you know if a link is of high authority? Having helped our clients add over $27.6M in additional revenue from SEO, we’ll show you what these links are, what they are not and how you can build them.
What are high authority backlinks?
High authority backlinks are links that come from valuable websites. These links are placed on websites with high domain rating or authority (DR or DA), have been around for a long period of time and have high quality content.
A backlink from a high authority website means much more for your SEO performance compared to a relatively new website with low authority. When doing outreach and link building, you want to target high authority websites primarily.
Where “authority” comes from
The concept of authority or domain authority comes from Moz, one of the most established SEO tools in the industry. They came up with the concept of DA to evaluate websites and their SEO performance. A DA is a number from 0 to 100 – the higher the value, the better the website and the more desirable it is to get a backlink from it.
There are many factors influencing DA and Moz never revealed them. Some of them include:
- How old the website is
- How quality the content is
- How many pages from that website are ranking in the top search results
- How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to that website
- And many others.
As Moz openly states, their DA is not a ranking factor and it does not have an effect on search engine results. In other words, a website with a DA of 60 will not have an easier time ranking for a keyword compared to one with a DA of 30. So, it is just one of the metrics link builders can use to assess the quality of a target website.
Over time, Moz stopped being used as the leading SEO tool. Nowadays, Ahrefs has the largest market presence and their domain rating (DR) became the number one metric that bloggers and link builders use for evaluating websites.
One website could have completely different DA and DR values, so do not let that confuse you. For example, LeadQuizzes.com has a DA of 50 and a DR of 75.
You can check the DA through Moz for free by using their domain authority checker. For Ahrefs, you can use their Website Authority Checker.
Why high authority backlinks matter
While neither Moz nor Ahrefs reveal how they get to their website metrics, one thing is for certain. Websites with higher DA and DR have been around for longer, have better quality content and more referring domains and backlinks. In other words, the higher the authority of a website, the more desirable it is to have a backlink from that website to yours.
When comparing websites you want to reach out to and get a link from, you’ll want to target those with higher authority and rating. Links from those websites have a tendency to help you out more in growing your own traffic and improving your rankings.
However, do not use domain authority as your only criterion when evaluating websites.
The danger with domain authority
There is a certain issue with high authority backlinks. Because you can put a numerical value on links (in the form of DA and DR), you can be swayed into thinking that anything with a high value is a good link. In reality, many link builders can offer you links that seem to be of high authority, but in reality, these links can have little value.
One prime example is PBNs. These are links with artificially inflated domain authority. Despite their thin content that has low value, these websites have a high DA and DR thanks to manipulation.
Getting a link from a PBN may seem impressive at first because of the high authority. But once you look into the traffic these websites get and the quality of the content, you probably will not be impressed.
Then there is the context and relevance. For example, you have a CRM software website and you get a link from a fashion retailer website with a DR of 81. In theory, this is a great link because of the high authority. But in reality, your link is placed on a website that has little relevance to your website or your target audience.
Similarly, most news sites (such as Forbes, the New York Times) have high authority but links from these websites won’t always be useful for your website.
To sum up, it’s not enough for a backlink just to have a high domain rating and authority. You need to also check for relevance, context, traffic and overall quality of the website.
How to get high authority backlinks
Backlinks from high authority sites are valuable and can help you increase your search engine performance. But how do you go about getting them? Here are some popular tactics that work.
One of the easiest ways to determine which high authority backlinks to get is to take a look at the competition. Just use a tool such as Ahrefs to evaluate a competitor’s backlink profile. Simply load up a URL and click on the “backlinks” tab to see what links they have pointing to that website. Then sort them according to domain rating and voila.
As we’ve written recently, competitor backlinks are low-hanging fruit because they are easy to research and replicate. Here is the process you can follow:
- Research a competitor website and find backlinks pointing to them
- Find relevant contacts on those websites (with a tool such as Hunter or by reaching out through platforms liked LinkedIn)
- Reach out and ask for a link
Since they already linked to a competitor, there is a higher chance that they will link to you too. Your chances increase if you have valuable content and have something of value in return (e.g. another backlink).
As the name suggests, link insertions happen when someone inserts a link into an existing piece of content to a page on your website. This is one of the most common methods for building high authority backlinks and many agencies and freelancers use it, including us.
It works like this:
- You find a high authority website you want a link from
- You choose a page with context relevant to your website, product and target audience
- You request a link from that website to yours, asking the editor to insert your link with a certain anchor text
- The editor requests something in return – usually another backlink
When done right, this is an incredibly effective link building method. The most important factors are the relevance of the target page and the context around the link you insert.
Guest blogging is one of the oldest tricks in the digital marketing book. The premise is simple: you write a guest post for a target website. You get a backlink to your website and they get high-quality content in return. Guest posts can be used to obtain high quality links, as well as capture referring traffic – when they are done right.
To find guest post opportunities, simply type in your desired industry in a Google search, combined with the phrase “write for us”. This will give you a list of targets you can pitch. You can then analyze these websites one by one in Ahrefs, Semrush or Moz to find the ones that are of high authority.
The biggest differentiator with guest posts is pitching the right topic to the editors who decide on what is accepted. Do some research about the website, the topics they usually cover, the angles they prefer and you should come up with a relevant topic suggestion.
Many link builders are not fans of guest posting because…
- It takes a lot of time to get a backlink, usually weeks and sometimes months
- Editors have the right to change your content and remove your link
- No one guarantees your guest post won’t be changed or removed months down the line
- The target website can change your links to nofollow
Having said that, the right guest post on the right website can bring long-term benefits for your SEO strategy.
Broken link building
One way to get high authority links for your own website is to steal broken links from competitors. Nowadays, finding these opportunities is easier than ever, thanks to tools such as Ahrefs. In your Ahrefs dashboard, load up a competitor website and click on “broken links”. This will show you all the websites that once pointed to a competitor website but the link is no longer live.
Links can get broken for various reasons. Sometimes, entire content pages get rewritten, the editor changes a paragraph or there is a technical error. In any case, a page once had a link and now it no longer has it. And since that website has already been linked to a competitor before, there is a good chance they will link to your website too.
Simply sort the broken links according to domain rating to find the ones with the highest domain rating. Then it’s all about finding the right person on that website (webmaster, editor, content marketing manager) and reaching out to them, asking to use your link instead of the broken one.
Broken external links are not good for technical SEO so any website owner will be happy to find out that there is an error on their page. And since you’re offering a handy solution, they just might add your link to their web page instead.
This link building strategy has been around for a good while. HARO (short for Help a Reporter Out) is a journalist platform where two sides come together. On the one hand, there are journalists looking for a quote for their next article. On the other hand, there are sources who contribute quotes and get a link in return from the journalist’s next piece of content. You want to apply to become a source.
We’ve explained the ins and outs of HARO link building on our blog before. It can be an effective strategy under a few conditions.
- You need to be aware that only a portion of your pitches will get accepted
- Not all queries will have a website placement next to them (so you can check where you can get a link in upcoming roundups or articles)
- There are plenty of anonymous queries from journalists who do not want to reveal their websites, so it can be a hit or a miss
- There are not always relevant queries where you can submit a pitch and contribute your opinion
- It can take weeks for your links to go live
- You are competing against thousands of other link builders, many of whom use AI to craft their pitches
While it has its downsides, HARO is still a relatively good way to build links from high domain authority websites.
Hire an agency to build the links for you
Even if you do all of these methods right, there is a chance you can get a backlink from PBNs or low quality websites. And with the next Google algorithm update, you can kiss your rankings and traffic goodbye. One way to alleviate that risk is to hire a link building agency to do the work for you.
At ReportCard, we make sure to keep everything in mind when choosing target websites for your links. We consider:
- The domain rating and authority of the website
- Its organic traffic
- Its relevance to your industry and niche
- Your anchor text and target link
- The placement of your link on the target page for the best user experience
This way, we ensure that no black-hat SEO strategy is used and that you don’t get penalized for the links we build for you. We use link exchanges and link insertions and make sure you get high quality, dofollow links for your website.
That way, you get higher rankings, and more traffic for your website, more sales and you can grow your own domain authority through the inbound links we build for you.
Earning high authority backlinks can help you rank well in the SERPs, grow your organic traffic and improve your overall search engine optimization efforts. While it may sound difficult, there are many different methods you can employ to earn these types of backlinks.
And if you’re not sure which one to choose, we can help. Book a call with us so we can show you how we can build high quality links for your website. Genuine links from genuine, top-ranking websites, through white-hat link building methods that won’t get your website in trouble.
Get in touch today to get started!