As soon as someone decides to perform SEO for their website, the first question that comes to mind is
How many backlinks will I need to rank on page #1 of Google search results?
Since backlinks are one of the major SEO ranking signals, you obviously need them to climb the search engine ladder.
But, how many backlinks are enough to rank at the top?
Well, that depends on what you are planning to achieve and what type of keywords you are trying to target through your SEO campaigns.
If you target keywords that have low competition, you won’t need as many backlinks to rank on the first page.
In fact, there are several websites out there that don’t have too many backlinks but still manage to rank at the top of Google search results.
How’s that possible? Because they are targeting keywords that have comparatively lower keyword difficulty, i.e., keywords that are less competitive.
Here’s an example:
Cars on Demand, a UK-based car rental service provider, is ranking at the top for keyword ‘monthly car rental UK’.
Let’s pop this page URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and check it’s backlink profile.
As you can see that the page has only 53 backlinks, but is still ranking at #1 position in SERP.
This is possible because the keyword ‘monthly car rental UK’ has a relatively lower Keyword Difficulty of 7 (according to Ahrefs).
Looking at the above example, it is clear that you can easily rank your web pages with a minimum number of backlinks if the keywords that you’re targeting are less competitive.
However, that doesn’t mean that competition is the only factor that decides the number of backlinks you’ll require to rank on #1 page.
Some of the additional factors that determine the number of backlinks include.
When it comes to building backlinks, you should always follow the ‘quality over quantity’ approach.
Why? Because Google favors backlinks that have high quality, i.e., backlinks generated from relevant and authority domains.
It is worth noting that one high-quality backlink will have the same value as 100 irrelevant backlinks.
So, a website with 10 quality backlinks will still outrank a website that has 100+ low-quality links.
That’s why it is always advised to build quality backlinks from relevant websites, especially when you are planning to secure and sustain the #1 position in SERP.
While we’re at it, let’s discuss factors that make a backlink high quality.
How to Determine the Backlink Quality
Following are the factors that’ll help you decide the quality of backlinks.
The source from where the backlink is generated should be relevant to the website.
For instance, if an ‘app development service provider’ links to a blog that talks about ‘app development trends’, it would be considered relevant.
On the other hand, if it links to a page that talks about ‘beauty tips’, it would be considered irrelevant. Because there is no relation between the two domains.
Let’s take a look at another example.
Thinkmobiles is a website whose content revolves around software development.
Here’s what the backlink profile looks like for the website.
As you can see all the backlinks pointing to thinkmobiles are related to software/web development. That’s why they are considered quality backlinks.
Domain Authority (DA)
When you acquire a backlink from a website with high domain authority, it will automatically become high quality.
Reason being, high DA means that the website falls under the category of authority domains and is considered trusted sources by Google.
It means that while crawling your website’s backlink profile, Google will consider your site as an authority as well and boost its position towards the top.
The anchor text (clickable part of the link) also determines the quality of the backlink.
When your anchor text is exact or similar to the target keyword (for which you’re trying to rank), the backlink quality will increase as well.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should always use the ‘exact keyword’ as the anchor text while building backlinks.
So, it is always a good strategy to use keyword variations.
For instance, if you are trying to rank for ‘car accident lawyer’, the anchor texts should have a mix of phrases like ‘accident attorney’, ‘attorney for car accident’, ‘personal injury lawyer’, etc.
This will help you build a strong backlink profile for your site.
I think I went a little off the track, right?
So, let’s get back to our main topic and discuss the second factor that’ll answer your question ‘how many backlinks I need?’.
The second factor that determines the number of backlinks is on-page SEO.
If your site’s on-page elements are up to the mark, you’ll need a relatively fewer number of backlinks to rank on the first page.
This is because of the fact that a poorly optimized website is difficult to be crawled by Google.
Moreover, the authority that you’ll bring in by building quality backlinks will also be hampered if the on-page elements of the site aren’t optimized.
That’s why every SEO professional performs link building and on-page SEO side-by-side to ensure there is a proper balance of links and user-friendliness of the website.
The following tips will help you perform on-page SEO for your website.
- The page title and meta descriptions for each web page should be optimized for the target keywords.
- The website speed should be optimized, i.e., none of the web pages should take more than 3 seconds to load.
- The content on each web page should be optimized by infusing the target keyword and keyword variations, also known as LSI keywords.
- None of the pages should be 5 clicks away from the homepage. Make sure that your website offers easy navigation to the visitors.
Competitor’s Backlink Profile
To get a rough estimation of how many backlinks you’ll need to rank for a particular keyword, take a look at your competitor’s backlink profile.
The number of backlinks, that the competitors have built, is what you’ll need to rank for the same keyword, considering you build backlinks having equal quality.
Although, it is not necessary if your competitor has millions of backlinks, you’ll need to hit the same number as well.
If you build quality backlinks, you can achieve the desired rankings even with a fewer number of backlinks.
However, checking the competitor’s backlink profile is a good start to determine a rough estimate of the number of backlinks you’ll need.
Should You Buy Backlinks?
People often tend to buy backlinks just to increase the quantity. However, if you ask a professional SEO expert whether it’s OK to buy links or not, the answer would be
‘A BIG NO’
Buying or selling backlinks is a violation of Google’s guidelines. In case, anyone is caught doing this activity, Google is most likely to lower their website rankings or worse, penalize the website.
And, in case you think Google cannot differentiate between authentic and bought links, you couldn’t be more wrong.
The search engine has become really smart over the years, more than we could imagine.
So, if you think that you can get away with buying and selling links, get ready to be surprised by Google’s capabilities.
While building backlinks, it is not a good strategy to set a specific target in my mind. You should continue to build backlinks even if you are ranking at the #1 position of SERP. The most important thing to take is the selection of Anchor Text
In case you stop link building, your competitors are most likely to take your place, which is the last thing you’d want. It is also worth noting that only a strong backlink profile won’t take your site to the top.
It is also crucial that all other aspects of the website are optimized as well. So, it is always a good practice to hire SEO Experts from seo service agency who have expertise in handling SEO campaigns for different websites.