Backlinks are one of the most important factors in making a website rank in search engines such as Google, but how many backlinks do you need?
The answer isn’t necessarily that straightforward though and it all depends on where you are starting from and what you want to achieve.
In the most simplistic sense, if you want to get more conversions through your website you’ll need more traffic, rankings which are all gained through getting more backlinks.
But that doesn’t mean to say you need to continually get hundreds or thousands of links back to your website. Websites can outrank their competitors with a limited number of links.
The number of links you need depends on the number of links you’ve already got and the number of links your competitors in the SERPs already have.
If you engage someone to look into your SEO you should expect them to give you an estimate of the number and types of links you will need to get your website ranking above the competition. That’s because the number will be different for every business and every sector.
It’s essential businesses do all the basic links themselves. There are something like 30 – 50 links your business will generate just by having a presence online. Many of these links will come through social media accounts, industry platforms and governmental sites. Once you’ve got those in place, you can start looking at the new links from different websites.
But whilst you should be able to get a figure for how many backlinks are required to get a website to rank, that will always be an estimate. No two websites rank the same. There are over 200 ranking factors of which links is perhaps one of the most important but it’s not the only one.
You should always be looking to acquire links naturally, in a gradual and steady approach. At GrowTraffic we use a content marketing approach to SEO which not only enables us to increase the content and relevancy on the website but it also means through a distribution strategy we naturally create links and this distribution strategy also encourages website owners to link back to our content.
You should constantly review your backlink profile and that of your competitors. Even if you achieve position one in the rankings for a keyword, all it would take is for your competitor to produce a good piece of content or campaign which attracted some links, and this would change the whole dynamic of the SERPs you’re ranking in.
There are a whole number of things that need to be considered when looking at how many backlinks you need.
Backlinks of Competitors
The first place to look when thinking about the number of backlinks your website will need to rank is at the backlinks of your competitors. Do a quick search in Google, find the top 10 competitors for a search term. Then put the top websites through a tool such as SE Ranking, Majestic, Moz or aHrefs. Note down the number of backlinks each of those competitors have. Add up the number of backlinks of the websites in position 2 – 9 (ignore the number of backlinks a website at position 1 has and the website at position 10) then divide the total by 8. This should give you a rough indication of how many backlinks you require.
You will also want to take note of the Domain Authority and Page Authority of those domains and the pages that are ranking as well because, in many ways, quality is a more important metric than simply looking at how many backlinks you need.
How does the quality of backlinks impact the number of links needed?
Too many people look at the number of links and then come up with a simple figure and then wonder why they still aren’t ranking despite having more backlinks than all their competitors.
The first thing to remember is that no two backlinks are created equal. We tend to talk about links on a logarithmic scale from 1 – 100, where 1 is the weakest and 100 is the most powerful. A link from Google or from a governmental website could be worth close to 100, whereas a link from a brand new domain would generally only be worth 1. The thing is one good quality link could be worth hundreds, or thousands of lower quality links.
In fact, the importance of one high-quality link pointing at your website could be diluted by the volume of poor quality links. So finding the right balance between the volume of links you’ve got coming back to your website and also the value of those links is important.
In the olden days of SEO, one of the most important things you could do when link building was choosing the right anchor text. These days it’s important but in a different way. Now it’s important you don’t use too much of a keyword focus.
These are some of the factors that you could review to determine the quality of a link. If you answer yes to most of the below then you’re probably on the right lines:
- Is it from a trusted source?
- Is it on a page with relevant content?
- Will it send genuine traffic to your website?
- Does it use a synonym or partial match anchor text rather than an exact?
- Is the link contextual?
- Are other backlinks on the website to trusted websites?
- Is it from a unique domain?
- Is it free?
- Is it difficult to get the link?
And it’s not just about backlinks. If you’ve got a really well-optimised website then it’s more likely to outrank a poorly optimised website with loads of high-quality backlinks.
Even with the best quality backlinks in the world, it’s important to continue to add content to your website and promote that content to add additional relevancy and to demonstrate to Google that you are actively marketing your website.
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