8 Link Building Metrics You Need To Track in 2024

8 Link Building Metrics You Need To Track in 2024
Do not index
Do not index
Link-building metrics help you assess the effectiveness of your link-building campaigns. They provide qualitative and quantitative insights into how well your link profile is performing in terms of rankings, organic traffic, and domain authority.
In this post, we’ll explore 8 link-building metrics you need to track in 2024.
Most SEO tools use proprietary metrics to monitor website performance – leading to disagreements over how to track progress.
To navigate this issue, we’ve highlighted metrics that, based on our experience, are crucial for SEO but aren’t specific to any tool. Sure, some of them are measured differently by different SEO tools (see domain and page strength). However, that doesn’t diminish their utility or value.
With that said, here are some link-building metrics to prioritize for SEO:

1. Domain Strength

Denoted by acronyms like DA(domain authority) and DR(domain rating), domain strength refers to a website’s overall authority and trustworthiness. It’s determined by various factors, including:
  • The number and quality of links pointing to a site
  • Content quality and relevance
  • User experience (website speed and mobile friendliness)
While not a Google ranking factor, domain strength correlates strongly with rankings. Basically, the stronger your domain, the higher your chances of ranking in SERPs (search engine results pages).
There are two ways to measure a domain’s strength:
a) Using Domain Authority(or DA): Developed by Moz, domain authority is calculated by “evaluating multiple factors,” including the number of links pointing to a website and linking root domains. As of 2019, a website’s DA is also determined by how often it appears in SERPs.
notion image
How to check your site’s DA: If you’re using an SEO tool, check out your dashboard. You’ll likely find your DA on the overview screen (unless you’re using Ahrefs, in which case, check out the DR section below). You can also check your DA using this free domain analysis tool.
b) Using Domain Rating(or DR): Ahrefs’ domain rating relies on three factors: the number of unique domains pointing to a website, the authority of those domains, and the number of unique domains each of those sites link to.
notion image
How to check your site’s DR: If you’re an Ahrefs user, navigate to Dashboard>Projects to see your domain rating.
Or, use Smartlinks to see the DR, Traffic, and Spam scores of all your websites in one place. You can also use it to find relevant backlink opportunities and convert them with one click!
Check DR and other link-building metrics in Smartlinks
Check DR and other link-building metrics in Smartlinks
To get the most out of your link-building campaigns, analyze the strength of your own domain, as well as that of your prospects.
Also, consider the following factors:
  • Relevance: Is the site relevant to your niche?
  • Link placement: Is the link placed within blog content? (More on this later)
  • Content freshness: Is the page updated regularly?
By doing so, you can target the most lucrative opportunities for your site.

2. Page Strength

Page strength measures the same things as domain strength (i.e., overall authority and trustworthiness). However, it does that at the page level.
Page strength is based on a variety of factors, including:
  • The quantity and quality of links pointing to a page
  • Content relevance
  • Keyword density
  • User behavior
Again, there are two ways to analyze page strength:
a) Using Page Authority(or PA): Developed by Moz, Page Authority helps predict how well a page would perform in SERPs.
notion image
It’s based on data from the Mozscape web index (a map of all web content) and over 40 other factors (including link counts). However, that doesn’t include on-page factors like keyword use or content optimization.
How to check a page’s PA: If you don’t mind signing up for a free tool, check out Moz’s Link Explorer for page and domain authority metrics. Or, opt for a free page authority checker like this.
a) Using URL Rating (or UR): Ahrefs' URL rating measures a page's link profile on a logarithmic scale of 0-100 (with 0 being the weakest and 100 the strongest). It takes both internal and external links into account – although they’re weighted differently. Also, only dofollow links influence UR ratings.
notion image
How to check UR ratings: You can only check your UR ratings in the Ahrefs SEO tool. To see your homepage UR, go to the overview screen in the Site Explorer option. For other pages, navigate to the Best by Links report in the left-side menu.
When planning a link-building campaign, check both the domain and page authority metrics of your prospects. That way, you’d end up targeting high-quality pages on high-authority sites.

3. Anchor Text

Anchor text is the clickable portion of a hyperlink. It helps search engines and readers understand the content of a linked page.
As a link-building metric, anchor text helps you:
a) Assess your own link profile: By analyzing anchor texts that attract the most backlinks to your site, you can assess the health of your link profile and identify negative SEO attacks against your website.
notion image
Here’s how to go about it: If you don’t have access to an SEO tool, fire up your Google Search Console and navigate to Links in the left-side menu. This will take you to an overview of your internal and external links and the Top Linking Text Report. To see your website's most frequently used anchors, click on the latter.
For more info, use a premium SEO tool. In the image above, we’ve used Ahrefs to see our top anchor texts in the Site Explorer option.
Note: Sites with a natural link profile have a high percentage of branded anchors(as shown in the image above). Also, in case of an SEO attack, a site may have backlinks containing spammy (or irrelevant) anchors (see the image below).
notion image
b) Assess the link profile of a prospect: Anchor text diversity is also helpful when evaluating a prospect's link profile. Ideally, you’d want to avoid backlinks from sites with plenty of over-optimized anchors(since Google considers them link spam). Or anchors that aren’t relevant to their niche.
You can confirm this using a paid SEO tool. If you are using Ahrefs, the process would be similar to analyzing your top anchors (except you’ll have to plug your target website into the Site Explorer).

4. Number and Quality of Referring Domains

Another important link-building metric is the number of domains linking to your site.
notion image
A high number of referring domains can indicate the credibility and authority of your website. But that in itself isn’t conclusive.
To get the full picture, you must look at the quality and relevance of those domains. Here’s how to do that:
  • Check domain strength: Ideally, your referring domains should have a higher DA/DR than you. The ideal DA/DR can vary depending on your website's current authority.
  • Check relevance: Your referring domains should be in related or shoulder niches (areas related to your core business). That’s because backlinks from these domains are often more valuable than those from unrelated domains – even if the DA or DR is lower.
Another factor to consider is the number of links on a referring domain’s page. A page with too many links won't pass much link equity (or authority) through its backlinks – so you’re probably not getting much value from it.
A link’s position on a web page significantly impacts its link equity. According to Google’s Reasonable Surfer Patent:
Backlinks in the “footer of a page, in the same color text as the rest of the text, and the same font type” may not pass along as much link equity.
(This is also true for links tucked in headers and sidebars)
On the other hand:
If a link is in the “main content area, uses a font and color that might make it stand out,” and uses text that makes someone click, it may pass along a fair amount of link equity.
Based on their attributes, backlinks can be divided into two categories:
a) DoFollow Links: They allow search engines to crawl them and pass link equity from the source page to the linked page. Dofollow links contribute to a page's authority and can positively impact its search engine rankings.
notion image
b) NoFollow Links: They instruct search engines not to follow the link and pass any link equity. They’re often used to prevent the linking page from endorsing the linked content. Nofollow links include a “nofollow,” “UGC,” or “sponsored” value in their rel attribute.
notion image
Ideally, you’d want most of your links to be dofollow, as they signal confidence in your content. That said, there’s no harm in having nofollow links, as they, too, can boost your referral traffic(traffic from backlinks) and rankings(if Google deems them valuable).

7. Traffic and Spam Score

At Smartlinks, we consider both organic traffic and spam scores when evaluating a backlink opportunity. Here’s why we use them:
  • Traffic: High-traffic domains can help you generate more referral traffic. However, for optimal results, you need to distill them through the above-mentioned metrics.
  • Spam Score: Developed by Moz, Spam Score(SS) is based on 27 features common to millions of penalized/banned websites. This is an important metric to consider since backlinks from spammy domains (Spam Score between 61%-100%) can increase your own Spam Score.
When used correctly, these link-building metrics are quite helpful for building quality links – which is why, we’ve also incorporated them into Smartlinks(the app).
notion image
Every time you open one of your pages on Smartlinks, it shows you a list of relevant link prospects with their DR, Traffic, and Spam Scores on the right-hand side.
If you want, you can filter these results as per your preferences. You can also request a backlink from these websites with a single click!
Sounds inconceivable? Try Smartlinks to see if it lives up to these claims.

8. Shift in Search Engine Rankings

This is the most reliable way to measure the success of your campaigns.
Positive changes in rankings, particularly for relevant keywords, indicate that your link-building efforts have paid off.  They also help you determine which strategies are most effective and what type of backlinks have the greatest impact.
Here’s how to monitor your search engine rankings effectively:
  • Select relevant keywords: Begin by selecting a list of relevant keywords that are important for your website's SEO.
  • Plug keywords into an SEO tool: Add your keywords to an SEO tool and establish a baseline ranking(current ranking for topics you’d like to be known for) for them.
notion image
  • Schedule regular checks: Depending on the competition in your niche and the frequency of content updates, this may range from daily to weekly or monthly checks.
  • Monitor local vs. global rankings: Consider whether your website has local or global relevance. Some rankings may vary depending on the searcher's location.
  • Track mobile and desktop rankings: To get a complete overview of your performance, monitor both desktop and mobile searches since they can vary.
  • Record and analyze changes: Monitor changes in ranking to determine which keywords are improving, declining, or remaining stable.
By tracking shifts in your rankings, you can adjust your link-building strategy and target opportunities that align better with your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Link-building campaigns are strategic efforts undertaken by website owners or SEO professionals to acquire high-quality backlinks from other websites to their own. Their primary goal is to enhance a website's search engine rankings and overall authority in a specific niche.
Honestly, there’s no best way to track a link-building campaign. Everyone approaches it differently. However, the following practices can serve as a good starting point:
  • Set Up Google Search Console: This will give you valuable data on the performance of your website. You can see which keywords are driving traffic and how often your site appears in SERPs.
  • Keyword Rankings: Track the rankings of your target keywords using SEO tools.
  • Conversion Tracking: If your goal is not just traffic but conversions (e.g., sales, sign-ups), set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics to attribute conversions to specific traffic sources, including referral traffic from backlinks.

Written by

 Divya Mathur
Divya Mathur

Senior Content marketer at Smartlinks.ai and Smarttask.io. Passionate about B2B SaaS and Artificial Intelligence. I’ve been in the content space for over 6 years and have first-hand experience in how On-Page and Off-Page SEO affect a site's traffic. These articles enable me to share my learnings and help you achieve better search results.