SEO Terms, Explained: Link Building



  • One of the core functions of SEO is a process called link building. 
  • We’re here to teach you a little bit about how it works by breaking down common link building terminology
  • Part 3 of this series focuses on common link building terms, including toxic backlinks, domain authority, and referring domains.

If you’re just getting started with implementing SEO tactics for your business or if you’re working with an SEO agency for the first time, there’s a lot of industry lingo to wrap your head around. The more you know, the better equipped you are to make decisions and tweak your strategy. 

At Redefine Marketing Group, we prioritize transparency with our clients, so they know exactly how the SEO process works every step of the way. Even if we aren’t directly working with you and your team, we’re happy to share our industry know-how, so that you can create a powerful online marketing strategy on your own. 

One of the core functions of SEO is a process called link building. We’re here to teach you a little bit about how it works by breaking down common link building terminology. If you’ve ever wondered what domain authority or linkable assets are, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. 

Toxic Backlinks

Toxic backlinks are links to your website (on other sites) that can negatively affect your search rankings. Toxic backlinks typically live on spammy websites that were 1) created for black hat link building purposes, 2) not indexed by Google, 3) intended as link networks, or 4) contain malware or viruses. Toxic backlinks became especially toxic when Google’s Penguin update hit.

Toxic backlinks to your website are typically generated when you work with SEO agencies that practice black hat tactics, like building spammy links to give you a quick, short-term rank boost (but a lot of long-term trouble).

Typically, you can detect a toxic backlink by 1) receiving a Google Webmaster warning, or 2) tracking a sharp decline in organic traffic. If you notice either of these two issues, conduct a thorough search of your backlinks to see if you can pinpoint any toxic links.

Domain Authority

Domain authority, also known as link equity, is a value given to how much power a link on a particular website can generate. For example, a site like has a very high domain authority (DA), because it’s so frequently visited and has so many powerful sites linking back to it. This means that getting a link for your own website on (or another website with high domain authority) would conceivably have more power than a link to a brand new mommy blog. 

Domain authority scores are measured on a scale of one to 100. The higher the score, the greater the ranking. Important to note: Google does not factor domain authority into search engine rankings, and it does not affect SERPS. It’s a directional metric that helps SEOs in terms of measuring a site’s ranking strength.

Linkable Assets

A linkable asset is a piece of content that was created with the intention of generating links back to it. Linkable content is usually less salesy (i.e., not product pages) and more shareable for other websites within your niche. Linkable assets usually provide some kind of educational, informational, funny, or interesting content that makes them so shareable. For example, some of the most common types of linkable assets include infographics, online tools, listicles, surveys/research, tutorials, and videos.

Nofollow and Dofollow Links

A dofollow link is a traditional link that informs Google to track back to the linked website, thereby passing link equity and improving the site’s rankings. Nofollow links are links that are coded as: rel=”nofollow”. This tag instructs search engines to move past that link entirely, meaning they have no impact on the site’s search engine rankings. In other words, Google only factors dofollow links into it’s algorithm. Getting a no follow links back to your site is essentially useless from an SEO perspective, but great from a traffic standpoint.

Nofollow links were initially created by Google to avoid nefarious link building strategies in blog comments and on social media sites, like Facebook and Quora. Many of these sites use nofollow links, meaning: when you post a link back to your website in a blog comment, on a social media site, in a press release, or on a content site like Reddit or Medium, you are posting a link that is clickable but won’t benefit your site from an SEO perspective. The aim is to cut back on black hat SEO companies posting spammy links on sites that are supposed to be informational to their readers. 

That’s not to say that leaving links and helpful info in the comment sections of sites like Quora or Reddit is spammy by default. Some SEOs (like us, for example!) use this as a tactic to improve referral traffic.

Referring Domains

Referring domains are the domains that link back to your site. For example, if you have a backlink from, you have one referring domain. If you have a backlink from and, you have two referring domains. If you have three backlinks from, you have three backlinks, but only one referring domain. 

Still Confused? Reach Out! 

If you’re still scratching your head, it’s okay. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to SEO. One of the best ways to overcome the barrier to entry with SEO is to work with a team of experts who can help you make sense of all this jargon.

At Redefine Marketing Group, we bring together state-of-the-art tools, competitive intelligence, and a collaborative vision to help you achieve your company’s overarching goals through SEO tactics. Our process involves getting to know all about you and your business, discovering the ins and outs of your industry, delivering a strategy based on SEO best practices, and then optimizing the tactics to ensure the best possible results. 

If you’re interested in working with a company that’s transparent, responsive, and ready to customize your strategy, get in touch to learn more about how we can redefine your marketing.

Author avatar
Jason Martinez
Jason is a Cal Poly Pomona Alum, extreme fan of marketing, and social media advocate. As a Brand Marketing Manager at Redefine Marketing Group, he is responsible for the development and execution of strategy for reputation management, link building, and social media marketing for both the agency and its clients.
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