With backlinks being one of the most important aspects of SEO, this blog will seek to answer the question of how many backlinks are needed to acquire the top spot?
There is no magic formula that can tell us exactly how many backlinks your website needs to rank first. Instead, there are a number of adjustable variables that can help businesses get an idea of what it takes.
Are you ready to find out how many backlinks your website needs to rank on page one? Keep reading below!
Factor #1: Homepage Brand Trust
If you frequently read SEOJet’s blog then you understand the importance of building homepage brand trust. Homepages are the heart of your site, and doinghomepage SEO the right way is the key to building a strong foundation that may get you on page one.
Without building proper brand trust on your homepage you will find the rest of your SEO efforts to be frustrating and extremely disappointing.
How many homepage backlinks should a website have to establish brand trust?
The way to build brand trust is actually pretty simple. Build backlinks consistently to your homepage using branded anchors. If you look at big brands (or websites that dominate the SERPs) you will find a common theme among all of them.
They all have a lot of links that point to their homepage and 85%-95% of those links have one of the following as the anchor text: their brand name, their URL, or their URL written like “Website.com”.
In addition, they receive or build these links on a regular basis. This helps them stay relevant.
These are the signals to Google that a website is a legitimate brand.
So what does this have to do with getting to the number of backlinks you will need to rank?
Pages that rank in the top 10 of Google separate themselves from the competition by really crushing one or more of the following things: homepage brand trust, content, and backlinks (detailed examples of these three things later on).
Factor #2: Your Website Niche
Some niches are more competitive than others.
The SEO niche, for instance, is full of expert practitioners who all know exactly how to rank at the top of Google. That makes the SEO niche one of the most (if not the most) difficult niches to try to rank in.
Other niches like florists or pet products are not as competitive. Therefore, the number of backlinks needed for those websites will be vastly different from what is required to be on the top of the SEO niche.
If a business truly understands its niche and knows how competitive it is in terms of SEO, then it should have an idea of how many are needed. More competitive niches need more backlinks.
Factor #3: How Niche-Specific Is Your Website
One of the ways to get rankings with 70% fewer links than competitors is by building a website that is extremely niche-specific. This is a website that only covers one specific topic in-depth.
For example, there is a difference between a general home improvement website and one specializing in plumbing.
If the plumbing website covers that niche with great pieces of useful content, it will be able to rank for plumbing-related key phrases with much fewer links than a general home improvement website can.
There is no limit to how niche a website can go. Sites built to only cover hot water heaters instead of all plumbing topics will more easily rank for hot water heater-related key phrases.
Google loves niche-specific sites that cover 100% of a single topic. Keep in mind: the more niche you are, the more dense your audience will be.
Factor #4: Is Your Page A Power Page Or Sub-Page?
A power page is a page on your site that is (mostly) non-promotional, is content-heavy (2,000+ words) with amazing content, and usually goes in-depth to solve a problem for your target audience. It’s your best content.
Why is it important to differentiate between a regular sub-page on your website and a power page?
A power page has enough content that it won’t look unnatural to build lots of backlinks to that page. Keep in mind that not every page falls in this category so you need to be honest with yourself.
It wouldn’t look natural to have 100 backlinks pointing to your plumbing services page. Google will immediately know it’s manufactured. Don’t forget they are seeking authentic and authoritative content.
On the other hand, a 3,000-word blog teaching you how to fix your own hot water heater could naturally have 100 backlinks.
Businesses can still try to rank their sub-pages in this situation by building backlinks to the homepage and power pages first, and then internally linking to services pages from the power pages. That is a natural way to pass the SEO juice.
Factor #5: How Natural Is Your Backlink Profile
Nearly all of your homepage links need to have branded anchors and all of your links should be from real websites (read: not garbage PBN’s).
But what about your power pages?
Some businesses want to rank for a particular key phrase so badly they can’t help themselves from building a lot of exact match anchor backlinks. But, this is a huge mistake.
In a #1 ranked backlink profile, Google expects to see less than 10% of backlinks be exact match anchors. So what should the backlinks be?
Your backlinks need to be a mixture of natural anchors, blended anchors, and exact match anchors.SEOJet, backlink software can help you keep a natural backlink profile.
Natural anchors are anchor texts that do not contain any key phrases. It would be things like your brand name, the full URL of the page you are linking to, and random phrases like “click here” or “this article.”
Blended anchors are anchor texts that have all or part of your key phrase and then other words in the anchor as well. For example, if your key phrase was “wedding rings,” a blended anchor might be “a good selection of wedding rings.”
Exact match anchors are when you use your key phrase by itself.
To make your profile look natural you need about 60% natural anchors, 35% blended anchors, and 5% exact match anchors. (Note: as Google regularly changes its algorithm these numbers also change)
Keep in mind that these percentages were created from taking the average of all #1 ranked pages across all industries.
SEOJet lets you choose to build out a link map to these percentages or take the average of all top 10 pages that rank for your main key phrase.
As you can see from the snapshot above, you can also pick and choose which competitors in the top 10 you want to use to create the percentages for your gauges. That way you can rule out sites like Wikipedia and Amazon.
This allows businesses to really customize how they want to build backlinks and aggressively target those exact niches.
Enough Already—How Many Backlinks Do You Need?
Now that you have a solid understanding of the factors that cause Google to rank one website over another we can better answer the question of how many backlinks you need.
Do I Really Need To Build Backlinks To My Homepage?
If you don’t get Google to recognize you as a legitimate brand, your pages won’t rank.
How many links will it take?
It really depends on your niche. But the truth is you should always be building backlinks to your homepage.
How Many Backlinks To Inner-Pages?
The most effective way to find this answer quickly is to search Google for the key phrase you want to rank for. Then you look at everyone in the top 10 and look at their homepage backlinks to see how strong their brand authority is and look at the backlinks to the specific page that is ranking.
You want to look at the outliers in the top 10.
Which page has the least amount of backlinks? Which page has the least amount of homepage links? Who has the least combined?
Inside of SEOJet, we have our “Competitors” tab that will show you the top 10 ranked pages for your main key phrase, along with how much content each page has, how many backlinks the page has, and the number of homepage links.
It then gives you averages of everyone on page one. Check it out below.
Let’s use the screenshot above to decide how many links it will take to rank for “backlink strategy.”
You can see that the total number of backlinks to each page that ranks in the top 10 ranges from zero all the way to 1,616.
Why doesn’t Google just automatically rank the page with the most backlinks as #1?
There is a big outlier among the top 10 ranked sites. One of them has way more backlinks than the rest of the list. From Google’s perspective, this appears unnatural and they would expect to see each of the pages have the same amount. That’s why the site with 1,616 backlinks is ranking #5.
The biggest takeaway from this chart is how the minimum number of homepage links is over 300. Any businesses trying to make this list, therefore, would need to get at least that amount.
Is it possible to get there with fewer homepage links? Sure it is. For example, a business would need at least 200 homepage links and at least 60-80 links pointing to that page.
Also keep in mind the numbers shown above are in the SEO niche, which you’ll remember is one of the most competitive.
Let’s look at another example outside of the SEO niche.
When studying the top 10 sites for “paleo meal plans” it’s clear that the first five are stacked. It’s going to take a very aggressive backlinks strategy to break into that pack.
As you move down to 6-10 on the list you have homepage backlinks as low as 190 and page backlinks as low as one. So the backlink numbers in the bottom five look much more manageable.
For this group, a business should expect to need around 200 homepage backlinks and 25-50 page backlinks to move into the bottom five on page one of Google.
As you can see from looking at these charts, knowing what everyone else in the top 10 has done in terms of backlinks and content is extremely helpful in determining how many backlinks your website needs to rank on page one.
Using this strategy can also help you avoid spending a lot of time and money targeting key phrases that you don’t have a realistic chance to rank for on Google.
Let’s look at one more example in a much less competitive niche using a local search as an example. We’ll look at the key phrase “bed bug control Seattle.”
When you start dealing with local searches the number of links you are going to need will drop considerably in most industries.
The first thing you do is ignore the outliers on this list. Yelp, Thumbtack, and the government website are the outliers and won’t be direct competitors if you have a pest control company.
Looking at the rest of the list you can see that some websites have as few as 22 homepage links and most of the pages that actually rank have two or fewer backlinks.
For this site, a good target for backlinks would be 25-75 homepage backlinks and maybe 0-5 backlinks to the page wanting to be ranked.
The Sliding Scale Of Brand Authority, Content, And Backlinks
There are many reasons websites do or don’t rank. But, you can be successful with SEO if you master the right combination of the following three things:
Building great brand trust on the homepage
Creating content on power pages that crush competitors
Building high-quality backlinks to that content
You may do well by only implementing one or two of these techniques. Do a combination of all three and you’ll own the Google rankings.
Establishing Great Brand Authority
When a website has a ton of branded backlinks to their homepage with no backlinks or very few to their ranking page, that brand trust is so well established that all of their pages rank well in Google.
Yelp is an example of a website that falls into this category. With over 90,000 homepage backlinks, Yelp has established brand authority and doesn’t need any links to other pages.
Their sub-pages also rank in the top three of Google for almost everything that is relevant to the page.
Other sites that fall into this category include Amazon, Overstock, Walmart, or Wikipedia.
Don’t panic! Remember, you only have to match or beat your direct niche competitors, not these enormous sites.
Create Content That Crushes Your Competitors
Once you have established homepage brand authority, you can focus on creating amazing content that will also help you rank in Google.
Creating a power page with content that is better than the other top 10 competitors can help you overcome any lack of backlinks.
Below is an example of a site that is in the top three for its main keyphrase. But, they have far fewer backlinks than everyone else in the top 10.
Look at the content on their page versus everyone else.
They have written a piece of content that is over 5,000 words long, while everyone else is in the 1,000-2,000 range. As a result, they can get away with 80-90% fewer homepage backlinks than those that rank around them.
They have positioned themselves as the authority on the topic by virtue of having far superior content than everyone else in the niche. Google loves authoritative content.
Build High-Quality Backlinks To Content
Businesses need to be realistic when it comes to competing with others in the Top 10. It may not be financially possible for them to build more homepage backlinks or post more content than the others.
What they can do is beat them with high-quality backlinks to the page they want to be ranked.
Here is an example of a website that doesn’t have the best homepage brand trust in its niche. The site decided to write good content that matched its competitors and built more backlinks to their money page.
As you can see above, GotchSEO ranks #3 for the key phrase “build backlinks” and focuses on building high quantities of backlinks to the pages that they are trying to rank.
They also build enough homepage backlinks so Google will trust them as a brand.
GotchSEO has about 380 homepage backlinks. It may seem like a lot until you look at data from the rest of the page one websites.
By comparison, the two websites above and below GotchSEO have on average 14,777 homepage backlinks, yet only 295 backlinks to the page that actually is ranking in Google.
GotchSEO had to build out a much higher quantity of backlinks to that page to make up for its lack of homepage backlinks.
Yourbacklink strategy should ultimately include these strategies to get one of your pages to rank:
A ton of quality backlinks
Getting as many links as possible may sound like a winning strategy, just remember that quality and relevance matter. Links from garbage sites are not going to help you.
How Many Backlinks Per Day Is Safe?
One of the biggest link-building myths out there is that Google will penalize businesses for building too many backlinks in one day. This is simply not true.
You can build as many links as you want each day, as long as the backlinks come from quality sites and your anchor text profile looks natural.
Let’s say you just published the most viral blog post ever on floral arrangements and everyone in the floral world decided to link to that blog post. Is that unnatural? Of course not.
But Google will expect that the anchor text profile will look a very specific way if it happened naturally.
Something else to consider is what we have already talked about, which is you can’t build a lot of backlinks to pages that shouldn’t get a lot of backlinks. Remember how we discussed this above with the plumbing website example.
Building backlinks to a homepage or power page is different. You can be more aggressive as long as the anchor profile looks good.
How Does SEOJet Help With Backlinks?
As you have seen in this article, the screenshots are inside of SEOJet’s backlink management software. So what is SEOJet?
SEOJet helps you become a backlink-building ninja.
The software looks at your current backlinks and shows you how natural it looks compared to other top 10 ranked pages. It also tells you what backlinks you’ll need next.
It takes all of the guesswork out of building backlinks for yourself or for your SEO clients.
The software also helps you choose the right anchor text to make sure you get the most out of every backlink.
A built-in guest posting service can help obtain links from authority blogs that have real, organic traffic from Google.
SEOJet also created a proprietary scoring system called “JetRank” to give a score to every single page you enter into the system. It will let you know how well the SEO and link building are going with each page, and which pages you should focus on.
How Would You Like To Give SEOJet A Try?
We hope this blog solved the mystery of how many backlinks it takes to rank on the first page of Google.
The exact amount varies based on your niche and several variables including your homepage brand trust and the type of pages you’re trying to rank.
One thing we can guarantee is thatSEOJet backlink management software takes the mystery out of what to do next. Within minutes you can find out exactly what your competitors are doing to rank in the Top 10 and build a strategy to match or surpass them.
The SEOJet team would love to teach you more about our software and demonstrate some of its more advanced features. All you have to do isschedule a call with us and we’ll go through everything with you!