Do you have a competitor with less backlinks and less content beating you in the search engines? Here is why and how to win those rankings.
This week’s Ask An SEO questions are from Deepinder in Toronto who asked:
“1. I have worked on multiple projects. I have seen websites with 1,000 backlinks beat websites with 100,000 backlinks. And the same 1,000 backlinks site beaten by a content currating/stealing(copy paste content with a backlink to source) website.
So, how important are backlinks as ranking factors?
2. Is getting 1,000-3,000 backlinks from one site seen as spam? Because I have seen some good companies doing that.”
I’d like to start by answering the second question first.
It is situational if it will be spam or not.
The main determining factor is if the links are seen as natural vs. paid or a deliberate attempt at trying to get backlinks.
Natural links include:
Unnatural:
Those are just a few examples.
So yes and no.
Sometimes they are seen as spam and other times they may not be.
It depends on the links, your relationship with the website, and if they are natural or not.
Now onto your first question.
Yes, backlinks are 100% important for SEO. But it is not a numbers game.
I have one client ranking and beating out national brands without many links.
They even rank above the governing body for their industry for that governing body’s own trademark terms.
The quality of the links they acquired helped, but they started ranking based on site structure, quality content, the way the page renders, and site structure before we got the first links.
Oddly enough they have also gotten a backlink from that governing body because of the content we created. (Talk about a major win!)
Backlinks are only one of the signals a search engine uses.
The entire purpose of a search engine is to show a person searching the most relevant response, formatted in the best way possible to and in the fastest and most accessible way.
That could be a paragraph or list of text, a video, images, or mixed media. This is equally if not more important than backlinks.
To answer the question about why a site with fewer links will outrank a site with a ton, or how to get your website with a few links to outrank one with a few hundred thousand you need to look at what a link is.
Before we had smartphones, schema, and concepts like E-A-T, the search engines needed a way to determine the trust of a website and a specific page within that website.
Backlinks were one of these trust factors, specifically PageRank with Google.
Now that PageRank doesn’t exist (at least as we knew it back then), we have other ways to help build the trust and authority of our website.
If your website and the page in particular meet these trust and authority signals, you may now have the ability to compete with the website and webpages that have more links.
You can also:
Yes, quality backlinks will help you rank more easily than merit alone, but there are things you can do while you begin acquiring links so that you can beat a website or webpage that has 10X or 100X the amount of links you do.
Editor’s noteAsk an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEOFill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
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Adam Riemer is a long time online marketing veteran. With more than 10 years of experience in SEO, Ethical Affiliate … [Read full bio]
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