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May 29, 2013

Link Building: How Many Backlinks Do You Need?

Link Building Is Important For SEOBacklinks are links from another person’s domain to yours and are good for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Also known as external links, they are like little votes for your website, and if you have lots of “votes”, the search engines will assume that you have a good website and rank you higher.

Do you really need links to rank your site?

They are just one part of your website’s SEO, so the answer is no. It is possible for a website to be ranked highly, even if it has few (or no) backlinks at all. However, it is turning out to be increasingly difficult to have your website ranked highly on the search engine result pages (SERPs) without having a decent number of links pointing to your website.

How many backlinks are needed to rank a website?

Again, you do not need any to rank your website. As soon as the search engines crawl and index your site, they will do the ranking on their own terms (based on a number of factors and not all of them are known). As time progresses and your SEO improve, they may decide to rank you higher. This will mean that your web page will appear closer to the first page of the search engine results page.

How many links are needed to rank your website highly?

If you want your website to appear closer to the first page of the search engine results, then a fair number of quality backlinks is desirable. But, there is no set number for the amount of links you need. One website may only need a handful of links in order to help it rank highly, whereas another website may need thousands of links – in the end it all depends upon the ‘keywords’ you are competing for and the level of competition for each such keyword.

How can I figure out how many backlinks I need?

There are two ways, and the first is through trial and error. You simply keep building relevant links that point to your website, and then monitor the results. As you gain more backlinks, you should see your position on the search engine results start to climb upwards. If your website stops climbing the search engine results, but is still not on the first page (for a relevant keyword), then it means you need to start concentrating on the other aspects of your website’s SEO like on-page optimisation, social sharing and internal link building.

The other way you can judge how many back-links you need is through looking at your competition. Run a Google search on the key-phrase/keywords that you wish to optimize your site for. You will see a search engine results page that is populated by websites that are in competition with you. You need to use an online tool and see how many back-links those sites have.

Take a sample of around ten of your competitors and note down how many backlinks each of them has for certain important pages on their website. You now need to find the “mean” number, which is derived from all ten websites. The “mean” number is a little bit like an average, except that it is not as skewed by anomalous numbers. Once you have your “mean” number worked out, you will know how many backlinks you will need for your website.

While numbers matter, quality matters the most.

Any discussion on link-building is never complete without a touchdown on the aspect of quality. In the post Penguin 2.0 environment, link-building is all about ensuring quality. If a large proportion of your links come from low-quality (read spam) websites, search engines might consider your website to be a ‘spam’ too – something that might lead to a drastic fall in search rankings (and the consequent fall in traffic).

Equally important is link relevancy i.e earning links from sites relevant to your content. For example, if your site hosts content about ‘Smartphones’, then getting a link from a ‘technology’ website will be more valuable than a link from a ‘pet care’ website.

NoFollow and DoFollow

All links are DoFollow by default. The rel= “nofollow” attribute is used to make links NoFollow i.e to tell search engines not to pass link juice (page rank) from the page with hosts the link to the page where the link points. Generally DoFollow links are your best bet when it comes to link building. However a NoFollow link coming in from a authority website like Wikipedia is still worth a lot more than a DoFollow link from a spam website.

Search engines do not entirely ignore NoFollow links and therefore a good mix of both NoFollow and Followed links, as a part of your link-building strategy, can give your SEO a serious boost. This also seems more natural too.

Your best bet is to grow your SEO

Instead of trying to get as many backlinks as possible, it is better to employ a number of SEO techniques at the same time. Never ignore internal link building as it plays a very important role in your search optimisation efforts. Do it slowly over time so that you website rises up gradually through the search engine results. If you suddenly run out and build lots of links to your website in a very short space of time, the search engines might assume that you are employing Black-hat SEO for your link-building efforts, and penalize your site accordingly.

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