09 Oct Link Building: How Many Links Do you Need?
Does Link Building Ever Stop?
Most marketers consider link building the hardest part of SEO. There’s a reason for this: it is.
With link building being so difficult, you’re probably wondering if there’s ever a point where you’re done building links? When your domain authority (DA) is at a certain point can you call it a day and stop?
Before we answer this, let’s take a look at why we build links.
The Goal of Link Building
Every website needs links, no matter its purpose. Unless its purpose is to never be found, then consider your job done. For all intents and purposes, every site should be building links. Take a look at the post by Neil Patel and his thoughts regarding How Many Links Should You Build to Your Website?
Below are a few more reasons why you need to be building links.
Links Build Domain Authority
When your site receives links from reputable sources, especially ones relevant to your niche, your DA slowly climbs up. These links essentially signal to Google that your site is a valuable resource and not just noise.
In the past any links from high DA sites would help your own DA. With the most recent Google algorithm update, reports are beginning to trickle in that hint at links needing to be from sites relevant to your niche. Keep this in mind when you’re looking for linking opportunities with outside sources.
Links = Higher Ranking
Beyond building your DA, link building also helps with ranking for keywords.
For example, let’s say you want to rank for “the taco expert.” Once other sources start reading your content and recognize that you’re a total taco badass, they’ll start linking to your content with text like, “Joe is the taco expert,” or “hear from the taco expert,” and so on.
Even if these links aren’t from incredibly high DA sites, the context of their link and the type of site they are will help slowly increase your chances of ranking for “the taco expert.”
Links Build Brand Awareness
SEO magic aside, links are simply great for building your brand. A link from a large publication gives your brand a ton of free exposure by being mentioned. If you’re wanting more traffic to your site this can be a great way to get it.
More traffic can turn into more people discovering your content and linking to it from their own sites down the road, which can, in turn, build your DA. Think of it like the old, “and they tell two friends” motto.
They’re Free and Legal
If you’re not being scummy and buying links, then links are truly free marketing. You do have to put in the time, but beyond that, there’s no cost for a link like there is for a paid ad.
There are also times you can’t legally buy ads. For example, Vaping.com, a successful e-commerce site, can’t purchase ads due to vaping laws. Because of this, they’ve had to master SEO, especially link building, to climb the SERPs.
Initially, they pitched industry journalists directly, slowly building their DA and influence in the vaping community. Now, they have the DA to simply write content that ranks and have become a resource in the vaping and e-cigarette community.
How Many Links Is Enough?
Now you know why you need backlinks to your site. So, how many is enough?
To put it simply, nobody knows.
Google updates their search algorithm regularly. These updates often alter how certain elements are weighed in the overall SEO picture. Despite these updates, links have always remained valuable. Their source may matter more in recent updates, but links are still essential to SEO success.
Any ranking sites know this, so they continue building links. Because of this, you can never stop building links. Your competition won’t suddenly quit building links, so even if you’re ranking for a term right now, you may not be in a month.
There are countless guides on building links, so we won’t touch that. But, there are some things to consider regarding the links themselves.
Determining the Value of a Link
Not all links are created equal. Some links are worth a lot, and some links are nearly worthless. How can you tell? There are several things to consider.
- The Source’s Niche: If a link is related to your industry or niche it can be much more beneficial to your site for a couple of reasons. First, it’s more likely that it’s being seen by readers that align with your target audience. Also, Google weighs these links more heavily than links unrelated to your site.
- Do Follow or No Follow: When a link has “no follow” in the code before it, it doesn’t count toward your DA. Think of it as the site telling people about you, and then denying they ever said anything when Google asks. Again, there are exceptions to the rule. If a “no follow” link is coming from a massive site, it can still be beneficial by providing a ton of exposure and traffic.
- DA of Linking Site: A site with a high DA can do wonders for your own DA and site growth. While this has become a point of debate because of recent Google updates, it’s still great to land links from sites with a DA above 30. The competitiveness of your industry can impact what DA truly matters, however. If you’re in an incredible niche industry with low competition, practically any link can be helpful if it’s relevant.
- Anchor Text: This is one you don’t have as much control over in many cases, but the anchor text that’s being used to link to your site can be especially helpful when you’re gunning for a particular keyword, especially a longtail one. Again, if you’re wanting to rank for “the taco expert,” then having sites link text like, “Joe, an expert on tacos” or “Joe, the taco expert,” is ideal.
A big part of the frustration and difficulty with link building is that it takes a ton of time. With the above in mind, you can at least cut down on the amount of pitching you do. If a site is a bad fit or has a small audience and uses no-follow links, you know they’re likely not worth your time.
The Next Steps
Link building can be really tough and it can feel like it’s not paying off. Results take a ton of time, especially when you’re starting from the bottom. That being said, it always pays to do things the right way.
Sure, buying links or using other blackhat tactics might land you a few rankings in a short period, but it will also come back to bite you.
At best, you get reported for buying links and your pages drop in rank. At worst? You can be deindexed from Google and be invisible to people searching. Game over, man.
Instead of gambling everything away, do some proper research and determine which pages or articles of yours have the biggest potential for ranking. Then, consider the above points about what constitutes a great link and start pitching the right outlets for guest posts, ask for your article to be included in a roundup, and so on.
It’s a ton of work, but it absolutely snowballs and gets easier and easier as your authority grows. Pretty soon you’ll be ranking for the right keywords, and a searcher will find your page and tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and…
Bio: John Shieldsmith is a marketing consultant for CanIRank, a SaaS startup and marketing agency. He’s been in the thick of content marketing for several years and has ghostwritten for publishing houses, Fortune 200 companies, leadership coaches, and execs from numerous industries.