Quality vs. Quantity of Backlinks: What Matters More For You Right Now?

Article by On The Map Marketing On The Map Marketing and Chintan Zalani Chintan Zalani

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Backlinks drive traffic to your site. By placing your link on different third-party sites, readers of those sites can follow the link and get to your website.

Backlinks also help improve your SEO rankings and domain rating. Search engines see links to different sites as “votes” or “recommendations.” The more “votes” you get from other trustworthy sites, the more valuable your site appears before search engines. That translates to higher rankings.

So it’s common practice among online businesses to build backlinks for their domains. These may include backlinks to their home pages, blogs, and landing pages.

However, it’s important to note that not all backlinks have the same value. Some websites are more reputable and authoritative than others. Other websites will hurt your domain when they link to your site. You’ll learn in this guide the two primary approaches link builders use to improve their SEO.

Note: If you’re short of time and want a link building agency to take care of your link needs, contact us.

What are quality backlinks?

Quality backlinks are links coming from authority websites—websites seen as expert figures in the niche they cater to. One such example is Forbes, a website catering to business people. Hence, do-follow links from a site like this have more weight. They are high-quality links.

Forbes webpage

There are some concrete parameters to look for in a website to determine its quality. Relying simply on it being “well-known” will cloud your judgment with bias. Some concrete, objective, and measurable things to look out for in a website are:

Its domain rating. A domain rating is a 100-point metric that measures a site’s authority by an industry SEO tool called Ahrefs. A higher domain rating means a more authoritative site.

The quality and quantity of a website’s backlinks influence this metric. A better backlink profile means a website’s content is valuable and worth referencing.

You want to secure backlinks from websites with a high DR (dependent on your industry). You may check a website’s domain rating with Ahrefs.

Forbes' ahrefs domain rating

The Forbes website we referenced earlier has a DR of 94.

Number of referring domains. Referring domains are the number of unique websites linking to a particular website. If two websites have 100 links pointing to a certain domain, that domain only has two referring domains.

There’s a direct correlation between referring domains and search traffic, so it’s important to “diversify” your links.

Page load speed. A page’s load speed is how long it takes for content to load on the site. A better page load speed means a site with a better user experience. Better user experience means better SEO.

You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to assess the page load speeds of different websites.

Number of visitors. More website visitors mean more brand awareness and blog reputation. You can use SEO and marketing tools, such as SEMRush, to get an accurate report of other websites’ monthly traffic. For reference, Fox News has more than 240M monthly visits.

Websites with a healthy number in these metrics are authority websites.

Some examples of authority websites are Hubspot (DR 93) for the digital marketing niche and Healthline (DR 92) for the health and wellness niche.

What does quality link building mean for you?

More do-follow links from authority websites mean more traffic, a higher ranking on SERPs, and a more reputable brand image. Here’s what a quality backlink approach can do for you:

Better SEO

Search engines trust authority sites. Therefore, if you have a do-follow backlink coming from an authority website, some of the authority from that website is passed on to your site. Digital marketers usually call this “link juice.” As a result, search engines will rank your website higher.

More traffic

There are two primary ways high-quality backlinks drive traffic to your site.

One way is through referral traffic. By generating valuable links from these sites, you’re opening pathways from high-traffic domains to your website. When blog readers come across your link on an authority site, they may follow it and end up on your website.

For example, let’s say you have a link from an authority site on an article like “How to choose a personal injury lawyer.” The link to your site uses the anchor text “personal injury lawyer in NY.” In such a case, you’re likely to drive lots of referral traffic to your site.

That’s because the article is on an authority site and targets a relevant keyword. Therefore, you won’t just get more referral traffic. You’re also getting qualified traffic.

The second way is through improved rankings on the search engine results pages. As stated earlier, high-quality backlinks will boost your rankings. Higher rankings mean more website visibility. And as your website gets featured among the top results, you’ll enjoy a higher click-through rate.

More brand value

Suppose you’ve built quality backlinks from a handful of authority websites. Chances are, avid readers will come across a mention of your brand more than once. They’ll perceive more value in your brand name when they see it mentioned across the reputable blogs they read.

This is a huge benefit of focusing on link quality. However, you must know your target audience well to understand the different blogs they consume.

For example, Forbes has multiple high-ranking articles in the legal and HVAC niches. They have blog posts on topics like how to choose a lawyer, what HVAC contractors do, and so on.

Therefore, if your target audience is interested in such topics, they will likely end up on Forbes. That means if your brand gets backlinks and mentions from Forbes, that audience will start to see more value in your brand.

What do quantity backlinks mean?

A quantity focused link building strategy is a process of generating backlinks from as many websites as possible. Marketers focused on quantity aren’t too picky with the blogs that link to their websites. They’ll typically take any backlink regardless of domain rating, monthly traffic, or relevance to their site.

But that doesn’t mean these marketers would just reach out to just any website. Not necessarily. Some websites will do more harm than good when they link to your page. Most marketers are well aware of this fact. Therefore, although they’re focused on quantity, they’ll be keen not to get backlinks from harmful websites.

Here are some examples of websites you wouldn’t want to link to your website:

Word image 56144 3

Unsecure websites. The security of these websites is uncertain. Just like the one shown above. Google sees these websites as potential risks to their users. Links from these sites are likely to damage your domain rating.

Spammy websites. These websites are filled with keywords but offer little to no valuable content. A link from these sites will hurt your domain rating.

Link schemes. Google will quickly notice and won’t rank your site highly in the SERPs if they suspect you’re involved in link schemes.

A proper quantity-focused link building process acquires links from websites that may have low or medium domain ratings. But this process ensures that the referring blogs feature valuable content and adhere to Google’s best practices.

You can still build your domain rating through quantity-focused link building. But, of course, steer clear of the harmful websites mentioned above.

Quantity-focused link building may be helpful when you’re a relatively new website looking to boost your organic rankings. This process can display significant SEO results in the short term as you work on securing high-quality backlinks.

The case for high-quality backlinks

A do-follow backlink from quality, authoritative sites will significantly help your SEO.

But well-aware of their status, editors from these sites are very stringent with backlinks. And while you may use an email finder to acquire their contact information and pitch your guest posting idea, these sites receive tons of such offers weekly.

Therefore, it will take more time to acquire links from reputable sites than build backlinks from sites that aren’t as well-known. So it will take longer to focus on the quality vs. quantity of backlinks.

As a result, your SEO efforts may not take off right away. This may be a hurdle for your content marketing strategy.

That’s where the dilemma of quality vs. quantity comes in. Would it help to generate more average backlinks quickly? Or would it be more efficient to generate fewer links, but all of them are high-quality backlinks from authority sites?

How can you build quality backlinks that search engines like?

There are two general ways to generate backlinks: passively and actively. Active link generation involves going out there to strike deals that’ll earn you backlinks. Guest blogging is one of the most effective ways of building backlinks.

Guest blogging

This is a common link building practice among marketers. In guest blogging, you insert quality links to your website in your guest-written content. It also benefits the domain since you’re offering to write valuable content for free.

For example, here is an author box for one of the guest posts published on Content Marketing Institute. You can see the contributor, Chintan Zalani, gets the credit in the author box and a do-follow link going to a site of his choice. There’s also an additional link within the guest post.

Word image 56144 4

Since you’re writing the guest piece, you get to decide the context in which your link is used.

Lay down your guest post strategy. Determine the sites you want to reach out to, the topics you’ll write about, and the writing process you’ll adopt.

A guest posting strategy will scale your link building, generating high-quality backlinks. Doing this will improve your search rankings.

Creating quality content

Passive link generation, on the other hand, involves creating quality content and hoping other websites see and link to it. You’ll naturally generate backlinks to your piece when you build thought leadership content.

Hubspot marketing blog

The Hubspot blog consistently creates articles its niche audience (marketers) will want to read and link to.

Create quality content by researching your target market and writing on topics they would want to read. You may do this by looking through forums and conducting discussions. You can also use Google trends to identify trending topics that may be relevant to your audience.

Once you’ve done that, create content around those topics. The pieces should be well-researched and optimized for readability. It’s critical that they also include supplementary visuals and actionable tips. These content pieces will naturally generate backlinks.

Besides general articles, produce research, statistics, and case studies. Writers will want to link to these resources to substantiate their claims. That means a free backlink to your site.

Reach out to blogs that mention you

As you tend to other marketing aspects, you may naturally accumulate brand mentions. However, not all of these brand mentions will contain a backlink to your content.

Use a brand monitoring tool to search for brand mentions across the web. More specifically, look for brand mentions that contain no link to your website. Reach out to these sites and request that they include a do-follow link to accompany the brand mention. Most will be open to the idea since they already mention your business.

A passive link building strategy and an active one are essential to improving your domain rating. Therefore, you don’t have to choose one or the other. Instead, combine these link building techniques for better and faster results.

The case for focusing on the quantity of backlinks

Link building is much faster when you focus on backlink quantity than quality. As said earlier, quality authority sites are very strict with the sites they choose to link to. That can seriously slow down your link building campaign.

But when you focus on quantity, you’ll come across more average websites open to including a link to your site. However, there will be a tendency for you to get a spammy referring domain. When this happens, you’ll hurt your ranking and traffic. You can see below the moment a domain got a backlink from a spam website.

Decreasing graph

If you’ve been marked as spam, you may need to go through a lengthy reapproval process with the search engine giants.

So, though it is a quicker link building process, you may face setbacks from bad links. On the other hand, the risk of getting spam links is minimal if you focus on the quality vs. quantity of backlinks.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to Quality vs. Quantity of backlinks, a quality backlink building process is slower but brings in more brand value. Whereas generating quantity backlinks is significantly faster, it may not deliver a high brand value as quickly as high-quality backlinks.

Your SEO process may benefit more from quantity link building if you’re a relatively new domain. Average to low-quality backlinks are easier to generate for businesses that are just starting.

  • You may not have the content production capacity to please the strict requirements of authority sites.
  • It may be better for a new business to focus on growing as quickly as possible. This is especially important when it comes to an online presence.

Once you’ve established your company, you can focus on a more robust content marketing and link building campaign. Your website will also have a slightly better domain rating from focusing on link quantity. That should open more doors for securing quality backlinks from authority sites.

While a high-quality backlink is nice, it’s not a debate on backlink quality vs. quantity. It’s deciding what method to apply at the current stage of your business.

Author’s Bio: Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online email verification tool. He has spent most of the last decade working online for a range of marketing companies. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him in the kitchen mastering new dishes.

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