How many links do you need to see your site listed on the 1st page of Google?
This is perhaps the MOST commonly asked questions by newbies in digital marketing and at times by webmasters who are trying link building for some time now.
What surprises is almost everybody in the SEO world used to give the same irritating yet common answer–
“It depends” which means uncertainty (it will be different in different conditions).
Well, in this article I’m going to be candid in answering this million dollar question!
Fine, right off the sleeve, here’s the shocker: There’s neither a single answer nor a good answer to this question. For more than one reason, it is wrong to ask this question when aspiring for the 1st page ranking for your keywords, because the entire concept of Google 1st page ranking revolves around QLTY (quality) over QTY (quantity).
So the answer is to deep dig into backlinks profile to your website i.e
- How Google weighs your backlinks
- What kinds of links have the highest SEO value
- niche and relevancy of the backlinks
- Contextual, no-follow or do-follow links
Let’s explore the basics first…
Spoiler: Honestly, I cannot even lie or pretend to tell you with a cent percent guarantee how many links Google is going to consider listing your site on the 1st page of its search result. After all, there are 200 odd factors influencing your site’s 1st-page ranking. BUT for sure the answer would be something different and superior to the common answer “it depends. you can, at last, have something to lean, backed by logic and data.
Backlinks & 1st Page Ranking in Google: How Google Ranks Your Site
PageRank/authority of backlink sites is one of the major factors that Google considers to decide your website’s overall search engine ranking. It’s a known factor that backlinks still continue to be among the most vital ones having an influence on your site’s search engine ranking.
When your website is being pointed to by several sites having a good authority (PageRank), it is more likely to show up on the 1st page of SERP.
Spoiler: The simple theory works behind PR is – more quality and relevant links a webpage gets from other sites, the importance that page is considered higher. And the more trustworthy these linking pages are, the more weightage the linked page gets.
PR (PageRank) can be a value starting from 0-10. A webpage with PR0 is crap, like some unsystematic content showing the personal blog of a teen that is found to be copied or have machine written content. A page with PR10 is likely to be a page to be amongst the most popular sites online and with an incomparable reputation. Even extremely popular webpages like eBay or ESPN will usually only has PR 9/8.
It’s also noteworthy that page rank authority is not always static, rather increases or decreases exponentially. A link from the PR3 page is much more valuable than that of a PR2/1 page.
This is because we know that quality links are crucial for SERP listing and ranking, and the link numbers hardly matter. A single backlink coming from a webpage with a high PR score (5 or more), is way more worthy than dozens of low-quality backlinks.
The are many factors like, domain authority, page authority, trustflow etc, than can help you evaluate the quality of your backlink.
And here comes the next big question:
What is a Quality Link?
Not all of you will have the privilege to directly link to Amazon, Wikipedia, and other high PR sites. So, sites with moderate PR but qualifying the following criteria which Google considers while judging the quality of the link back will be okay.
- The links should be from a related source, either on the same subject or common ground of interest- which is other wise called are relevancy of a backlink
- The linking should be done to a reliable source, with lots of quality links from related pages or high PR.
- The linking page experiences a high level of traffic.
- The anchor text used for linking is a close fit for the page content being pointed to. That means, a link with anchor text “baseball statistics” does increase the linked site’s ranking for baseball statistics, instead of football.
- The links coming from high-authority or high-quality websites are also helpful.
- The links should come from different sources, not from different pages of a single site. The no of unique domains point to the site.
- The linking page should have fewer backlinks. That means they should not be a link-aggregator such as Reddit.
- The links are better for free rather than being paid or a part of an exchange program or acquired form a personal blog network(PBN)
If the linking pages qualify for all these criteria, you will no doubt see a positive change in your site ranking on Google. However, it is not required to meet all the above criteria. High traffic volume can overshadow the topic of not so relevant.
Then again, a lot of poor, crappy, or paid links can hamper your site’s Google ranking.
Now, certainly, we have come to the core of the topic: what precautions you should take at the time of link back so that you can enjoy the maximum benefit in ensuring relevance and authority?
Act smart and practice the following:
- Keep all the key pages just a click away from the homepage. Regularly track your visitor stats and maintain your site in such a way that popular pages can be easily accessed.
- Try to improve your domain authority by giving the overall assessment of your site instead of independent pages.
- Always look out and fix the broken links without delay. When the number of 301 redirects or broken links is in excess, you can feel your reputation getting damaged.
- Take note of your outbound links, especially the most outdated, disgraceful ones from useless sources and remove them fast. The “qlty over qty” theory applies to your own site links too.
- Replace all the pages which are hardly or never visited, unless there is a good reason to keep them on. Too many non-visited pages on a website create a poor impression on Google for you.
- Try anchor text variation whenever you are linking to the same favorite source, repeatedly like a Wikipedia article as an immediate reference. It may look like spammy link to Google.
Now you know what steps you can take to improve the chances of quality linking for your website. Let’s, consider a few other factors which can surely influence your site’s Google ranking in a positive manner.
What More Matters for Your Site’s Google Ranking?
Check for the data below. We all know that backlinks are a crucial ranking factor, but there are a few more factors that are counted upon along with them. Are they not?
A thorough study by Ahrefs on correlated ranking factors and how many unique domains are linked to a page found them to have a great influence on site ranking.
(UR alias “URL Rating” scales the potential of a chosen URL’s backlink summary and the possibility of that URL to achieve high Google ranking.) In other words, it shows that the best thing you can do to make your site attain higher rankings is linking it to more and more good and relevant pages.
There are additional things to consider though:
#1 Domain Rating or Domain Authority is a Key Factor:
The volume and quality of backlinks pointing to your entire site can be useful in higher ranking.
You need to be aware of the authority of the top ten ranking pages for your targeted keywords.
#2 Not the Quality of All Links Are Equal:
A single quality link can have more value than thousands of spammy or poor links.
In its latest Penguin update, Google has made it clear that it has tried to be rougher in its ranking calculations and is skipping or overlooking links that don’t have any value.
For this reason, a website with its link structure built with most of the root domains is not going to win in the ranking competition. Link context, strength and quality all count for exclusively.
#3 Ranking is based on Many Factors beyond Links:
There are many more factors going beyond links that matter for ranking:
- On-Page Optimization
- Content Depth
- Content Relevance
- Search Intent
- Page Loading Speed
- CTR (Click Through Rate)
And the faster your site starts to climb to the top of the 1st page, the more will affect the above factors.
With all these things said and shown what more can you do to find a rough estimate of the number of links to your site that should be built?
Ahref Keyword Tool: How Many Backlinks You May Need
Along with the spoilers, here’s given how to point out how many backlinks it may require to help your site placed on 1st page of Google:
- Use Ahrefs Keyword Explorerand enter the specific keyword you would like to rank on the 1st page for.
- Ahrefs tool will display how many links it may require on average to make to the 1st page of Google.
3. Moreover, you can take a look at the top pages for this keyword to observe the mix of values:
It is quite possible that you may find out that there is a huge variance in the number of links all these webpages ranking for the given keyword on 1st page – That’s why we tell it’s a standard and not an accurate figure.
But when you get this average number, you have a fair idea of what to expect in terms of the number of links you require for your 1st-page ranking.
What Types Of Links Do You Need to Build?
When the Ahrefs tool displays the average, you should take this number as the number of QUALITY backlinks you should build to your own website.
A great example of quality links to build for 1st-page ranking is guest posts and other in-content links.
In reality, we are telling you to consider building high-quality backlinks as many as possible—preferably to internal pages rather than your homepage.
Can you ask why internal pages? Well, building links to internal pages is far easier than the homepage. Just give it a thought… would you like to link to a homepage dealing in service/product or an informative content featured on a deep page? A deep page, isn’t it?
As far as the number of links considered, you may not be able to outsmart sites having thousands of links with this linking tactics but will surely have lots of authoritative links to beat the competition and boost your site’s ranking.
As you carry out link-building for your site using the above formula, you’ll notice that your site starts ranking for more long-tail keywords. Over the passage of time, you can see it ranking for more generic terms, but most of your organic traffic will be from long search phrases (3- or 4 -word phrases).
When making the most of linking strategies to enhance your traffic volume, remember that the simplest form of building links is through the practice of content marketing. By producing educational or informative content, rather than approaching webmasters for links, you can definitely improve the chances of users linking and sharing your content.
The only problem is that your site ranking may not show up until the first three months or so, but after that, you could see ranking improves little by little. There won’t be a sharp rise in ranking all of a sudden but things are going to improve after 3-4 months of linking based on the above criteria.
Nevertheless, there is any shortcut that would lead to a sharp rise in your site’s ranking. Just be consistent in your linking practice even if you don’t find any immediate result in the ranking matter.
Do you need expert help with your link building program? Just call us or email us to book a consultation with us for a customized strategy!
Any queries? Comment below and let us know about it!