Anyone have a clear example where getting great backlinks increased their rankings significantly?
If you've been around long enough and have been persistent in working on your website, you're going to accumulate good backlinks over time.
That's not true at all. There are thousands of websites that have been around for years producing good content without a solid backlink profile. Over the years I've worked on several news websites from the local weekly newspaper up to a giant weekly national site. The latter having been around since the mid 90s and is the authority in their space (they are the governing body). Did those sites get backlinks? Sure, but no where near the number or quality of a site that works on it actively. I wouldn't call their backlink profiles very good and as a result they are often outrank by sites that do try. Inevitably, the majority of the backlinks these sites get are for the home page. So the home page ranks high and generally #1 for related searches, but nothing else ranks or ranks at the top. For the governing body site it's pretty common for other sites to rank higher for individual stories than the the site that produced the content to begin with.
I think it's one factor, but not a very big one
You're 100% correct about this. There isn't a single factor that is all powerful or that will have a significant impact on rankings by itself. However, each backlink a site has is a rank factor. Unlike virtually every other rank factor, there is no limit on how many backlinks you can get.
You can only have so many internal links without being spammy. You can only have 1 Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). You cannot make your site load faster than 0 sec. Other rank factors have built in limits in their effectiveness and they are effectively neutralized if your competitor does the same thing as you.
So individual backlinks are small rank signals, but they add up. Over time, the accumulation of backlinks becomes a stronger signal. Actively acquiring backlinks just makes that process faster. It's the difference between filling up you pool with a garden hose or filling it with a fire hose.
Links have been the #1 ranking factor in Google since the day it launched. That hasn't changed.
The only evidence I have is every single project I've worked on in the past 15 years or so.
Also, I have yet to see a page ranking for anything competitive without links.
If links were not a significant ranking factor, why do you think Google has fought so hard against link tactics over the past 20 years? Everything from the Penguin algorithm to targeting private networks to even taking manual actions against major companies like JCPenneys for their link manipulation schemes.
Yes I have an example. One of my own sites – a side project.
The phrase "Recreational Vehicle (RV) Living" has over 12,000 monthly searches. My website started out (obviously) with no rankings for this phrase, or anything similar. After 1 month I was in top 30. Just from link building.
Now I'm now ranking consistently top 3-5. after 2 years. I've held top 10 positions for about a dozen of my top phrases, all highly competitive, for the past 1.5 years. All from link building.
I publish maybe 1 article per month.
I also have many many clients in the same boat. Sites where no content is added. It's purely link driven and we consistently get them found for most of their primary phrases on the first page of Google.
I see your website. Looks like you ranked pretty fast. Your domain is 2 years 4 months old. But you started getting organic traffic 2 years ago and have been steadily growing. I think it has a lot to do with the keyword being in your domain and your content uses that keyword a lot, plus its in your title. Your competitors above you are large websites. If I were you I'd count the amount of words that are on your their landing pages and write more than them on your Home. And add "RV Living" in a H1 tag. I bet it'll cause you to get top 3.
Also, don't you think your example proves my point? You may have built backlinks over the years, but the websites you're beating that are on page 2 are huge sites with way more backlinks, some in the millions (example rvlife).
Link is a ranking factor for sure. For example I just started a website on 2 April and I wanted to rank for the main keyword which is getting 500k traffic (Ahref) Just get the content ready (700-1000 words). Placed 10 articles. Did some pretty good link building (Paid) I am on 40s out of nowhere for that keyword in 1 month So, it worked.
For competitve niches like Virtual Private Network (VPN), hosting, digital marketing, link building is neccessary. Everybody can get 5k words articles, 99 Page speed, Optimized title & desc. But one thing for sure is different i. e link building. You have to keep an eye on competitors link profiles to match them.
I do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for an eCommerce site in the skincare industry. I've had an experience where backlinks helped, but I don't think it's necessary. We wanted to target a keyword that was quite competitive with websites like Men's Health, Esquire, and GQ ranking for the keyword . After we created the blog post, I reached out to two large sites in the niche and got backlinks from them. After these two backlinks, our rankings shot up from #10 to #1 in a month and page views for this keyword went from around 40 a day to 300 a day. Usually, I don't focus too much on off-site SEO since on-site SEO is enough to get my client ranked in the top 3 for the keywords we want to target. However, in this case, I think that backlinks helped us get the #1 spot. Granted, these were two pretty big authority sites in the niche so that made quite a big difference than hundreds of low DA links. I personally don't think backlinks are too important unless you're trying to rank for a pretty competitive keyword. As long as you make sure the site is healthy technical-wise and speed-wise and you know which keywords to target, you should be fine.
I've been creating content for the web since it was possible to do so. I built a user-generated content community that has more than 5 million distinct pages. Today am I Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for a B2B PaaS company. In all my direct experience with website content between communities, B2C and B2B, I can say one thing with absolute confidence:
Backlinks Have Been Mostly Irrelevant Since <year>, And Pointless After RankBrain.
Back in <year>-ish, at an event at Google High Quality (HQ), Matt Cutts told me directly that Google is slowly phasing out the importance of backlinks. Why? Because it's gameable. And if there's one thing we know about the Google Black Box is that anything gameable never lasts long.
I'd love more details here if you're willing to share.
I'm working with an established company in an ultra-competitive industry, and on the side, I help a small business in a much less competitive market.
Both seem to have improved in rank thanks to our link-building campaigns. But I can't say for certain — we worked on other aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) at the same time.
But for the smaller site, we got some very high Domain Authority (DA) links, which immediately boosted our authority. We're now on the first page for a few terms.
Hmm. How would you say Google measures a website's relevance and authority?
I read a few times that brand mentions will overtake backlinks in the future. Just mentions of the company around the web without any links. But that's gameable too.
I speculate that ranking for low competition keywords in an industry helps you rank for high competitive keywords later. It's a sure sign that a website is relevant to users in a niche without gaming the system.
Content is a strong one for sure. But that's exploitable. I see bloggers today intentionally making their articles WAY longer than necessary to rank and keyword stuffing, and it works (neil patels blog is a good example of this; its a pain in the ass to read because the articles drag on for the sake of word count and SEO).
The currently accepted ranking factors are, in presumed importance (based on SEMrush study)…
• Direct website visitors – this indicates repeat visitors – 100% important
• Duration of visits – this indicates deep high-value content – 95% important
• Pages per visit/session – more of the above factors – 90% important
• Bounce rate – the lower the better – 80% important
• Content length/quantity – how much, how rich? – 60% important
• Total referring domains – this is domain-specific, not page-specific – 50% important
• Total page backlinks – now it's page-specific – 50% important
• Total referring IPs – back to domain-specific – 50% important
• HTTPS – 40% important
• Total anchors – 30% important
• Keywords – in anchor, in body, density, title, etc – 20% important
Hey Skeptic Guy, I'm also a skeptic.
The thing about that data is that top ranking sites usually have more direct website visitors because they're top ranking sites. When you're in the top 3 for a long time, people start to know your brand and will do direct searches.
About the other data…hmm… duration? pages per session? and bounce rate? How would Google get such data from a website if the website doesn't have Google Analytics set-up
How would Google get such data from a website if the website doesn't have Google Analytics set-up?
Google, like many other companies, has access to backbone data.
Backlinks helps to push your keywords in ranking factor. I have shared here my experience that my company want hire flutter developers keywords in top 10 on Google but last month it was on 30 positions. so, I had change meta title, description as well as create quality blog on high quality Domain Authority (DA) Page Authority (PA) sites. We were shared on social media groups. that blog given more traffic on social media as well as that sites. Now, I'm getting my keyword in top 10.
So, there are many factors responsible for improving your ranking, such as meta title, description, content and quality backlinks are required for getting ranking too.
Backlinks gives you more domain authority which in turn provides the ability to try for difficult keywords,
I have examples that rankings have increased by providing backlinks from a high ranking site to a lower ranking site but I can't say that it "really" made a difference.
The site "just" jumped 10 places in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) [from page 6 to page 5].
So no, I wouldn't worry too much about backlinks.
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