How Many Backlinks Do I Need to Rank My Website with SEO?

by James Reynolds • Updated: August 19, 2014

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Search Engine Optimisation providers build hyperlinks from other websites to yours (backlinks) to give your site credibility and apparent popularity. The act of another website linking to you is considered by the search engines as a digital vote, and in most cases the more “votes” you have compared to your competitors, the higher you will rank.

But, not all votes are equal.

Aiming for quantity over quality when it comes to links is misguided, mainly because not all links are equal. Google employ a system called PageRank, named after their co-founder Larry Page. It is their method of determining how important a website is by measuring quantity and QUALITY of links to each page, with the underlying assumption that more important websites are more likely to receive links from other sites.

PageRank ranks each page with a value of PR0-PR10, with PR0 being the lowest value. When it comes to the PageRank for your own site, this is determined by the ranking of links coming to your site, so if you are linked to by web pages that are PR4, PR5, etc., your own PageRank would be higher than if you were linked to by PR0 and PR1 web pages.

So, what is better – a hundred links of PR0 to your site or one of the PR10? Well, there is a lot of musing around the relative worth of the PRs. speculate that each is worth around  5.14 x higher than the previous i.e. PR1= 5.14xPR0, PR2=5.14xPR1, etc. Another research has suggested similar values. When the value of something increases exponentially like this, it obviously means that a link of PR10 is worth an incredible amount more than a PR1 or PR2 link.

How Many Backlinks Do I Need to Rank My Website

So low ranking links used by poor SEO providers, acquired via link farms, link networks, directory submissions and the like are not just dangerous but are not very useful in the first place.

Valuable links include those from other sites that are related to your own in terms of subject. Links from “on theme” websites help search engines to decipher what your website is about and give it authority.

So how many links do I need to rank?

If you are still asking this question, you are barking up the wrong tree. A website may only have a few links, but if those links are from relevant, trusted sources a few links may be all that’s needed to rank high. Of course, there are many more ranking signals (over 200 in fact) that contribute to a website’s position in search results, and the presence or absence of any one of those 200+ signals can have a significant effect on where a site sits in the results.

Putting things into practice.

The best type of backlinks with the characteristics just described, are back links you do not expect; links acquired from relevant and popular 3rd party websites who link to you because you have great content that they want to reference and share.

But if you are starting out, getting your site noticed by trusted website’s in your market can be tough, hence why you might need a Search Engine Optimisation company to help you acquire links to your site.

What should you look for?

Make sure you choose an SEO provider that can build higher PR links from “on theme” sites that relate to your own. Quality providers may have a “small”, private portfolio of websites from which to provide links that are never likely to be discounted by Google since it is neither automated or providing irrelevant links.

When you choose a Search Engine Optimization company that can acquire relevantly, high PR links from trusted website, you may not need very many links at all.

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James Reynolds

About the author: James Reynolds is passionate about helping you get more traffic and sales from search engines.


About the author: Karl Tablante is the Inbound Marketing Manager for SEO Sherpa, a top-rated organic SEO agency that lives and breathes all things search.

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