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How-to 8 min read August 27, 2019

What should be referring sites: list of requirements

Link building implies receiving trust from search engines. Before buying links, it is very important to assess the donor. This factor will work on the effectiveness of published links and your position in the search engine results page.
Since search engines are distrustful of links, they can penalize the website. This is expressed in the artificial pessimization of the results. Therefore, you should give preference to quality over quantity.

External links of high quality affect the ranking because they are among the key factors. To determine the quality of the donor, you should evaluate a set of different parameters.

Donor site topics

The subject of the donor site should be directly or indirectly connected to yours.

"Directly" means that your web resource and donor site are as similar as possible; for example, they deal with baking. "Indirectly" implies a less obvious connection. Based on the previous example, these will be confectionery recipes, reviews, confectioners' blogs, and suchlike.

Donor site trust parameters

PageRank and its analogs from external sources are indicators used by Google and other search engines to assess the trust with the donor. Naturally, the higher the indicator of the donor is, the more effective the links from it can be. You should not consider these indicators as absolute ones. For that reason, the requirements make sense in aggregate.

A few years ago, when indicator' cheating was not investigated by search algorithms, this was used and artificially overestimated. Most of these resources have been identified and limited by sanctions.

A donor under the filter is not a good idea, because if there is a certain number of such donors, the acceptor site may also fall under the filter.

Content of the donor site

To evaluate the quality of the link donor, you should have a look at the published content. Assess the pages for annoying advertising, errors in the text, pay attention to the location of the links, and its cloud.

Moreover, you should evaluate the content coherence: either everything is published in a row, or the theme and style are well balanced. If you notice forbidden content, then you should not deal with such a donor.

Imagine how much it would be nice for you to get a link to your web resource on this site. Thus, you should pay attention to the indicators described below.

What to analyze when choosing a link donor

  • Content structure. Headings should be formatted; there should not be a canvas of text on its front. The enumeration of key phrases instead of text is unacceptable because it arouses suspicion of the algorithms.

  • Website relevance. The availability of live discussions, new publications, and others can tell a lot about the site. Donor sites that haven't been updated for several years are not relevant. You should give preference to active resources. Analyze the general spamming, that is, the ratio of commercial (advertising) and non-advertising content.

  • Uniqueness. Unique content is important. You should check how unique the text published by the donor is, and whether there is any spam in it. To do this, use online analyzers, for example, Dupli Checker or Copyleaks. If the content is not mostly unique, then it's likely to expect the same approach when posting your link.

  • Media content, graphic and video files. These components improve the perception of the text, help the user quickly understand the main point of the publication.

  • Make sure that the general content theme is consistent. After scrolling through the site, make sure that the materials deal with one topic, instead of spam about casinos.

  • The availability of filters and sanctions. The donor site should not be restricted in the search engine results page due to sanctions. Check this with the help of online services like Ionos.

  • Donor age. You should check it to ensure that the site doesn't work only 1 day and has already been indexed. You can indirectly evaluate the level of trust that has been formed from search engines. Do not publish on sites younger than 12 months old or on those whose domain payment is backlog for a long time.

  • General SEO. Analyze visually and using online analyzers. Pay attention to the speed of site loading, the availability of Title, Description, headings of H-levels, length of texts, micro-layout, and site map.

  • If you find a donor on social networks, then this is a good sign. This means that people are actively working on the site, reposting from the resource, conducting discussion, and more.

  • Availability of advertising. Aggressive advertising repels users, so choose donors with a minimal amount of advertising. Pay attention to the advertisement content, which should not be related to prohibited content.

  • The ratio of incoming links to outgoing. If the donor site publishes mostly links but does not have backlinks, then you should not post a link on it. Such a donor will have less confidence from search engines. The appropriate Serpstat section allows you to check how many backlinks a donor has. In the same module, you can find out which sites link to the site.
Referring domains check and analysis in Serpstat
  • Availability of links in exchanges. You must understand how accessible the donor is, whether it publishes everything, or whether its condition is suitable. If you found a link on the exchange, then this means that you need to conduct a careful analysis. A number of exchanges check donor sites independently, uploading reports on internal parameters for free and assigning their trust estimates.

Verification of the site's donors always includes an analysis of these indicators, because they may not correspond to reality.


The size and quality of the link mass affect the position of the site in the search engine results page. If you decide to purchase links from donors, check their quality carefully.

Moreover, you should take into account the following most important requirements:

  • relevance to the subject of your project;

  • trust level from search engines;

  • published content:
    • content structure;
    • website activity;
    • uniqueness;
    • volume of published material;
    • the availability of media content, graphic and video files;
    • consistency of topics in the content;

  • basic requirements for donor parameters:
    • filters and sanctions;
    • donor age;
    • general level of SEO;
    • social activity;
    • advertising;
    • website's backlinks;
    • participation in link exchanges.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
Checklist at Serpstat
Checklist is a ready-to-do list that helps to keep reporting of the work progress on a specific project. The tool contains templates with an extensive list of project development parameters where you can also add your own items and plans.
Try Checklist now

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