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Are High Authority Backlinks Important for SEO?

By the Rhino Rank team
16th Oct 2023

If you’re running a website, you’ve probably heard how powerful backlinks are and may be interested in leveraging them for your site’s growth.

For years, backlinks, also called inbound links, have been an important part of most search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

Google and other search engines use backlinks when discovering and ranking websites, so knowing about them is crucial for optimizing your online presence.

This article will delve into backlink fundamentals, explaining what they are and why they are important for SEO. 

Short Summary

  • Backlink authority refers to the credibility and influence a website gains from quality backlinks pointing to it.
  • Higher backlink authority improves search engine rankings, drives organic traffic, and builds trust with users.
  • Focus on acquiring relevant, authoritative backlinks from reputable websites through quality content, outreach, and relationship-building.

What are High Authority Backlinks?

High authority backlinks are links that come from a highly trusted website, usually with a high domain rating (DR) or high domain authority (DA) of at least 70. 

However, Google employs more sophisticated criteria when ranking pages. In other words, finding a website with a high DA ranking lower than a low DA wouldn’t be surprising.

So, for a link to be a true high authority backlink, other factors like website quality and relevancy play an important role in addition to DA and DR score.


Levels of Authority Explained

There are three different levels of authority, including domain authority, page authority, and link authority.

Domain Authority

Domain authority (DA) simply refers to how reputable a website is in a given industry or niche.

Moz, a well-known and reputable search engine optimization (SEO) software company, developed a domain authority ranking system where websites are ranked on a scale of 1-100.

  • High domain authority: A website with high DA ranks 70 to 100. Acquiring backlinks from a high domain authority is the most difficult compared to the other levels because the editorial standards of websites that can offer such links are much higher. 
  • Medium authority: Medium domain authority ranges from 40 to 70. Backlinks from these domains offer substantial value to SEO efforts, and unlike high-authority links, they are easier to obtain. If used correctly, medium authority backlinks are as effective as high-authority.
  • Low authority: Low authority domains range from 0 to 40. Acquiring backlinks from websites with low domain authority is much easier, requiring little effort. Several factors can cause a website to have a low DA, with the main ones being a new website with little content or a spammy website associated with questionable practices.

Factors that Influence Domain Authority

Three main factors largely influence the DA score of a website, and they include:

  • Age: Domains that have existed for years tend to have a high DA score since search engines and their target audience are familiar with them. A new domain will have to earn its place with time. So, it must first age. Other factors, such as trust and popularity, can give an aged domain a low DA.
  • Trust: A domain with a good track record will have a good DA score. By a good track record, we mean the domain has not been involved in practices that aim to game search engines, and the domain shares high-quality content its target audience deems helpful.
  • Popularity: Popular domains in the SERPs are domains with many quality backlinks. This means the domain is popular among other high-authority domains and can be trusted. The popularity of a domain is also influenced by the number of unique links it receives.

How to Check Domain Authority

To check a website’s domain authority, you must use technical SEO tools provided by SEO companies.

Different companies use different metrics to determine the score of a website’s domain authority. However, the fundamentals tend to remain the same across several tools. 

Moz tool: Domain authority checker provided by Moz is arguably the most popular tool SEO professionals use. Moz coined the term domain authority and popularized it, and they also have the best crawlers that help check authority. Moz’s tool is called Mozbar, and it’s free to use.

Check website domain authority with MOZ

Ahrefs: The best alternative to Mozbar is the Ahrefs authority checker. It is equally powerful than Moz’s and is free to use. However, their term differs from other tools. For example, domain authority is called domain rating (DR).

Check website domain authority with Ahrefs

SEMRush: SEMRush is a popular SEO and digital marketing tool, and in its arsenal of SEO tools, there is a domain authority checker tool. To check a website’s DA with Semrush, you’ll have to paste the site’s link on the domain checking field and click search.

Check website domain authority with SEMRush

How to Improve Domain Authority

Having a higher domain authority means higher rankings leading to more organic traffic. Websites should be keen on improving their authority to gain a competitive advantage in the SERPs.

So, how can one increase the domain authority of a website? Here are a few different ways:

  • Follow website growing best practices: It’s easier to get tempted to try and game search engines into ranking you high using unorthodox means. However, such methods harm a site’s reputation and consequently lead to low DA scores.
  • Build links from high authority websites: A website’s backlink profile is important in improving its DA score. Acquiring strong external backlinks and all related techniques is called off-page SEO. To build a clean link, actively remove bad links, inactive links, and links from spammy websites.
  • On-page SEO: To improve your website’s DA score, your on-page SEO should be on point. On-page SEO best practices include publishing relevant and quality content, properly optimizing your titles and descriptions, proper usage of headings, keywords, and good internal linking.
  • Let your site or domain age: An aged domain that’s ranking is likely to have earned trust from its target audience, search engines, and other websites. This is evident with the amount of traffic aged domains drive compared to new sites.

What’s a Good Level of Domain Authority

Since a website’s domain authority can be scored on a scale of 1-100, companies and online businesses have always wondered about the best domain authority level.

One DA score is the worst, while the best is 100. 

However, there is no ideal level of domain authority since a lot goes into making a website successful. Your target market will decide the metrics you must earn to succeed.

For example, if you’re entering a market with little competition, you’re likely to be successful even with low domain authority. Markets with high competition will require much work to succeed; therefore, your domain authority will improve as you work on your site.

Some SEO tools can help you analyze your competition, including their domain authority, giving you an overview of what is expected of you to compete with them.

Of course, always aim for a higher domain authority since it’s a good authority metric to guide your SEO and link-building efforts.

Page Authority

Page authority is a metric that indicates how well a page will and should rank after being published. The higher the score of a particular page is, the more likely it will rank high in search engines.

A few factors that influence a page authority score are:

  • Age and trust: Pages published for years will likely have a higher PA score than new pages.
  • The value received from links: The more links a page gets, the higher its PA score.
  • The freshness of the last update: Frequent updates on a page signal search engines that your content is up to date and can be helpful. 

Link Authority

Link authority is another level of authority that helps a website rank well in search engines and drive more traffic.

Unlike the other groups of authority that have dedicated popular tools to check their scores, link authority has none. Moz has a link explorer; however, it shows the page authority of the link. It’s also important to be keen about the authority scores of your links because the higher the score, the better.

Factors Affecting Link Authority

Like domain and page authority, several factors influence a link’s authority. They include the following:

  • No. of Links on Page Linking Out: The more links a page has, the less authority the links get from the page because of sharing.
  • Location of the Page: The location of the page or destination page where your link is placed in the site that links to you matters when contributing to link authority. A link placed in-text (contextual link) provides more value than a link on the footer.
  • No-follow Attribute: No-follow links generally pass little link authority to the page’s link. However, you’re encouraged to have them since they are crucial for link building opportunities in a natural link profile.
  • Page Authority of Page Linking: A page with high authority is likelier to pass authority to the links it links. So, it’s better if your link is placed on pages ranking with more authority.

How Google Judges Link Quality

Google is the biggest search engine and therefore has to screen every link before showing the link’s content to its visitors.  Google’s process of evaluating a link’s quality involves using a complex algorithm considering several factors.

Some key factors include:

  • External links from other websites: The more other websites link to your page, the more authority the link of the page gets. While internal links are still important, external links to your page are far more important.
  • Anchor text: A link placed on relevant anchor text has more authority than links placed over a random text without consideration of how relevant the text is to the link.
  • Topical relevance: Google can scan two pages and determine if they cover similar or close subjects. Google and other search engines likely place more value on links on pages with content in the same category as theirs.
  • Location of the link: As stated earlier, contextual links have more value than links placed on other parts of the page.

Link Authority: Quantity vs Quality

When building a website’s authority, you can be unsure whether to focus on the quality or quantity of the backlinks. Some SEO professionals swear by link quality, while others will try to balance quality and quantity.

So, which route should you take?

Link quantity

Well, the more backlinks your site gets, the more traffic it can get. But how many backlinks are needed? There is no exact number of incoming links preferred, but if many websites build citations based on your content, your trust score in the search engines increases, improving your ranking.

People who prefer link quantity argue that acquiring links from low to medium-authority, non-spammy sites is easier. This way, the link-building process is quicker.

The downside of link quantity is that you risk attracting links from spammy sites with little or no reputation. 

Link Quality

Some digital marketers prefer link quality over quantity, and here are some of their reasons.

The first reason is that the links are high-quality, from authority websites, and can improve your rankings and traffic.

Another reason is that the risks involved with high-quality links are minimal, so there is no worry about harming your website.

Also, each high-quality link proves to be worth more for your SEO efforts. The more links you get from high-authority websites, the better the rankings.

The downside of focusing on high-quality backlinks if your website needs to be established, is that acquiring them takes a long time.  For example, it’s nearly impossible for a new website to get links from sites like Entrepreneur or Forbes.

Follow Vs. Nofollowed Links

In 2005, Google introduced a nofollow link attribute (rel=”nofollow“) that prevents websites from passing on link equity, also called link juice, to the websites they are linking out to.  This was mainly to prevent link manipulation, which was rife in the comment section.

When a website adds the nofollow attribute to a link, it tells Google search bots to ignore the link ranking the other website.

Follow links are the standard links that can pass link equity. Unlike nofollow links,  a follow or dofollow link attribute does not exist. So if you see a dofollow link attribute (rel=”dofollow), know that it’s unnecessary and does not influence anything.

Tips to Improve Link Authority

Link authority can be improved, and the following tips can help increase the scores.

Update and Repurpose Old Content

Revise your existing content and identify pieces that need improvement or improvement. Enhance the content to be more valuable by being relevant, accurate, and fresh. Up-to-date content is more likely to attract more traffic and new backlinks, increasing the link quality of the page.

Build Quality Backlinks

Backlinks from high-quality and authoritative sources signal search engines that your page and its content are to be trusted, prompting the search engines to rank your page high in the SERPs. This way, the link associated with the page also improves its authority.

Leverage Social Media

Social platforms allow you to reach a wider and new audience. Leverage their virality nature to promote your link and increase its visibility. Always engage with your audience, respond to comments, and encourage sharing. 

Clean Up Your Link Profile

You must regularly audit your site’s link profile to identify and remove low-quality or spammy links. Low-quality backlinks can harm your site’s authority and rankings.

Monitor Your Link Authority

Monitoring your link authority will help you understand the impacts of SEO efforts and identify areas for improvement.

But Why Do We Need Backlinks Anyway?

Are backlinks still important today? Yes, they are important; we need them for our SEO strategies. Backlinks help improve our website’s search engine rankings and overall online visibility. 

For example, when an authority website like The Washington Post links to your content, search engines like Google view this as a vote of confidence in your website’s credibility and relevance. The more quality backlinks, the better.

The Process of Getting High Authority Backlinks


Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a tool that connects journalists and bloggers with credible sources for their content. You can give and receive expert input on various topics. It’s an incredible place to obtain a good link, as websites usually link back to the source of their information, which is you.

Guest Posting

Guest posting allows you to obtain highly relevant high authority backlinks and reach new audiences. This is why it is important to write helpful guest posts for authoritative websites in your industry.

Link Exchanges & Swapping Links

Link exchanges and swaps happen when two or more websites mutually agree to link out to each other. Ideal link exchanges should be between sites in the same niche and relevant to each other’s content. Ensure you thoroughly vet the other sites before linking domains in such an arrangement.

PR Outreach of Linkable Assets

PR outreach in a link-building campaign employs public relations techniques to secure editorial backlinks from targeted link prospects. The methods include publishing releases and conducting media pitching.

The Mistakes to Avoid When Building Links

Even though building links to a site has a positive effect on the site’s performance, there are several mistakes you need to avoid to ensure your site is protected from potential harm.

Avoid Low-Quality Directory Links

It’s common for websites to practice citation building, sending information about themselves to listing directories online to acquire directory backlinks. 

While link building, you want to avoid low-quality directory backlinks because search engines will consider your actions spammy.

Purchased Links

Purchasing links from link vendors for ranking purposes exposes your site to more harm in search engine results than good. This tactic is against Google and other search engine guidelines, and your site risks being penalized if caught in the act.

Also, sellers of these links will sell them to anyone, making their sites a link spam fest, diluting any link juice you could have acquired.

Link Exchanges / Reciprocal Linking

You need to be very keen when gaining links from link exchange arrangements. Always vet the sites you’re exchanging links to ensure they are high quality, relevant, and trustworthy.

Obtaining a High Link Authority Starts Now

Backlinks can dramatically influence a website’s search engine rankings and overall visibility.

Therefore, you should include a backlink-acquiring strategy in your SEO efforts.

However, you want to avoid obtaining backlinks from any website. You should strive to get backlinks from high-authority websites.

High backlink authority will improve your site’s authority, drive more traffic, and boost your search engine rankings.

Start obtaining a high backlink authority now.


Link Authority FAQs

True or False? Backlinks Build Authority.

True! Each high quality backlink acts as a “vote” of confidence from one website to another, signaling to search engines that your content is authoritative and trustworthy. This helps boost your website’s authority, keyword rankings, and online visibility.

What Is Link Authority?

Link authority is a metric that indicates the power of a link to rank high in search engines. A page with authority influences its link to having high authority.

What Are Authority Backlinks?

Authority backlinks are links that come from relevant and authoritative third-party websites. Google views authoritative backlinks as a vote of confidence for your website, which is why building these backlinks is a key part of any SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. 

What Are High Domain Authority Backlinks?

A high domain authority backlink is a link from a high authority website with a high domain rating (DR) or authority (DA) score of 70 and above. High-authority websites have a strong link profile and have been around for a long time.

What Is SEO Authority?

SEO authority is how “strong” a website’s domain is regarding ranking in the SERPSs and its ability to pass its link equity “juice” to other online pages.

How Does Link Juice Work?

Link juice works when a website passes its value or authority to another website through hyperlinks, thereby influencing the linked page’s search engine rankings.