In the dynamic world of SEO, backlinks are one of the most important factors when it comes to online visibility.
Backlinks are endorsements from other websites showing that they believe your content offers readers value.
But the heavily debated question among website owners and SEO experts is how many backlinks you actually need to dominate search results.
While backlinks were once considered the main ranking factor, search engines have other considerations these days. A comprehensive approach is key, and understanding the intricacies of backlinks is essential.
In this article, we will discuss:
➡️ If backlinks are still a ranking factor.
➡️ The importance of high-quality backlinks.
➡️ How many backlinks you need to rank well.
We’ve also included a list of expert-approved tips and tricks to help you generate high-quality backlinks and become an authority in your industry.
🤔 Are Backlinks a Ranking Factor in 2023?
Backlinks have always been an important part of search engine optimization (SEO), and their value only increases as search engine algorithms become more complex.
Although recent algorithm updates have seen their importance decrease, backlinks are still relevant today. According to Google, their role has evolved, and how you should use them has changed too.
The search engine now places greater emphasis on the quality of backlinks rather than the quantity of links.
This means that the best way to push your website up the search engine results pages (SERPs) is to build backlinks from reputable, authoritative, and relevant websites.
🔍 How do backlinks affect search rankings?
In the past, backlinks were generally all about quantity. This meant that the more backlinks a website had, the better its chances were of ranking high.
However, this didn’t always deliver credible results for users, and spammy websites that provided zero value began emerging.
Recently, search engines have become more complex and have added an extra layer of requirements for how they use backlinks to rank websites. The aim is to ensure that the websites that rank highly are the ones with real authority and value.
Google’s SpamBrain software is a significant development that is making spam-free ranking possible.
This spam-detection algorithm is designed to find and remove low-quality and spam-like backlinks from search results. It also removes the website using the links from its rankings.
What does this mean for websites trying to improve their rankings in 2023? Simply put, you should prioritize quality over quantity at all costs.
Google’s 2022 Link Spam Update stresses the importance of having high-quality backlinks if you want your site to rank in the SERPs.
💡 What Does a High-Quality Backlink Look Like?
High-quality backlinks are key to a ranking website, so it’s important to know exactly what you need to recognize them. Here’s what you should look out for:
Relevance: Backlinks from websites relevant to your industry or niche are considered more valuable than those random sites. When similar websites reference your content, it tells search engines that it is valuable to others in your industry.
Authority: Backlinks from pages that already have a high authority are considered more valuable than lower-ranking sites. These backlinks also have a bigger impact on your rankings.
Editorial merit: These backlinks are naturally earned from other pages, based on the quality and value of your content. The best ones are not bought or manipulated, which indicates true quality.
Diversity: Backlinks from a variety of authoritative domains signal the value of your content to search engines. It also indicates that your content will be useful to a broader audience, which helps to improve rankings.
🔗 What is a backlink, and how does it impact my search engine ranking?
A backlink is a link from one website to another. The person writing the content links to the other website because it is useful to the reader.
Some of the reasons for linking to another website include:
It features relevant research
It’s a source of facts
It’s a place where you can get more information
It enables the reader to take further action—for example, buying a product
Search engines consider backlinks when ranking a website on the SERPs. That’s because backlinks indicate that a website is creating valuable, relevant, and trustworthy content.
Ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs) is essential for building a solid online presence and increasing sales. This is because when your website ranks well, it becomes more visible.
The more visibility your website has, the more your authority and credibility start to improve. This can help position your website above competitors, helping you to win more customers and grow your business.
Generating high-quality content
To generate high-quality backlinks, you must ensure that your content is of the highest possible quality for your site visitors. This helps to increase natural links to it, proving that your website is valuable and worth Google’s time.
This means that your content should:
Be valuable to the reader or solve a problem they have.
Contain well-researched information that is supported by credible sources.
Provide unique insights.
Offer actionable tips and solutions.
Be original and engaging.
Be written with authority.
Use relevant keywords, proper formatting, and other optimization techniques.
By creating high-quality content, you can improve your chances of generating valuable backlinks to improve your website ranking.
👀 How Many Backlinks Does My Website Need?
One of the most common questions website owners ask is how many backlinks they need to rank well in SERPs.
While there is no one-size-fits-all number, there are some methods you can use to determine how many backlinks you will need to rank decently.
These methods largely focus on identifying your SEO competition for similar keywords in your industry or niche and analyzing competitor authority.
Once you have this information, you can start developing SEO campaigns to help you build backlinks and achieve ranking success.
🤔 How to determine the right amount of backlinks for your website
Determining the number of backlinks you need can be tricky and time-consuming if you don’t know where to start.
In this section, we’ve outlined two simple ways to determine the number of backlinks you’ll need for your website.
✅ Identify the number of backlinks for similar pages in your industry
Depending on your industry or niche, you may need more or fewer backlinks than other websites.
Some industries are more competitive than others, so you’ll need a number of high-quality backlinks to rank well.
For example, ranking in the SEO niche is difficult because it’s full of industry experts who know exactly what needs to be done to grab Google’s attention.
If you want your business to stand out, you’ll have to spend a lot of time creating valuable content before seeing results.
To view and analyze the backlink profile of similar websites, you can use SEO tools like the Ahrefs’ ‘Site Explorer’ feature.
The backlinks metric on Ahrefs indicates how many websites have linked to that specific site. You may need to match or exceed that number to rank higher than your competitors.
✅ Determine which pages you need to build backlinks to
It’s important to know that not every page on your website is worth building backlinks to. You should aim to build backlinks to pages that generate leads and include keywords—more on this later.
This will help you to determine the number of backlinks you’ll need for each page you want to rank for, too.
These tools show you which keywords your website pages are currently ranking for. You’ll also be able to identify new keywords you can target.
You can use their ‘Keyword Difficulty’ indicator, which will show you an estimate range of how many backlinks you need.
💡 Keyword Tip
Avoid targeting the high-traffic, high-competition terms that can be difficult to rank for, especially when you’re first starting out. Instead, focus on those with a lower search volume and keywords where lower authority sites are ranking.
📊 Factors That Affect the Number of Backlinks Your Website Needs
There are a number of other factors that will influence the number of backlinks your website needs. Understanding them can help you build a strong backlink profile.
💪 Domain authority (DA) or domain rating (DR)
The DA or DR of your website is represented on a scale of 1 to 100, with higher scores indicating greater authority and potential to rank in the SERPs.
This metric is calculated by considering factors like:
The total number of backlinks pointing to your domain.
The quality of those links.
If you have a high DA, you may have a better chance of ranking at the top of search results, and you’ll need fewer backlinks to do so.
Lower DR scores typically indicate that your site needs to gain more authority before it can start ranking, which means you may require more high-quality backlinks.
It’s important to know that search engines don’t consider DA when they determine the ranking position of a website. DA is only an attempt to measure your ranking capabilities and shouldn’t be taken as an absolute data point.
Rather, SEO professionals can use the DA of a website as a reference point from which they can develop a backlink strategy.
What Is a Good Domain Authority or Rating?
What is considered a good or strong DA or DR will vary depending on the industry you’re in. It’s also important to remember that DA is relative and shouldn’t be used to measure absolute success.
In terms of numerical value, a DA score above 50 is generally considered “high” authority.
Very few websites achieve scores in the 80s and 90s. Those scores are usually reserved for extremely influential and authoritative websites like Google, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
🔑 Keyword difficulty (KD)
Keyword difficulty (KD) is a 100-point metric that measures how competitive a word or phrase is in the SERPs. It was created by Moz to help SEO specialists develop keyword strategies.
This metric provides an overview of how difficult it would be to rank for a specific keyword compared to other similar websites.
When analyzing the competitiveness of a keyword, many SEO tools will take the backlink profiles of top-ranking websites into account.
If a number of authoritative websites are ranking for a specific keyword, there’s a good chance that the KD will be high.
For example, the image below shows the SERP overview for the keyword “link building”. The KD, calculated using Ahrefs, is 85.
The top 10 results will typically have an extremely high domain rating, meaning the websites are considered highly authoritative.
If you want to rank for that specific keyword (“link building”), you would need to have more than 400 high-quality backlinks to compete for one of these spots.
🔗 Internal linking
Internal linking is an SEO strategy that involves linking an individual page on your website to another page on that site. Like external backlinks, they are created using anchor text, which is the clickable text that site visitors can use to navigate to other pages.
Using internal linking strategically can impact the overall number of backlinks you’ll need to rank in SERPs.
Here's how that works:
Distribute link equity: When you link one of your web pages to another, the linking page passes on some of its authority to the target page. This is called link equity or link juice. Having strong internal links pointing to authoritative pages on your site can help improve your rankings. This means that you might need fewer external backlinks to support the page.
Support lower authority pages: Internal links can support web pages with a lower authority or fewer external backlinks. By including links to your lower authority pages in a higher authority page, you indicate they are valuable and trustworthy. Over time, this can help with visibility and rankings.
Enhancing content relevance: Internal linking can help you create connections between related content on your website. By linking similar pages together, you create a network of information that improves search engines’ understanding of your website. This helps search engines to index your pages, which may increase authority.
It’s important to know that while internal linking can be an effective part of your SEO strategy, it shouldn’t replace link building.
External backlinks remain an essential part of building your website’s authority and credibility to search engines.
💬 Quality vs. Quantity
In the world of backlinks, the debate between quality and quantity is an ongoing discussion.
What’s important to know is that while quantity is important, it’s the quality of the backlinks that generally makes a greater impact.
What determines the quality of a backlink?
The quality of a backlink is determined by several factors that indicate its authority, relevance, and trustworthiness.
Search engine crawlers use complex algorithms to evaluate the quality of backlinks, considering the following key factors:
👉 Source authority: The authority of the website that points back to yours is essential. Backlinks from reputable sources considered experts in their field generally carry more weight than others. Generating backlinks from these websites indicates to the bots that your content is relevant and worthy of being indexed.
👉 Relevance: Crawlers typically look for connections between backlinked pages to determine if the information is relevant to users. Backlinks from authoritative websites that cover a similar topic to yours are considered more valuable than others. It also shows the bots that your content is relevant to your industry.
👉 Link placement: The placement of backlinks matters more than you realize. Links appearing within content in the main body of the web page are more influential than those in a footer or sidebar. Search engines often assign higher value content to contextual backlinks embedded in relevant and informative content.
👉 Link diversity: Although relevance is key, having a diverse backlink profile that includes various domains and different types of websites is also important. This helps the anchor text to appear more natural and indicates that your content is being linked to by a broader range of sources. Over time, this helps to build credibility.
👉 Editorial control: Backlinks gained on merit instead of through manipulative methods carry more weight. When websites link to your content willingly and based on their own judgment, it indicates genuine support. This helps to build your credibility and authority in the industry.
👉 Traffic and engagement: Backlinks gained from websites that generate a lot of traffic are usually considered high quality. This is because the backlink indicates that many people find value in the content, and they are more likely to visit your website too.
Although these factors are helpful guides, remember that the quality of a backlink can vary depending on your industry.
By focusing on acquiring backlinks for authoritative websites and relevant sources, you can ensure that your profile positively influences your SEO performance.
💡 What Is a Search Engine Crawler or Bot?
Search engine crawlers—also known as bots or spiders—are automated software programs designed to discover and index web pages on the Internet.
The bots are constantly ‘crawling’ the web by following links and collecting information about websites. This information is then used to build the search engine’s index.
Once a web page has been crawled and indexed, it becomes searchable and can start to appear on and rank on result pages.
👍 How to generate high-quality links
Generating quality links is a fundamental aspect of an effective SEO strategy. In this section, we’ll take a look at a few methods and best practices you can use to build a high-quality backlink profile.
🖥️ Guest blogging
Guest blogging involves creating content for other websites within your industry or niche. It allows you to showcase your expertise, reach a new audience, and earn backlinks.
If you’re considering guest blogging, remember to focus on reputable websites that align with your target audience. You should also look for websites with strong domain authority.
To ensure that you generate high-quality backlinks from your guest blogs, your content should:
Be well-written and thoroughly researched.
Solve a problem for the readers.
Be properly formatted.
Include relevant backlinks to your own websites.
When done correctly, guest blogging is a great way to help you reach your backlink goals. It’s important to stay focused on your target audience to ensure that you generate high-quality, organic traffic.
🕵️ Broken link building
Broken link building involves finding ‘dead’ links on other websites and reaching out to the owners to suggest replacing them with relevant content from your page.
💡 What Is a Broken or Dead Link?
These are links to web pages that can’t be found or accessed by users when they click on them.
It can be harmful to your SEO strategies if you have broken links on your website because this signals that your pages may be old or outdated.
A broken link strategy requires thorough research to identify them on authoritative websites within your industry. Our article tells you exactly how to do this too.
To make the most out of broken link building, craft personalized outreach messages to send to these websites that highlight the issue while providing a suitable link replacement.
Not only does this strategy help you earn quality backlinks, but it also helps build relationships with other website owners in your niche.
🗞️ PR link building
This link-building strategy uses public relations (PR) tactics to earn backlinks from news publications, journalists, and authoritative websites.
It mainly involves creating newsworthy and shareable content that attracts attention from journalists, such as:
Building relationships with journalists and influencers in your industry gives you the opportunity to position yourself as a valuable resource. When your content gets picked up, you’ll earn high-quality backlinks that improve your authority and visibility in SERPs.
🤝 Editorial outreach
Editorial outreach strategies focus on reaching out to editors, bloggers, journalists, and content creators in your industry for collaborations.
These collaborations may include guest posts or mentions that typically result in increased traffic and backlinks.
💡How to Create a Successful Editorial Outreach Strategy
To kickstart your editorial outreach strategy, develop an original and engaging pitch that shows the website owner the value your content can bring to their audience.
You can also personalize your outreach messages and emphasize how your content aligns with another person’s readership.
When your content is featured on these authoritative websites, it usually results in high-quality backlinks.
Wrapping up on How Many Backlinks You Need to Rank
Even though their role has evolved, backlinks continue to play a crucial part in SEO strategies and search engine rankings.
Once you understand the importance of backlinks and how they work, you can leverage them to help you reach your SEO goals.
Building high-quality backlinks from reputable and authoritative websites is key to improving your credibility. By focusing on relevance, editorial merit, and diversity, you’ll be well on your way to building a powerful backlink profile.
To learn more about how we use these strategies and our industry expertise to help improve your website visibility, feel free to visit the LinkBuilder website and blog.
You can also contact us to find out how we help brands to build natural, high-quality backlink profiles.