High Authority Backlinks: What Are They? How To Find Them?

Having been in SEO since 2009, I can tell you from first-hand experience (of ranking several service businesses and ecommerce sites — personal and clients’) that all backlinks are not equal — in terms of link juice and easiness.

And it doesn’t matter if you try to game the system by increasing the quantity or velocity of your links. Some backlinks won’t increase your rankings on search results.

For example, you can’t compare the impact of Forbes’ backlink to that of “Squeeze Growth.”

forbes backlink profile
squeeze growth backlink profile

The backlink profile and organic traffic aside, Forbes is a recognizable brand. Squeeze Growth, on the other hand, is not.

Funnily enough, your site’s DA/DR is probably higher than Squeeze Growth’s. In other words, zero your mind about any juice dripping to you.

Bottom line:

There is something like a high authority backlink.

Here (in this article), I’ll discuss everything you need to know about such links. More importantly, I’ll show you I get them.

What Are SEOs Saying?

In a reply to a tweet “about the relevancy of backlinks today,” Sweepsify said, “it depends on the type of backlink. High authority backlinks will always be important to Google.”

tweet seos about high authority backlinks

And I agree with Sweepsify’s stand. Why bother wasting resources on low-tier backlinks that will likely not help your SEO goals?

Another tweep agrees with Sweepsify’s view. Padula Media adds that “backlinks from high authority websites that are relevant to your niche carry more weight and are more valuable for SEO purposes.”

tweet seos about high authority backlinks

That is also true. But does Google agree?

Let’s find out!

What Does Google Say?

While Google doesn’t exactly have a say about high authority backlinks, dear “Uncle” John Mu has some “contentious” views.

In a reply to a tweet “about the relevance of high domain authority backlinks,” John Mu said, “we don’t use domain authority at all in our algorithms.”

tweer john mu reaction

Oddly enough, John Mu says something entirely different in Google Search Central SEO hangout, 2021.

When asked what matters between the “quantity” of a site’s backlinks or their “uniqueness,” John Mu replied as below:

search central hangout excerpt
search central hangout excerpt

But let me ask you this:

What makes a news site BIG?

Popularity, huh?

If a news site is popular, it definitely has a high domain authority and domain rating. Let’s see examples to solidify that argument.

popular news sites in the world

We’ll pick 5 from the  list and check their respective DA/DR:

  • Huffpost: DA 94, DR 92
  • Wall Street Journal: DA 94, DR 92
  • ABC News: DA 93, DR 92
  • The Economist: DA 93, DR 91
  • USA Today: DA 94, DR 92

What’s even funny is that John asked that you feature on the homepages of such sites. Popular news websites with 90+ ratings!

Well, the feat is achievable. However, it will take time and considerable effort. Plus, you’ll spend on the high end to make that possible.

How much are we looking at?

Check this detailed guide on link building pricing for insights!

So, what should you do?

Analyzing what SEOs think and John Mu’s conflicting replies, the fact is clear:

High authority backlinks are a thing, and they matter.

But prioritize the niche-relevant ones to get the most results from high domain authority backlinks (or any links). They are golden.

So, shall we discuss how to get the high authority links already?

Hold on a bit; let’s see what makes a link high authority.

What Makes A Backlick High Authority?

While there might be varying definitions and qualifying factors, high authority backlinks bores down to where you get them from. They are more about the source sites than anything.

So, what is your target’s domain authority or domain rating?

Is it somewhere around 70 and above?

If yes, that’s a high authority site. By extension, the backlinks from such websites will be “high authority.”


High authority backlinks are links obtained from sites with DA/DR 70 and above.

These websites have long-established trust with search engine results. As a result, these upvotes carry a lot of weight (link juice).

But which should you prioritize, DA or DR?

Domain Authority (DA) and Domain Rating (DR) are scores assigned by SEO tools to describe the backlink profiles of websites. The former is used by Moz, and the latter is by Ahrefs.

But from personal study, Ahrefs DR is always lower than Moz DA. I’ll recommend you stick with the former evaluation. Why?

If the ratings were eventually higher, you wouldn’t lose out with a lower estimation. Plus, your hopes won’t be dashed.

BTW, don’t only focus on others’ domain authority/rating. Work on yours too. Here is why:

After combing through several top-ranking URLs, I’ve found that the high-rankers have STRONG scores.

Don’t know how to increase your site’s DA/DR?

Read this practical guide I wrote on increasing sites’ DA.

That said, let’s discuss how to find high authority backlinks.

Get On Podcasts/Webinars

Earlier, I quoted excerpts from Google Search Central SEO hangout, 2021. But I’m not the only one quoting that webinar — other sites with even more authority are (SEJ, for example).

What do you make of all that?

Webinars are surefire ways to get backlinks — especially the high authority sites. Here is the trick:

Writers on high authority sites hardly link to other articles on their posts unless highly-necessary — outside reports and studies. But they will readily quote webinars and podcasts.


Quotes on podcasts show more authority and are undoubtedly proof of expertise. That matches the E-E-A-T guidelines from Google.

So, get on as many podcasts in your niche as possible. Share your ideas and expertise. An author on your desired news site will soon pick you up.

If that approach is time-consuming, try the following 4 methods below. 

Be A Source On HARO

I already talked about this method extensively in the HARO link building article [hyperlink to our article on the topic]. So, I’ll summarise the points here.

The whole point of HARO is to get direct access to the media personnel on top publications. They (the personnel) always post queries on HARO, looking for unique stories to set their sites aside.

You can key into that need.

However, your news must indeed be worth the catch. Otherwise, your pitch will be lost to the noise.

Broken link building is one of my favorite ways to get authority backlinks. And that’s because of the concept: “You help to get helped.”

Let me explain!

In this method, you start by offering value. You’ll scrape through your target site, looking for broken links.

After finding the broken links, you’ll offer to create a replacement page.

And because you put the target interest first, your chances of getting a backlink are high. Nevertheless, ensure your pitch shows value.

Read further on how to find broken link building opportunities!

Link exchange works similarly to broken links: mutual benefits for the parties involved.

However, there are a few differences. Link exchanges are like a “band of friends helping each other.” And there might be a few rules to join in.

Also, you must have a significant high domain authority. Otherwise, you won’t benefit the other parties in the exchange.


Link exchange can be borderline gravy. So, do it RIGHT. This guide can help.

Linkable Assets + PR Outreach

This approach is straightforward. And I prefer it to guest posting.

I’m not saying guest posts don’t work. But they can be too much work. Linkable assets are better.

So, how does this work?

  • First, determine your linkable asset — you could use infographics, e-tools, curated statistical reports, or skyscraper content.
  • Follow the journalists/authors on your target sites.
  • Send a pitch about your asset, or
  • Run an ad for your “assets.”

Either way, you won’t lose. But you will spend more money here than other methods.

Avoid The No-index Trap

Guest posting on MAJOR news sites is only one part of the deal. Are the sites indexing the articles?

Huffington Post, for example, doesn’t index contributor articles. This started in 2016 and doesn’t look like stopping soon.

Like Huffington Post, Buzzstream doesn’t index contributor posts. This case is humorous since the site allows several users to own a contributor account. 

And so?

Google won’t index your guest post — and your backlinks — let alone crawl it and have a chance to get some link juice.

The Huffington Post & Buzzstream cases are even better. The sites might change their mind, and your links will be crawled.

Forbes and Inc Magazine are worse. How so?

Any backlinks on your Forbes and Inc Magazine posts will attach a “nofollow” tag. In other words, no link juice will be sent to your site or pages.

Bottom line:

It’s best to go through the editorial account to get backlinks from high authority sites. Otherwise, you’d only be helping the websites build their resource banks.

DA/DR Scores Can Be Manipulated

Earlier, I told you DA/DR scores are insights from SEO tools. In other words, if you understand how they are calculated, you can shoot up your score.

In essence, there are several fake authority sites. Often, such websites get the STRONG scores using black hat strategies — especially link farms.

How can you identify these “fake sites”?

fake authority site
  • Don’t be EASILY conned if your target’s domain rating/authority is 70+.
  • Check the traffic too.
  • For a site to have 70+, the traffic should not be less than 1K.
  • Otherwise, you’re likely dealing with a fake authority site.

Look Beyond Just The DA/DR Score

Even when the said site has AUTHENTIC high authority, that’s not everything. You must still look at the exact page — especially for niche edits.

What is the page rating (UR/PA)?

If the page rating is high, it (the page) will likely have tons of traffic. That can benefit your money site.

There is nothing wrong with brand-new page features. But they take time to drip link juice, from my experience.

In addition to the page rating, check the site’s relevance. Is the content relevant to your anchor or the landing page?

Are there page, contextual, and domain relevance?

Try to get the context and page right — at least!

Yes, but it is rare.

Often, you have to pay through the nose to acquire high authority backlinks.

But getting such links for FREE is possible. Build a one-of-a-kind linkable asset; authority sites might reach out.

Often, from experience, you need an outreach campaign even for your linkable asset to get the best results. In this case, you’ll spend “a little” compared to buying the backlinks outrightly.

Also, watch out for fake authority sites when buying links. Don’t fall into the trap of link farms or no-index websites.

Unfortunately, there is no definite answer. It all depends on your hire and the target site.

Nevertheless, you can expect a range of $500-2K per link — or even more.

A high authority backlink is the upvote obtained to your site from a website with a 70+ DA/DR score. Such links have the most juice to pass.

Note: SEMrush also has a similar rating for checking backlink profiles. It is called Authority Score (AS). But even that must be 70+ to be considered “high.”

What I call a high quality backlink is a mix of several features. For starters, it must be from an authority site. Also, the link must be relevant to your niche and the landing page.

Summarily, a high quality backlink is obtained from a site with a 70+ DA/DR score – related to your niche and with a relevant anchor text.

Yes, it is. But there are better methods.

If you have noticed, you’ll see I omitted guest posts from the list of the ways to authority backlinks. The reason is simple:

The chances are high that you’ll get into the “no-index” or “nofollow” traps like every other contributor.

Unlike PR and media outreach, guest posts don’t always work. Nonetheless, they can be effective if your article is unique and masterly crafted.

More importantly, check that the site you’re contributing to doesn’t do the “noindex” or “nofollow” trick.

To get a backlink from a site with a 70+ DA/DR/AS score is no small task. It takes time, resources, and money.

BTW, the score is not all that matters. The site must be relevant to your business — in every sense, from the page, and content, to the anchor text.

If you put all that in place, the results will undoubtedly jolt your rankings. I know because I do that for my money sites and clients’.

And if the methods discussed are confusing, you can always get help.