Which is more important for your SEO: backlink quality or quantity? This has been a much argued point in the SEO world. Many years ago, the only thing that mattered was the number of backlinks pointing to your website. The more backlinks your website accumulated the better it would rank. Every month, SEO managers would scramble to build a large network of backlinks. Over time, things changed and Google became smarter. Before we dive deep into the question of quality vs quantity, let’s go over what backlinks are.
When a website provides a link to your website, this is called a backlink. This is valuable because the website is essentially giving your website a vote of confidence. Google uses backlinks to determine the authority of a website. Search engines figure that if another website is linking to yours, then your website must be pretty valuable. As you can imagine, this caused an arms race in SEO. It was all about who could gather the most backlinks. There were many blackhat SEO managers out there paying for links and artificially growing their website’s online presence.
Over time, more and more people tried to game the system. People would create blogs and allow others to publish their content on there for a backlink. Google would see this backlink and rank the website higher. Backlinks were so coveted that blogs started charging people for a backlink. Prices could range anywhere from $2 to $200, depending on the popularity of the blog. If you’ve read Google’s mission statement, then you know they’re all about quality and providing relevant results. The search engine giant along with others soon caught on to this blackhat practice and took action. They released an algorithm update that changed the backlink world.
Today, Google cares more about quality than quantity when it comes to backlinks, but there are still SEO managers out there pushing the quantity strategy. There are dozens of blog posts and YouTube videos on how you should get as many backlinks as possible. Despite Google’s reminders that it values quality more, people still fall into the trap of going after as many links as possible. Don’t misunderstand. Growing backlinks for your website is a good thing, but you should always go after quality first.
Search has come a long way since the early days. Google and other search engines are able to recognize relevance, linking patterns, and intent more easily. Since this is the case, SEO managers should shift their focus to obtaining links from high quality websites. Some examples of high authority websites are national newspapers, blogs with a strong following, YouTube channels, social media accounts, and local business networks like the Chamber of Commerce. Getting a high authority website like The New York Times to link to your website is better than getting 100 links from unknown blogs and websites.
Because quality is so important in link building today, it’s gotten a lot harder. In the early years of SEO, getting a link was pretty easy. You simply had to know the person who owned the website or pay them a fee. Now it’s about building relationships with authority websites, blogs, social media accounts, and providing exceptional content to be published. It can take months and even years to obtain a high ranking for your website. Success doesn’t happen overnight has never been more true in the SEO world.
If you’re looking to build high quality backlinks for your own website, start building relationships and don’t be afraid of rejection. Before contacting a prospect, be sure that your content is relevant to their website or blog. The worst mistake you can do is to send someone an article that has nothing to do with their own business or brand. There are many ways you can connect with a prospect. We’ve found that both email and social media work really well. When contacting them, make sure to keep your email or message short and sweet. In the past, we’ve received long, boring emails about why we should post someone’s contact to our blog. Nobody wants to read really long emails, so be concise.
The most important part to remember when building backlinks is to never pay anyone. When you’ve just begun, paying people for a link can seem like an easy solution. It usually starts with you sending an email to a random blog asking if you can guest post. The blog owner will reply, “Sure but pay us first.” Google and other search engines frown upon this tactic. If you’re paying people to publish your content and provide you with a backlink, Google will eventually catch you and your website ranking will drop. This is a trap we’ve seen many people fall into.
In the end, you should shoot for quality when building up your backlinks. It can be difficult to know where to start. Take baby steps first. Start by writing the best content you can for your website and ensuring the best user experience possible. Create a blog full of resources that people will find valuable. After this is done, start reaching out to people in your community. Make connections with other bloggers and websites and start asking for a backlink. If you’re diligent and patient, it’ll become easier to build backlinks.