Fancy a backlink from one of the worst sites on the web?

You can’t judge a website or a backlink prospect just by having a quick look. To really understand the value of a site you’ve got to dig into their backlink profile, see who’s linking to the site, explore why they’re linking to it and discover what specific content attracts the most backlinks.

I was presenting a workshop on this topic at a SMX London, and while doing background research, I came across a list of the worst websites on the web in 2014 on WebPagesThatSuck.com:

Fancy a backlink from one of the worst sites on the web?

Being curious, I wondered if these sites deserved the criticism of being the worst and decided to do a backlink analysis of the sites featured in this ‘anti-talent show’. Among the dross, I came across an absolute gem of an example – PaulGraham.com.

Here’s the homepage:

Fancy a backlink from one of the worst sites on the web?

Clearly spending pots of cash on design over substance is not one of Graham’s weaknesses!

The site looked awful back in 2014 when it ‘won’ the award, it was awful when it first crawled by the Wayback Machine (archive.org), and now in 2020, the site still looks just as awful.

But when I did a backlink analysis of the site, the quality and the richness of the backlinks that point to this ugly duckling were spectacular.

Here’s a screenshot from Majestic:

Fancy a backlink from one of the worst sites on the web?

A good measure of any site is the number of quality people that link to it. And in that PaulGraham.com excels.

The Majestic analysis shows a high Trust Flow of 74 with over 10,000 backlinks in the fresh index and over 26,000 in the historic index.

Here are some examples:

Paul Graham in the New York Times

Take this backlink from the NYTimes.com. The article looks at the future impact that Robots will have on jobs and suggests that giving everyone a basic paycheck may be one option.

Fancy a backlink from one of the worst sites on the web?

To back up his argument, the writer, Farhad Manjoo cites one of Paul Graham’s essays, Economic Inequality 

Here Manjoo’s aim is to provide additional information, so the reader while enjoying the article can move on and dig deeper into the topic. He clearly sees Graham as an authority in business.

Paul Graham on Forbes Magazine

Kyle Wong is a writer on digital Media and Entrepreneurship. Here in “Forbes” magazine, he covers, “3 Startup Resources For Aspiring Entrepreneurs”

Here’s what he says about Graham, “Personally, I love reading Graham’s pieces… he has arguably more data points about what makes companies successful than any other person in the world. He has helped and funded over 800 startups including Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, and Reddit.”

Fancy a backlink from one of the worst sites on the web?

He links to four essays by Graham including his personal favorite, “Do Things That Don’t Scale.” 

This essay from Graham is packed with great practical advice for startups including:

“There are two reasons founders resist going out and recruiting users individually. One is a combination of shyness and laziness. They’d rather sit at home writing code than go out and talk to a bunch of strangers and probably be rejected by most of them. But for a startup to succeed, at least one founder (usually the CEO) will have to spend a lot of time on sales and marketing.”

Wong’s article is recommending top resource sites for entrepreneurs and it’s important that he only quotes authoritative sources.

Paul Graham on Entrepreneur.com

And here’s another example from Entrepreneur Magazine, “Entrepreneurs Are Scheduling Their Days Down to the Minute for Ultimate Success”  from VIP Contributor, John Rampton.

Fancy a backlink from one of the worst sites on the web?

In the article, Rampton explains that when he started his own business, keeping to a regular daily schedule was a real challenge.

As he says, “There are days when you feel you’ve accomplished more than planned. But there are also days when you’re aimlessly running around. This might feel productive but you were just busily accomplishing zilch.”

He realized that he needed more structure to be more productive. He lists nine ways he achieved that goal, and Paul Graham provided the inspiration for number 4, Build your own maker’s schedule, manager’s schedule.

He says, “Building your own schedule is an idea influenced by Paul Graham where entrepreneurs create two different schedules (or plans) for each day:

  • A maker’s schedule that will either operate on a half-day or full-day spent on tasks like problem-solving or building a product.
  • A manager’s schedule is where you set aside hour blocks of time for tasks like marketing, sales, and meetings.”

Rampton wasn’t just citing a quote from Graham, but basing one of his own pieces of advice on what he learned from Graham.

Paul Graham on SparkToro

And on Rand Fishkin’s new enterprise, SparkToro, a recent essay on writing appears 16th in a list of trending articles – you can read How to Write Usefully here

Fancy a backlink from one of the worst sites on the web?

Key Takeaways

Here’s what this analysis tells us:

  1. You can’t judge a site by how it looks, you’ve got to dig into the backlink profile to be sure.
  2. Graham publishes multiple quality essays on startups and entrepreneurship – he seen as a source of great insights. So much so that he is regularly cited in top publications.
  3. Graham’s work and writing is so good that it has inspired others, not only in their writing, but in developing and growing their own businesses.

So, what about you?

Have you found sites that you weren’t sure of in the first place, but later discovered that they offered quality content?

Please share them in the comments below.