Several studies have shown that backlinks are still the most important factor for a top search engine ranking. Apparently, even backlinks from any website are beneficial, unless the website has been penalized by Google, the backlink is advertising, or the backlink was manipulated or spam. Even footer links are slightly helpful.
A study by Neil Patel “What Type of Links Does Google Really Prefer?” shows the effect on your website of these types of backlinks:
- Anchor text
- Sitewide links
- Content-based links
- Multiple links from the same site
- One link from a relevant site
- Sidebar links
- Nofollow links
- High authority link
- Built and removed links
An interesting article at SEO consulting company MOZ, Can You Rank in Google Without Links? New Data Says Slim Chance, discussed MOZ’s study examining the top 50 Google search results for approximately 15,000 keywords. The article stated, “The correlation between higher rankings and the number of linking websites… …[is] actually one of the highest correlations the study found.”
Does it matter if backlinks are from .edu or .gov websites? No, I wrote about the fact that .edu or .gov backlinks won’t provide any more benefit than a link from a .com website.
If you’re interested in backlinks for higher Google rankings, read the most comprehensive guide to backlinks, by Brian Dean at BACKLINKO, to learn the techniques for getting backlinks the right way.
Are backlinks really the most important factor?
Backlinks should take a backseat to what I believe is the most important factor, content. Without good content, you can’t get backlinks without manipulation.
It is natural that a website with good content will result in other websites, blog articles and comments linking to an internal page with good content. This will result in a naturally and slowly increasing number of backlinks pointing to the website and its pages as new pages with good content continue to be published.
Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google has an algorithm that looks at the relationship between the number of backlinks and the quality of content being linked to. If I was at Google, I would certainly build this into the system. It’s an easy way to determine if there are too many unnatural artificial backlinks going to a poor quality site. This would be another important reason for creating good content.
Another aspect to consider is that the better your content is the more you will have backlinks from quality websites.
The answer is you need to continually get more backlinks but you need really good content to get more backlinks and better backlinks.