How Many Backlinks Does It Take to Rank On Page 1?

The core pillars of SEO are:

– Technical

– Off-site, and

– Content.

There are wafts of information out there on ranking signals. It generally falls into technical or ‘on-site’ SEO, content or ‘relevance’, and backlinks or ‘off-site’ SEO.

We can control technical and content SEO. We can do keyword research, create content based on that, optimise title tags and metas. We can fix structural issues at their core with smart solutions, with an understanding of how Google crawls and indexes pages.

The core component that is left: backlinks.

The age-old question that often arises, much to the dismay of SEO specialists is: “How many backlinks does it take to rank on page one?”

This question usually comes straight from the potential / current client you’re working with. The answer SEO specialists will go to is: “It depends”. Let’s be real, clients don’t want to hear those words. They want to know when – the year, the month, the day, the hours, and probably even the seconds!

What if we could better predict when a website will see that big success? To hit the first page, and hit number one for their core target keyword. What if instead of saying “It depends”, we could confidently predict “It will take 6 months to hit the first page, no worries”?

How important are backlinks to an SEO strategy?

Think about a website like a bar you own. You’ve made sure it complies with government regulations, you’ve picked your demographic, decorated the interior, and have a ton of booze on offer to serve the dearly inebriated.

How are you going to start getting people through the door?

People may walk past, come in, and have a great time. But, to build up the credibility you need the word of mouth to spread and you need good reviews. It’s those external factors that will get waves of people coming in asking for Pina Coladas and shots.

When it comes to the question of what’s the most important ranking signal? What’s the silver bullet for SEO? The answer is backlinks. Studies show that the greater number of linking domains a webpage has, the higher up the SERP they will likely be. For instance, #1 rankings had an average of 168% more domains than those further down the SERP.

Source: https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking

Google’s now-famous PageRank Algorithm changed the game. Instead of simply analysing the content of a page, Google looks at how many links to that page came from external sources.

Nearly 20 years later, links are STILL the best way to determine the quality of a webpage. That’s why backlinks remain Google’s go-to ranking signal.

Backlinks are the growth factor that SEO can’t avoid. Gain them and you have the building blocks for a successful campaign.

How many backlinks do I need to get to the top?

There isn’t a straightforward formula for calculating the number of backlinks you need to rank number one. If SEO consultants knew this with 100% certainty, it’d change the entire game.

The critical factor is quality. This can’t be stressed enough.

Google is savvy enough to know that the logic of backlinks help you rank doesn’t mean more backlinks, more rankings.

Based on my experience from seeing long term effects of gaining backlinks, the metrics to critique them with are:

Niche relevance

Website theme and/or content relevant to the industry of the client. This contextualises to search engines and provides relevant authority to that domain.

Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time. Domain Authority is not a metric used by Google in determining search rankings and has no effect on the SERPs.

Organic traffic & keyword relevance

The amount of traffic a domain attains is an important factor taken into consideration when acquiring backlinks. Domains with a moderate to a high volume of traffic will equate to a higher click-through rating and help to rank higher for relevant keywords.

When establishing a backlink, it is key to include relevant keywords within the content. Keywords that are relevant to the client/site will leverage rankings and visibility

Writing quality

Domains that contain excellent content that is in-depth, within scope, and meaningful are highly valuable.

Do follow & no-follow

By default, all links are do-follow links unless they are modified. Do follow links pass along what the SEO community commonly calls link juice. Do follows are preferred, however, if you acquire a no-follow from an extremely high-quality domain, you’ll be still in a great spot for boosting your ranking

Not all backlinks are created equal

Backlinks are not created equal. Much like with general ranking signals, each one of these has a scale of which it can hit all these metrics.

One might have a fantastic DA, yet its organic or keyword base might not be as relevant to the website.

You could have the most amazing content piece written about you, but the website barely has DA to make it worth it outreaching for.

Having a high-quality link connected to your website is worth its weight in gold.

There are ways to build links very quickly that can give you those results. However, over time you’re at risk of unbalancing your backlink profile with spammy or low-quality links.

Think of it this way, if you were looking for restaurant recommendations and 1000 people all said: “Check out this place it’s amazing, it will blow your mind away”. Later finding out that they’d never even been there, sampled the food, and perhaps had an obvious cash incentive to endorse it.

Now, what if Gordon Ramsey recommended the same place publicly saying it was the “best pizza in town”. Links are endorsements by entities that are authoritative in the eyes of the public – I’d take the “Gordon Ramsey of backlinks” each and every time if given the chance.

What’s the best indication of how many you will need to get to the top?

… Competitors!

Their backlinks are available to us through tools such as SEMRush and AHREFs so we can start digging into what their authority is built on.

One of my most frequently said phrases at StudioHawk is “Competitors have done all the work for you, figure out what they do and steal the good parts”.

How can we gauge it with the tools available?

Moving past ideas like “quality content” and “searcher intent”, the estimation tool that we’re utilising for this is AHERF’s Keyword Explorer tool. Alongside “Keyword Difficulty” This can indicate the average number of websites needed to rank within the top ten of search results.

AHREFs calculates this by taking a “weighted average of the number of linking domains to the current top-10 ranking pages and then plotting the result on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100.

Numerous case studies from the past few years show that backlink factors have a higher correlation with rankings than anything else. That’s their Keyword Difficulty (KD) score is based solely on the average number of linking websites to the current top 10 ranking pages, which makes it super easy to comprehend.

While AHREFs does not fully endorse this as the be-all and end of how many links you need, it is helpful. The KD score cuts through on-page factors and tells you what the likelihood is, based solely on the number of referring domains linking to the top-ranking pages for your target keyword.

Let’s put it to the test:

I thought, why don’t we analyse websites that have achieved the coveted top 10 ranking in our course. How many backlinks did they gain with us?

What does AHREF estimate they need?

And for those outside the top 20, how long will it take?

The clients I analysed ranked within the top 10 of search results. The majority of their backlink profiles were made up of ones that we acquired as part of our SEO strategy, and the words assessed were clustered around their main organic traffic driver.

I discovered:

On average, when a client has 3-5x the backlinks of AHREFs backlink estimation, they are highly likely to rank within the top 10. This was great for a very small sample base. However, expanding across their entire keyword profile, there were still a ton of low difficulty keywords that were ranking outside the top 10, the perceived ‘low hanging fruit’. Keywords that, according to AHREF, they should have placement for but are not even on the map for.

If you go right now into AHREFs and start checking up on your own website for this, you’ll see variances in the pool of links needed to get on page 1. AHREFs do express that this Keyword Difficulty estimation isn’t an exact figure but, for my own curiosity, it was interesting to see these variances directly through the view of StudioHawk’s client base.

It’s a great tool regardless. Using it you’ll get a snapshot of what you’ll need backlink wise, you’ll see what links they have, you’ll see their quality, even their weaknesses, and can start building your link strategy around this important data.

This can form the basis of your Skyscraper push, use it to fire up the Moving Man Method.

Without a doubt, you’re going to need more quality backlinks to get your website into the top 10 of search results.

A specialists Conclusion

To summarise, getting to the first page of Google is no simple task.

I wish there was a secret formula, but there isn’t one that we can back with 100% certainty.

However, backlinks have been and will continue to be a vital component in achieving the goal of ranking on page one.

Without them and relying solely on other factors, it’s going to be a hard road to start driving organic traffic with only high-value keywords.

The number of backlinks needed will rely on your competitors who are winning out and jockeying for those positions. Strengthen your resources for links based on this.

Key Takeaways:

Backlinks quality over quantity every time.

Use tools like AHREFs & SEMRush to assess competitors’ profiles

Know what you’re up against.

Build your strategy using tried and test techniques to gain more high-quality backlinks than your competitors.

Event SEO: Tips & Tricks

In a perfect world, everyone who hits the ATTENDING button on Facebook would show up to your awesome shindig. You invest all that time and effort into planning a great event which will benefit so many people, and yet you know that folks won’t turn up. How can you change this mindset? How can you turn this trend around? You need to find a way to boost event attendance without pressuring people too hard. You need to find a way to entice people, draw them in and make them WANT to attend. You need strong event seo.

There are as many marketing strategies out there as there are statistics backing up those results. The problem isn’t in figuring out that marketing is important, it’s in learning what type of marketing to leverage for your end goal.

In the events space it is all about raising awareness and hype to draw people to your thing. The marketing here is all announcements, social media posts and actions that build and grow in real time. The hidden gem in these campaigns is Event SEO so you can draw in users that are ‘high intent’ through your organic presence. Smart marketing isn’t about shouting the loudest message, it’s about sending out the most effective message. The first step in this process is putting your message in front of the right people.

With the year 2020 behind us and a world opening back up in 2021, let us show you how to get the most out of your event marketing through organic searches, and we’ll have you drawing in the right people for your event.

The Core SEO Conundrum

A key component of building your audience is creating an event website. All of your SEO marketing plans are designed to bring people back to your web page where they can learn more, subscribe, sign up, buy a ticket, merchandise, you name it.

If you have a recurring event, you need to be agile in making changes and updating information for people to be in the know. Outdated information is a big negative blow to your SEO and attendance. Each new and updated page needs to maintain the backbone of your previous message. This gives people a seamless and user-friendly experience. It also builds authority and demonstrates to Google your professionalism, allowing it to rank for your keywords.

Let’s use music festivals as an example. What I often see in Australia with these events is they will build an EPIC WEBSITE, hyping their event with featured artists, special locations and other entertainment, and in the background they build out a massive keyword list based on searched for terms for these things.

When the event is over, the buzz goes quiet. The event organisers keep the websites up, basically a splash page with words like- Stay Tuned for Next Year!

So why do they keep these webpages up? All that great content they had leading up to the event, giving them some massive organic search results, are rendered useless and are gone forever.

Keywords will start burning off because of the monumental shift in how the website looks and the removed content that was allowing them to rank for keywords.

You can see from the below chart the volatility in search results which happen before, during and after an event.

There is a much smarter way to powerfully leverage these organic search rankings for a longer and more consistent set of gains, to get you more traffic and sales.

Events may lead up to the day, but the play could be so much longer. Play harder with Event SEO as a backbone to your next event and you will win more success.

Search Intent Based Artist Pages

It always starts with keyword research.

Establishing a target audience does more than focus your efforts, it opens up opportunities to tailor messages and open pathways to communicate. When you have a clear vision of your audience, when you get a set of social media interaction and a good idea of what they search for to find events like yours, you get a massive advantage on your competition.

Music Festival Example

  • Artists & Locations

As a keen fan of music festivals, often I think- “Damn, when is this artist coming to my town?”, and thus you’ll find many artists have these variations of keywords “artists + locations”, with some combinations reaching strong volume numbers.

Seeing this, we implemented specific landing pages based on this keyword research, not only for Melbourne, but for all cities that the artist was touring:

·         /brisbane/lineup-lizzo/

·         /sydney/lineup-lizzo/

You get the idea.

Through this strategy we hit 1st position right at the peak of her tour and leading up to the event day itself.

This method doesn’t just work for artists. Any person of interest will have significant search around them.

“Person of interest + location”

Why?

Search intent – we’re satisfying a more direct user intent by landing a user on a page targeted toward their favourite artist and their location of choice. We can create a stronger conversion point off this.

  • Post Event

As a landing page for traffic being directed through backlinks, searches, and ads, the page needs to load quickly and read easily.

A good landing page benefits from multiple passes and audits to ensure it’s optimized for various devices and bandwidths.

It needs to contain core information presented according to SEO standards. This helps raise ranking while not discouraging visitors to leave before they even fully arrive.

A few options for these might be:

  • 301 Redirecting pages back into the homepage. This will help maintain any backlinks that we’re pointed toward these pages.
  • You could build out Artist Profiles on previous artists involved with the event, which will be useful if that artist then returns to the same event so you can re-energise that page.

  • Data Driven Planning

A festival is only as good as its artists involved, to generate hype having the hottest artists on stage.

Using keywords we can actually see the trends of artists across the globe. Looking at Lizzo, which we were doing above, she was riding a big wave of hype from late 2019 into 2020. Now Tate McRae, while less searched overall, is surging in user interest.

  • Link Outreach

The power of backlinks is in anchoring your knowledge and authority to that of other pages. For every important site you link to, and for every important site that links to you, a bond is formed.

These bonds show that the information you present has value and isn’t just useless background noise.

Authority is important for establishing and holding dominance of a keyword and leading the internet, rather than following it.

The event page will be the target of all your backlinks. It provides the nuts and bolts information to guide your attendees. Finally, it works to convert visitors into attendees.

  • Content

Content drives the biggest part of SEO. After all, SEO can’t optimize anything if there is nothing to search.

Content feeds the machine with data it can extrapolate and assign value to.

Content has more don’ts than do’s

You need to write for a human. Google, in particular, is wise to content that is nothing more than a jumble of words and concepts trying to stuff keywords and hence rank. Google wants content that proves authority, content that can be accessed by others, and content that spreads organically.

The better your content, the more reliable it is, and the more consistent your content is, the more value will be assigned to it by search engines.

Many of the event websites I researched for this article kept it light on content. While this may be great for UX, it is not good for organic SEO power.

Competitors

Know thy enemy, as General Sun Tzu said. It is a great way to help yourself and your website. Look at the data available online for your competitors. See what they’re using and what words are trending associated with their work.

You don’t want to out rightly wrestle with competitors who are too far ahead of you in the game. Instead, target a niche they may have overlooked to give yourself a better inroad.

Knowing the keywords associated with your market and audience does the heavy lifting in this regard.

Get Started Now

It takes a lot of small, incremental pieces of work to boost event attendance and build an empire. You need the best tools and the best people with the best know-how to build a strategy, keep track of all the data and leverage every advantage for SEO success. Please reach out if you’re looking for help for you next event via email: lawrence@studiohawk.com.au