“How many links will it take me to get to the first page of Google?”

This is probably the MOST asked question we get, and until now almost everyone in the SEO industry gave the most annoying answer ever–

“It depends…”

Well, today we’re going to try and actually answer that question!

Disclaimer: To be honest, I don’t want this to come across like we’re even going to pretend to give you a foolproof answer. There are so many influencing factors in rankings that it would be lying to pretend that we know with 100% certainty what it’s going to take to get you ranked. BUT we would like to give you a better answer than “it depends” so you have something to work with, backed up by data.

What Actually Matters In Ranking?

Let’s take a look at the data. We know that links are a very important factor, but just how important are they?

Backlinko did a study looking at the correlation between the number of backlinks a site has and the position that site ranks on page 1. As you can see, the number of backlinks is very important:

Image Source

Basically, this means that the most important thing you can do to get higher rankings is building more high-quality links to that specific page.

Domain Authority / Domain Rating Is A Factor:

The amount and quality of links coming to your entire domain can also help you rank.

You should also take note of the authority of the domains that are ranking for your chosen keywords. Check your domain authority or your competitor’s using our domain authority checker.

Not All Links Are Created Equal:

1 good link may be worth more than 10,000 “meh” links.

In fact, Google has said with the latest version of Penguin they tried to get more granular in their calculations and are discounting or ignoring links that shouldn’t have value.

Just because a website has the most linking root domains doesn’t mean it’s going to win. Link quality, strength, context all matter.

There Are More Factors Than Just Links:

There are lots more factors than just links as well including:

And the closer you get to the top of page 1, the more these factors are going to matter.

With that all said, what can we do to get an objective estimate?

The Tool: How Many Links You’ll Need

After all the disclaimers, here’s how to figure out how many links it takes:

  1. Go to SEMrush Keyword Overview and put in the keyword you want to rank for.
  2. SEMrush will tell you on average, how many links it will take to get to page 1.
  3. Additionally you can check out the ranking pages to see the mixture of values.

You will probably notice that there is an enormous variance in the number of quality links websites ranking on page one — That’s why it’s an average, and NOT an exact figure.

But once you have this number, you’ll have a good idea of what to shoot for in terms of how many links you need to build.

How Many Backlinks Does A New Website Need?

As per Ahrefs, “The more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it gets from Google.” Backlinks are one of the premier ways of drawing an audience from authority sites in your niche, and can potentially increase your Domain Rating, Google Pagerank, Alexa Rank, and even Domain Authority. 

Of course, these links have to be high-quality and relevant to your website’s niche. High-quality backlinks will never hurt your SERP rankings. A new site can benefit from five to seven high-quality links every month for a sustained period of time.

Once the site’s DA grows, you can increase the number of quality links every month to increase its position. Think of links as hashtags used in social media, such as Instagram and Twitter. They can improve your site’s exposure, visibility, and brand trust in your content. Links deliver authority to your website, improving your Google ranking.

Many quality backlinks are always a good thing but don’t forget to also optimize your site’s meta tags, URL structure, and meta description. 

The more optimized your site is, the fewer backlinks you’ll need. Consequently, if you have many links, but your page isn’t optimized, it will be difficult to compete against another website with a similar amount of links but higher optimization. This is because a poorly optimized site decreases the relevance and authority provided by the backlinks.

In short, building links without keeping your page properly optimized in tandem will waste your efforts.

Quality SEO is like a snowball: the higher your performance, the easier it is to perform strategies that help increase it. Once your website traffic improves, you’ll obtain future links almost effortlessly.

It’s also crucial to keep your content evergreen. You can ensure this by keeping your page updated with the latest information.

A good rule of thumb is to update your page’s content every ninety days. Even if your site starts ranking and your DA increasing, avoid getting complacent with your link building. It’s important to keep growing your links.

Are Backlinks Still Important?

Backlinks are the foundation of Google’s search algorithm and play a key role in determining where your site ranks.

The quality of your backlinks is now more important when determining your site rank. Back in 2015, almost any backlink could improve your ranking.

In the present day, Google has become better at identifying low-quality links and rewarding high-quality links. Unpaid links from authority sites are some of the most valuable ones today.

How Do I Get Backlinks?

Participate in a link building campaign to get backlinks. A link building campaign is a series of strategies performed to acquire free backlinks.

Here are a couple of strategies to do so:

Identify your competitors 

You can use The HOTH’s free backlink checker tool and type in your competitor. There, you can search for their most popular pages and their most visited links. Through the Backlinks report, you can identify the articles with the highest amount of backlinks.

Once you have found the pages you’re trying to compete with and how many backlinks they have in the report, you have the exact number of backlinks you need to outdo to rank higher than your competition.

Write great content

The best thing you can do to increase your content’s ranking is to write great content. Better long-form articles that use a higher amount of keywords than the competition. Go in-depth with your website’s articles, more so than the competition.

Build backlinks to pages that have credibility in your niche.

Network within your community

Use existing relationships, such as acquaintances in your network or even online communities in your niche who have a website. 

Believe it or not, someone in your local community might have a website relevant to your niche, and you can reach out to them and see if they are willing to place links to your site on one of their relevant pages.

Guest post

Guest posting is another great way to build good backlinks. When you guest post, you create content that’s posted on another site, attributing it with a link back to your site. 

Increasing your exposure by handpicking high-authority websites in your niche is the most efficient way to build brand trust. It also has the added benefit of exposing your content to the other site’s audience, which can organically drive traffic to your website.

To find out which sites are best for guest posting, create a list of sites within your niche. Open up SEMRush and go to Gap Analysis, and then Bulk Analysis. Paste in the possible guest post websites and you’ll find the total organic traffic for each. 

Only look up websites with recently published or updated content in your niche. The recommended timeframe for this is a site that has been updated in the last ninety days, minimum.

Type in the website’s name on Google + “write for us”. You can also search for a “write for us” page directly on their web pages. If they have one available, it means they publish guest content and most likely have their submission guidelines available.

Reach out to them through their contact page and find out how to submit your guest post, making it clear that you want to add backlinks to your own site. If you’re already linking to a high-quality website yourself and forwarding traffic from your own site, it’s also a smart idea to reach out to them via email.

If they don’t have a “write for us” page, you can still connect with the site and inquire anyways.

On the other hand, you can combine guest posting with a reverse guest posting strategy to maximize results from your outreach.

Reverse guest posting involves getting an industry expert to write content for your site. It works as well as traditional guest posting, especially if this industry expert has an audience of their own. This is much easier to pull off if your website already has an audience that can benefit the guest poster.

How Many Backlinks Does My Site Need?

Another accurate indicator of the number of new links you’ll need to increase your SEO rankings for a keyword is the number of backlinks your competitors have for that same keyword and the quality for each backlink.

As a rule of thumb, if you get more backlinks of equal or higher quality for a keyword than your competition, you’ll rank higher than them.

Building at least 100 backlinks is a good number for many low to mid-competition niches. This can change if your niche is a high-competition niche, such as digital marketing. However, don’t start your first day of link building by creating a hundred from the get-go, as these could harm your site if they are bad links.

The words that you can click in the backlink are called anchor text. The more relevant they are towards your niche, the higher-quality the backlink. It’s a good idea for the anchor text to contain the main keyword of the article you want to rank for.

What Is A Quality Backlink Profile?

A backlink is considered high-quality if it meets the following requirements:

  • It’s on a page with more links to high-quality sites.
  • It leads to a website with a high Domain Authority.
  • It’s from a trusted source within the specified niche.
  • It’s from a different website than your existing links.
  • It’s not a reciprocal backlink.
  • It’s not a “spammy” link.

Search engines have algorithms that determine each of these requirements. For example, many of them have a collection of seed sites considered trustworthy, such as Wikipedia. 

Reciprocal links used to be exploited in the past, prompting Google to reduce the value it put on them. They still maintain some of their quality, but the highest quality backlinks should be from sites that you’re simultaneously not linking to your own.

It’s much better to have fewer links from different relevant sites than it is to have hundreds of links from sites hosted in the same IP address.

What Are Dofollow Backlinks?

Backlinks should contain the dofollow attribute if they are to improve your page rank. Follow links count as points that push SEO.

On the other hand, a nofollow link doesn’t count in a page’s favor, nor does it increase a page’s placement in SERPs. 

A nofollow link includes the following attribute in its structure: rel=”nofollow”.

Nofollow links might seem like SEO kryptonite, but they are necessary to reduce spam in the blogging community. A webmaster might find it useful to use nofollow links in comments, forums, or paid links.

Can I Rank Without Backlinks?

It’s entirely possible that a page on a website can rank without necessarily reaching a specific number of backlinks due to their high-quality content.

Major authority sites, such as Huffington Post, Forbes, or even a famous blogger can rank on the first page without even using direct links. These sites are the exception, not the norm. Most websites will require a certain number of backlinks to high-authority sites if they are to rank.

On top of that, if your website is in a relatively uncommon niche or one that hardly gets any backlinks anyway, it might be easier to rank with a low number of backlinks or even none at all.

If so, then a smarter SEO strategy for you would be to focus on producing content instead of link building. 

Despite this, it’s a smart idea to begin your backlinking strategy with internal links to your own site. Every website should interlink to other pages within. 

Case on point, you can write the best piece of content out there, but without links, your competitors will win. 

Quality Links Matter More In Your Link Building Strategy

Instead of worrying about the number of links you need, concentrate on the long game of building quality backlinks.

Guest posting is the best way to start your link building content marketing strategy, as it has the benefit of providing you with a link and also exposing you to a wider community.

Backlinks are more effective if they are high-quality, and less so if your site isn’t optimized along with them. When improving your website’s backlinks, quality will always matter more than quantity.

Want some help figuring out your link building plan? Just book a meeting with us here and get a personalized strategy!