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New Report Says Websites Are Unlikely to Rank Without Links

Being in the SEO game at Coronation I.M. we hear Google and others telling us that we should stop building links to websites in order to help them rank better. Or we have others from “fairy world” telling us:

“If you build great content, others will share and link to your content and you will get better rankings.”

Really? Would you really find content from a plumber or an insurance salesman something that you would share on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? How about writing a blog post about the new coverage options for home insurance and sharing the link on your website or blog? I didn’t think so.

Moz’s scientist, Dr. Matthew Peters has discovered new data from the soon to be released biannual ranking correlation study performed by Moz. Their study found that websites ranking for competitive terms had at least one link pointing at them and the majority had a lot more links.

In a recent blog post titled “Can You Rank in Google Without Links? New Data Says Slim Chance” by Cyrus Shepherd on Moz stated:

When we look at what the study found about links, we find a strong relationship.

The correlation between higher rankings and the number of linking websites (root domains) sits at .30. This number seems small, but it’s actually one of the highest correlations the study found. (Smaller correlations are also not surprising—with over 200 ranking signals, Google specifically designed their algorithm so that one factor doesn’t dominate the others.)

Even more telling is the number of websites we found in the top results that had external backlinks, or rather, the lack thereof.

Out of the top results, a full 99.2% of all websites had at least one external link. (The remaining .8% is well within the margin of error expected between Mozscape and Google’s own link index.) The study found almost no websites ranking for competitive search phrases that didn’t have at least a single external link pointing at them, and most had significantly more links.

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Let’s be clear about links though. More is not necessarily better. Links from higher quality sites have a far better effect on rankings than a large quantity of low quality links. Plus, you will likely avoid being penalized by Google using this method.

The other thing to take into account is that links alone won’t get you high rankings. You still need good content (I didn’t say great) on your website. We are also seeing good results from pages with more than 1,000 words of content with quality links pointed at those pages.