How many backlinks does your website have? If you’re like many other web owners, it’s probably something you track religiously. It’s why you’re doing link-building outreach, writing guest posts, drawing up infographics and producing data-driven content that other sources will hopefully cite. Getting more links has been an SEO tactic since the early days, and link-building efforts have since only gained steam.
So, surely the volume of backlinks your site has amassed over the years has had an impact on your SEO, right? Well, not necessarily. In fact, according to Google’s John Mueller, the total number of backlinks on a website doesn’t matter at all – it’s not even something Google’s search algorithm looks at. Mueller addressed the topic in the latest Search Central SEO office-hours hangout when a viewer asked what was more important: the volume of unique referring backlink domains or the total volume of backlinks.
Mueller did not hold back, giving an uncharacteristically definitive response:
“I don’t think we differentiate like that in our systems. From my point of view, I would tend not to focus on the total number of links to your site, or the total number of domain links to your website, because we look at links in a very different way.”
In the question of quality vs. quantity, the former holds much more value in the link-building world. Just one great link from a high-authority website can be more impactful than thousands – or even millions – of low-quality links. The only thing Google really cares about is how relevant each link is to the website it’s pointing to. Mueller also mentioned that even if a page has only one link from a major news site, that signal would be enough for Google to view it as a quality page.
While this may come as a surprise, it shouldn’t: As Barry Schwartz said in his blog for Search Engine Roundtable, it’s “SEO 101.” High-quality backlinks have always been the ultimate SEO trump card, regardless of all the web owners who continue with practices like irrelevant directory submissions and generic outreach emails in an attempt to get more links. Instead, put that time and effort into producing content people will want to link to – easier said than done, yes, but infinitely more valuable to Google and its user experience-focused future.
More SEO News You Can Use
If You’re Struggling To Optimize for Core Web Vitals, You’re Not Alone: Google’s Page Experience Update is looming, bringing with it a whole lot of (often unfamiliar) work for web owners. According to Roger Montti of Search Engine Journal (SEJ), several SEOs are realizing that achieving high scores for all three Core Web Vitals is, well, extremely difficult. Montti says it’s proving a challenge for one major reason: Core Web Vitals metrics are related to a web page’s code, not web hosting. In other words, low scores are a result of content management systems (CMS) not having Core Web Vitals practices built into them at the code level – but now, it’s up to SEOs to do the dirty work. Montti’s blog itself is an excellent read that raises more than a few questions about why SEOs are the ones saddled with the burden of beating Core Web Vitals.
Google Search Console Has Been Updated With an Improved Associations Page: Google announced the “new and enhanced” Associations page on Twitter, saying that all existing associations would be automatically carried over. In the Search Console context, an “association” refers to the connection between a Search Console property and other Google services, like Analytics. Now, the page supports a number of new association types, including Google Ads, YouTube, Play Console, Actions Console and Chrome Web Store. With this update, you can unlock more site functionality, and Search Console domain properties can be linked to Google Analytics, providing more accurate coverage of organic search results. More information is provided on a Search Central blog, so be sure to give it a read.
Here’s Your Ultimate Checklist for Uploading Images That Are 100 Percent Optimized: On the back of John Mueller’s Search Central Lightning Talk on image SEO, SEJ has published its own viral blog on image SEO tips. Rather than provide a list of suggestions, the article is instead a step-by-step ritual for uploading images that improve your web page’s SEO rather than throttling your page speed. Images are a valuable SEO asset that is often neglected. When done correctly, image SEO can result in near-instant success (No, really – the blog mentions a case study in which one web owner got his photo to rank number one for “best person in Cardiff” in less than four days, purely through image optimization!). In the case of SEO, an image really is worth a thousand words.
LinkedIn Is Working on a Bunch of Different Things: Your favorite business-centric social media platform has been busy lately. LinkedIn announced updates to its Pages on a Marketing Solutions blog published on Tuesday, introducing a range of new features to help businesses generate more high-quality leads and engage with their employees to build stronger communities. The features include Lead Gen forms on Product Pages, a new way to share content among coworkers and an Analytics feature that measures the reach and impact of your employee advocacy – but that’s not all. The Information has also reported on LinkedIn’s alleged plans to launch a new service, LinkedIn Marketplaces, connecting users to freelance professionals in a bid to compete with sites like Fiverr and Upwork.
Check Out This Masterclass in Ad Extensions Courtesy of SEJ: Optimizing your paid search ads to their fullest potential is impossible without ad extensions. From sitelinks to structured snippets, these extensions – either manual or automatic – can improve your ads’ performance and click-through rates. But when should you use them, and how? SEJ contributor Pauline Jakober has these answers and more in her blog, “Everything You Need To Know About Ad Extensions.” If your paid search strategy is in need of a refresh, this is the place to start.
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