Common SEO Metrics for Backlink Campaigns

Before engaging in a link building project it is important to have an understanding of common SEO metrics used to qualify backlink targets. This helps with setting minimum requirements for tentative link targets.

Good link builders will go over metrics with a client during initial stages of a backlink campaign. Creating these minimum standards for future link targets helps to create transparency and helps to properly set expectations.

Although there are numerous SEO tools available, the information below pertains to three of the most popular SEO tools used today: Ahrefs, Moz and SEM Rush.


Ahrefs is the go-to tool for lots of link builders. It excels in link data and Ahrefs has an impressive database. Plans range between $99/mo and $999/mo and higher for an Agency. The standard plan is $179.

snapshot of ahrefs seo tool

(DR) Domain Rating

According to Ahrefs, the Domain Rating shows the strength of a website’s backlink profile (or all of the websites combined that are linking in to it) compared to all of the other sites in Ahref’s database. This is a 0-100 point scale, and the higher the DR the more trusted the site according to Ahrefs.

(UR) URL Rating

Similar to the Domain Rating listed above, the UR only looks at the actual page, and not the root domain. So for, the UR would be an indication of how authoritative /this-page is.

ST (Estimated Search Traffic)

ST is the estimated monthly organic search traffic that a website gets. This number is calculated by analyzing the ranking position for a particular keyword phrase and computing with monthly search volume.

KW (Keywords Ranked)

KW is an indication of how many keyword phrases a website shows up for in Google’s top 10 pages (or top 100 results) when that keyword phrase is searched.

(RD) Referring Domains

RD is an indication of how many different domains (or separate websites, not pages) are linking in to a website. You can only get 1 RD from one domain, i.e.

(BL) Backlinks

BL are the individual links that point to a website. One domain can have lots of pages that link to a particular website. It is possible to have mutiple backlinks from a single website.


Moz is another respected SEO tool that is great for tracking rankings, crawling and auditing sites, finding link opportunities and other SEO tasks.

Moz Spam

One of the best SEO metrics for gauging spam potential of a website is Moz’s spam score. On a 1-100% scale, the higher the Moz spam percentage the less the site is trusted by Moz.

The spam score shows the percentage of sites with similar features that have been penalized by Google. According to Moz, there are 27 common features that millions of websites have used and been penalized in Google’s SERP (search engine results page).

On a 1-100% scale, the higher the Moz spam percentage the less the site is trusted by Moz.

1-30% Low

31-60% Medium

61-100% High

(DA) Domain Authority

DA is an indication of how well a website will rank in Google search results. On a 0-100 scale, the higher the score the better the authority.

Moz calculates DA by analyzing the amount of root domains that are linking in, so it’s a measure of the strength of the backlink profile.

(PA) Page Authority

PA is very similar to DA, but for the specific page and not the domain. So it scores each page on the domain individually on a range of 0-100. The higher the score the more authority that particular page is believed to have.

As with many other SEO scores, it is easier to see growth from a 10-20 than a 60-70.

SEM Rush

Toxicity score

SEM Rush uses 40 factors when determining the Toxic Score of a link. This score is similar to Moz’s spam score. Some factors that can contribute towards the toxicity score are:

  • Backlinks from other toxic sites
  • Mirror pages
  • Link Networks
  • Spam from forums
  • Author links
  • Signature spam
  • Links in footers
  • Page comment spam and more.

Authority Score

The Authority Score in SEM Rush is similar to DR at Ahrefs, and DA and Moz. It is an indication of overall SEO strength and authority.

Organic Search Traffic

This is an indication of estimated search traffic from Google’s SERP. This estimated is found by analyzing organic keyword rankings and monthly search volume.

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