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How to choose websites for quality link building

Guest posting is the most popular link type, and it is rightfully considered one of the most effective. It consists in publishing an article with a link to your site on someone else’s web resource. The resource owner can do it for free due to the quality of your content or, in most cases, for money.

Unfortunately, not all websites can pass useful link juice to pimp our site. Moreover, there are sites with a bad reputation in search engines. Hence, numerous links from these web resources can pessimize your site’s ranking.

More often than not, Google simply won’t count such a link, and you won’t get anything but wasted money and time.

Therefore, you must act seriously and responsibly when choosing sites for links

Important note: It is impossible to define an exact criterion based on which you can immediately say “we take it” or “we don’t take it.” It is necessary to analyze the TOP regularly. This guide talks only about characteristics, while everyone has to determine exact numbers themselves. The SERP situation changes constantly, and there are different approaches and strategies to consider.

In this guide, I am going to tell you about the main characteristics you should pay attention to when selecting sites. It is almost an internal instruction in our team. So, you can share this guide with your newbies too.

During my life, my team and I have built many links worth millions of dollars. Therefore, these characteristics were chosen based on a large data selection and personal experience.

My selection criteria

  1. Ref. domains/Linked domains ratio. The numbers should be equal, or there should be fewer linked domains. A ratio higher than 1/3 is not recommended, but there are exceptions. Moreover, you should evaluate incoming DoFollow links, not NoFollow.
  2. TrustRank. It is Majestic’s CF and TF metric. To find it out, you should simply divide CF by TF. To determine the average value, you should take the GP-site of top competitor sites and calculate their values. The optimal value is considered to be <2, but do not forget that there may be exceptions in various niches. 
  3. The number of Class C subnets. You can often find good websites on selected Class C subnets. However, there may be exceptions. It is good when a site has 60-70% of links from Class C subnets. Use the Majestic tool to find out this number. Many people wrongly underestimate this indicator. 
  4. Number of indexed pages. The number of pages in an index should correspond to the age of a website. New sites may have few pages in the index, and it is normal. If websites are old and have many visible pages, but a few of them are indexed, most likely, it is junk. This is an insignificant criterion that does not reflect the whole essence. The minimum threshold is 100-150 indexed pages, yet again, we should check out other criteria, such as the website topic, age, number of links, traffic, etc.
  5. One-page traffic to total site traffic ratio in percentages. Organic traffic is one of the most popular metrics to consider when choosing a site. However, in most cases, it is only one page that makes it to the top and, therefore, collects traffic, while other pages are junk. You should pay attention to it. The limit value is 60%, that is, if one page of a website collects more than 60% of traffic, you should take a closer look at this site.
  6. Traffic cost (CPC) according to Ahrefs. Many sites are created for junk keywords (network, Instagram, etc.). They do not bring any value to us. They boost quickly and are potentially dangerous because they are created to sell links. You can gain little or no juice at all from such sites. However, there may be exceptions, for example, if the site is ranked by the thematic keywords you need. Or if it is a site about nuclear physics since there is no semantics about nuclear physics in the CPC principle — nobody buys nuclear physics ads. Again, it happens that such sites have really good links.
  7. Organic traffic + ref. domains ratio. The traffic amount does not affect link juice transmission. There may be little traffic because sites dedicated to nuclear physics are not popular. However, if we see that a topic is very popular, and a site has little traffic but many links, we need to take a closer look at it.
  8. Anchor list. It should be natural: brand name, naked URL, no spam anchors, and diversity.
  9. Topics based on Majestic. Majestic is good at showing the site topic by evaluating its external links. You should try to get links from thematic sites.
  10. Traffic and keywords dynamics. YOU SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL with sites that have traffic and keywords fluctuations as well as with web resources showing traffic and keywords drops in recent months! They may be sanctioned or have some other problems. However, there are cases when sites suddenly lose some valuable keywords, which is not a big problem.
  11. Sponsored content or page for selling links. You should not publish your content on sites that mark links as sponsored or advertising or those having a page about selling links.
  12. Evaluation of sites to which the site refers. A man is known by the company he keeps. This well-known saying also works in link building. If a site links to everything, such as casino, essay, CBD, adult, gun, and others, you should consider that in a few months, the number of its linked domains may exceed the number of quality referring DoFollow domains.
  13. Percentage of DoFollow ref. domains. The site must receive a minimum of 60% DoFollow links. As I have already mentioned, you should evaluate them carefully. Check it out in Ahrefs.
  14. Nesting level. An article with your link should be found 2-5 clicks from the main page. The further the page is from the main page, the less internal weight it gets, and the less juice it will transmit to your site — you should consider this. Take it as a fact that all articles sink deep into the site structure sooner or later. Therefore, the site may lose its position significantly.
  15. Traffic country. Your site should have 60-70% links from sites in the same country. You should pay special attention to those resources that have a lot of traffic from India. This country creates plenty of low-quality sites for selling links.

Links from Which Sites Work Better?

These are sites from which it is practically impossible or tremendously difficult to get a link. If a site has a lot of links from free sites with DR 80-90, it does not indicate anything at all. The easier it is to get a link, the less juice that link can transmit. Easy-to-get links are usually used to dilute your link profile. You should look for article links from your potential sites and links from their main pages (partners, other projects, and testimonials).

You should rate a site by the number of really good DoFollow links.

For example, media mentions are a good sign. Try to find non-SEO sites with live links.

Case in point: on the screenshot below, you can find an example of one of the sites where you can place a guest post. The wording “Free” means the link is both free and easily accessible. Almost any all-thumbs SEO specialist can get it. Of course, there are also good free links. However, it is more about easy accessibility and the fact that such sites are already junked and spammed.

Final Words

Overall, choosing a website for guest posting is a very painstaking job. There is neither a single criterion nor an exact number. You will always need to analyze, check out, and estimate everything. A large number of sites do not give you any weight at all. You simply cannot find it out in advance. Therefore, you should try to protect your budget from unnecessary purchases by applying a comprehensive analysis.

Links in articles are very expensive now, and a free outreach is almost a fairy tale. So, don’t waste your budget.

There are not so many things in SEO that actually work, and there are even fewer things we can influence. However, quality control of external links is mostly in our hands, so, don’t ignore it.