The battle between quantity and quality of links is one of those debates that has polarised people.
Some will tell you that link quantity is all that matters. As long as they’re not too obviously spammy, it doesn’t matter where the links come from as long as you have a lot of them. Achieve the most and you’re more likely to achieve the results you want in the search ranking.
Others will tell you it’s all about quality. Instead of spending your days producing as much new content as possible to send to any old website, you should be concentrating on producing a few high-quality campaigns specifically targeted at the big boys. By getting links from websites with high domain authority, Google will automatically know your website’s great and will reward you for it.
But who to believe? As ever, the answer is somewhere in between. Here we’ll look at some of the most important things to consider to get the right balance.
How to check your quantity and their quality
In case you’re unsure, a back link is a link to your site from any other website. Google sees them as valuable because if a website adds a link to your site, they’re effectively suggesting to their readers that your site holds some value. A link from a large, well-respected site is worth more than from a small one with no visitors, and plenty of people linking to your site suggests it’s regarded as valuable.
There are plenty of tools out there to return all the websites that link to you. If you’re only a small site, you can probably get them for free, like this one from Moz, but you’ll probably have to pay for it if you want complete results.
Once you know who’s linking to you, checking the quality of the link is easy. There are lots of free tools available, like this website authority checker. Often this metric will be included in the back link checker tools, too.
Back link quantity
The people who push back link quantity focus their efforts on sites with a low-to-medium domain authority. The advantage of these sites is that there are lots of them, and often achieving a back link will be much simpler than with a bigger site.
Links have been confirmed by Google as one of the top 3 ranking factors. You can’t rank without them, so it makes sense to go after as many as possible. The number definitely matters, too. This graph from digital marketing guru Neil Patel shows that sites that occupy the the top positions in Google tend to have a higher number of back links.
If your back link numbers are a little low, it’s worth looking into a blogger outreach service to help you increase the numbers with the right websites.
The disadvantages of chasing quantity
If you go after as many links as possible you run the risk of catching some that are rotten. Links from spam sites can have a hugely detrimental effect on your SEO performance. With Google making constant changes to its algorithm, a site that was running just above the line may drop below it and drag you down, too.
Quality back links
There’s no questioning the value of quality back links – they’re called ‘quality’ for a reason and there’s very little downside. Google sees them as a respected source of information, which will reflect well on you. Domains with high-authority influence increase your domain authority, too, which is only good news.
These sites tend to get more visitors to your site, and will reward you with engaged traffic. The risk of the link hurting your site is very low, as there’s little chance a well-respected website is suddenly going to fall foul of Google’s changes.
The price of quality
Unfortunately, the very thing that makes quality backlinks valuable is also their disadvantage. Like anything in life, the higher the value, the harder it is to achieve. A high-value link is from a site like Forbes or the BBC and unfortunately, it’s not as simple as sending a polite email and expecting a link.
Some teams will create whole campaigns just to target links from a handful of these sites. The reality is many will spend a lot of time and money then find they don’t get the results they were after. Targeting these sites is difficult and time-consuming, and you could end up getting nowhere if you’re not careful.
So, who’s the winner?
The strategy you choose is ultimately up to you. The most successful sites have a mixture of both quantity and quality. As we’ve seen, research suggests you need a certain number of links to reach the top positions but the quality of these will keep you there. Putting together a strategy that achieves a bit of both will stand you in good stead.