Backlink Quality vs quantity? which is more important & why in 2021.

Hi, I’m Praneeth.

In this blog post, you will learn whether do backlinks still work or not in 2021, the importance of Backlinks, and,

In backlink quality Vs quantity which one is more important and which one you should prefer building.

Without further ado let’s get started.

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What is a backlink?

backlinks

A backlink is a link that connects 2 websites or pages on the internet.

There are 2 types of backlinks,

  1. Internal backlink.
  2. External backlink.

Internal backlinks are links that connect different pages within a website.

External backlinks are links that connect different pages from different websites.

External backlinks were the basic foundation of SEO in the initial days,

And today, although backlinks are not everything in SEO as it was used to,

It is still, among the top three ranking factors of Google other than content and rank brain.

What is a high-quality backlink?

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A high-quality backlink is commonly referred to as an external backlink you receive to your website from other highly authoritative and trustworthy websites on the internet.

For example, if you have a website Blogging about SEO and digital marketing then websites like, 

  • Search engine journal.
  • Search engine land.
  • HubSpot.

Getting a backlink from these websites is what we call a high-quality backlink.

And if you interlink the page which received is a backlink to other pages of your website it is the high-quality internal backlink for your website.

High-quality backlinks are often Do-Follow backlinks and sometimes even no-follow backlinks are considered high quality and also very much useful based on the website authority from where you get the backlink and the traffic you receive.

What is a low-quality backlink?

backlink quality vs quantity

A low-quality backlink is a backlink that you receive from other websites which are less trustworthy and authoritative on the internet.

For example, if you have a website blogging about SEO then websites like,

  • Any average blog about SEO which very few people know about in the industry.

Getting the backlink from such websites is what we call as a low-quality backlink.

Do backlinks still work?

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In short yes,

Backlinks still work pretty well although the content is absolutely the king of SEO today.

In fact, in the initial days of SEO, backlinks were the primary pillar alone to rank a website in search results like Google, backlinks were even more important than content quality and UX. 

Even though Google’s algorithm is so advanced with lots of regular updates over the years.

It still relies on backlinks as their main external factor to determine whether or not a website should rank in search or not.

As a matter of fact, Google employee revealed that,

Backlinks are among the top 3 ranking factors of Google’s algorithm.

Apart from that, 

Many case studies run by the SEO leaders resulted in the fact that backlinks and unique referring domains linking to another website help improve website rankings and drive more traffic to the website.

And there is a direct relationship between higher backlinks or unique referring domains linking to a particular website and higher SEO traffic of that website.

It may not be extremely important as it was back in the early days due to change in trends and updates but,

Still, backlinks are quite much important,

Let’s see why and how backlinks are important today.

Why backlinks are still important?

There are 2 types of backlinks, 

Internal backlink and external backlink.

I have defined the definition of both backlinks in detail in the above sections.

Internal backlinks can be sometimes more important and powerful than external backlinks, let’s first see the benefits of both internal and external backlinks.

Note: In this blog post, when I am referring to a word backlink i am essentially talking about external backlinks.

There are 4 benefits of backlinks as a whole.

  1. Indexing pages.
  2. Rankings and Traffic.
  3. Build Authority.
  4. Pass link juice.

Let’s first see the benefits of both in detail.

  1. Indexing pages.

Backlinks both internal and external help index pages fast in search engines,

By building external backlinks to a website it helps the page to be crawled and indexed fast by Google’s spiders.

For example, if you have a newly bought domain name and a brand new website,

It may take from a couple of days to a month time for Google to crawl and index your website organically from the internet.

But when you build external backlinks to that website,

Google’s spiders will observe the movement of links, identify and index your website faster.

By building internal backlinks to a website it helps Google to understand the website structure and index all the internal pages.

  1. Boost rankings and drive traffic.

This is another common factor and a reason why both internal and external backlink is important.

External backlinks can drive lots of referral traffic to your website from other websites,

Internal backlinks can pass the referral and organic traffic to other pages within the website.

This helps increase the visibility of pages for people and search engines apart from increasing rankings in the search engines.

  1. Build authority.

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This is the main reason why backlinks are very important for SEO.

Mainly for Google,

Google’s search engine algorithms are machines, not human beings even though they are run and managed by humans behind.

If you are an expert on some subject, you can convince somebody if it is a human being by showing your expertise certificates.

But because Google algorithms are machines, not human beings to read and analyze the certificate.

Google understands the language of external signals.

This is where backlinks come into play.

Google will judge your expertise and authority of the subject largely based on what other websites tell about you.

External backlinks are a type of validation to Google that other websites are interesting and recommending this website so it is authoritative on the subject. 

It is not just for website overall authority, it is also equally important for individual web pages,

If you want to rank your website higher for competitive terms and keywords in google,

You need backlinks so that Google can know that other websites are linking to this content on this subject which tells google that because others are linking to it as they are interested in it,

It might be good for users so let’s rank it high on search results so users can find it easily.

Although Google uses lots of other factors to decide your rankings like user experience, mobile-friendliness and speed, and content quality, etc but backlinks happen to be one of the crucial factors in rankings to know.

Whereas, internal backlinks are important for website authority because it shows that you are a complete source of information on the subject to the audience.

This builds trust and credibility from Google over the period of time.

  1. Pass link juice and page rank.

backlink quality vs quantity

This is similar to the above point,

By building external backlinks to a website,

You can pass link juice and authority of that particular website to your website which it gained over the years.

This helps immensely in boosting your SEO rankings and organic traffic.

Whereas, building internal backlinks will pass the link juice from pages with high authority to pages with low authority and rank other pages in search engines.

Page rank was a metric that Google used to decide which websites were authoritative,

Although it left using the metric as a ranking signal several years back itself.

But it is still used in many forms like domain authority or domain rating built by third-party companies as metrics to compare SEO efforts in the industry.

Important factors of backlinks:

To determine whether a backlink is of high quality or low there are a few signs and factors to look for, they are these.

  1. Anchor text. 

Anchor text is the text of the backlink.

It is the text from where you can click to visit the pages through the backlink.

For Example, I recently have published an article about WordPress Vs blogger,

If I want to send an internal backlink from this post to that post,

I will have to decide the text from where I can connect that URL and build an internal link.

My anchor text which I choose is,

WordPress Vs Blogger, learn everything about it.

If you click on the above text, you will visit my post about WordPress Vs blogger, the text where you clicked is called anchor text.

If I get a link to that post from other websites then it is called an external backlink to my post.

What’s important for you to know is,

While either building backlinks or getting backlinks naturally or organically,

Avoid using the exact match Keyword in the anchor text while building external backlinks to your website or individual posts.

If you use the exact keyword in the anchor text for building an external backlink for your post, it looks bad,

It can sometimes cause bad UX and appears to be manipulating search engines by overly optimizing your website for traffic.

This can get you a gift of penalty from Google.

So the ideal practice to be followed is, use natural words or branded terms like website name in anchor text while building external backlinks to your website or posts.

You can use the exact match Keyword in internal backlinks it is totally fine and you won’t get a penalty for that.

  1. Relevance.

This is another important factor to determine whether a backlink is of high quality or not.

It is how relevant a website niche is which is linking to your website.

For example, a single backlink from a relevant website to your website is more powerful and of high quality which can do a lot more good for your website than many backlinks to your website from irrelevant websites.

  1. Trust and authority of the website.

This is the major factor that determines whether a backlink you get is of high quality or low-quality,

It is how trustworthy the website is which is linking to your website.

What is the authority and age of the website which is linking to you in the industry?

Mentioning authority I don’t necessarily mean only domain authority or domain rating metrics of SEO tools,

It is just how trustworthy the websites are in real life for both search engines and users.

  1. Content quality.

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This is Just another metric to decide whether a backlink is high quality or not.

It is how good the content quality is which sends a backlink to your website.

Usually, backlinks from pages that are longer like 1500 words let’s say tend to be of high quality than those of shorter content length like 500 words.

This is because, 

In a general rule of thumb, higher content tends to be considered more quality because the blog post would have more information in it.

Also, the fact is that getting backlinks from longer blogs helps make the links look natural and organic rather than artificial stuff like PBN or spamming.

  1. Location of the link.

This is the last important factor to decide whether a backlink is of high quality or just spam.

Well, backlinks are just hyperlinks passing from one website to another website.

Although you can build backlinks from one website to another website from lots of places and locations of the website, not all of them are going to be of the same quality.

You can build backlinks from places like,

  • Blog commenting place.
  • Header part of the website.
  • From sidebars of the website.
  • From widgets of the website.
  • Footer part of the website.

Google either ignores these links or sends you a penalty but it doesn’t move a needle in your SEO efforts.

Whereas, Backlinks from places in the middle of the content or in starting sections of the blog are considered more quality than the same links but at the bottom of the blog post.

The reason being is,

Search engine spiders and crawlers visit different URLs on the internet and crawl them from top to the bottom not bottom to the top,

Hence, backlinks or internal links placed in early sections of the content are considered of more value than the same links in down sections because they are highly visible.

Overall a backlink is decided as of a high quality or low depending upon the combination of all these 5 factors.

Note:

The most important factor of a quality backlink that separates it from spam links is relevance.

How relevant is the niche of the website which is sending a backlink to your website?

The relevance of backlinks won’t matter much if you get backlinks from websites like,

  • Highly authoritative websites like news publications and magazines.
  • Educational institution websites.
  • Government websites.

In normal cases, relevance is an important factor to decide whether a backlink you get is of quality or just spam backlinks.

Which is more important: backlink quality vs quantity?

In short, Quality backlinks are more important today.

Let’s take a better understanding of the situation,

It used to be that, in the early days of SEO, because the algorithm and technology wasn’t so advanced, 

The number of backlinks mattered a lot. I mean quite a lot, there were not many factors to rank on search engines because of less tech support.

Hence, it was relatively easy for people to rank their websites on search engines quickly building tons of backlinks from places like,

With the advancement of technology and improved algorithms and Google’s pursuit of improving its search engine algorithm,

Google has become a lot clever now, 

I would say, it is more about quality nowadays over quantity of backlinks.

Google had understood the fact that people started building tons of backlinks and misusing and manipulating algorithms.

Because it caused bad results in SERP and bad UX overall, 

This is why we have seen major algorithm updates like panda and penguin which literally brought lots of sleepless nights to webmasters and SEOs back then.

Along the line, Google made lots of tweaks in its algorithms over the years hiring the best brains and engineers of the world,

To make it difficult for spammers to manipulate search engines,

It now gives more emphasis on backlinks quality over quantity because they are more clear, trustable for Google, and,

It is more difficult to build for spammers which means difficult to manipulate algorithms so that Google can stop spamming its search results and avoid bad UX on the search results overall.

Pros and cons of building each one.

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Here is a table of the pros and cons of trying both techniques for your SEO efforts in 2021 and beyond.

Factors.Quality of backlinks.Quantity of backlinks.
Pros 
  1. It can drive you less but highly targeted referral traffic to your website through that backlink in the long run.
  2. It can cause a big difference with an increase in your SEO rankings and organic traffic and overall website visibility in search engines.
  3. This strategy involves less risk of a penalty as both the link velocity is low and link quality is high.
  1. It can also drive you lots of low targeted referral traffic to your website through the backlink in the long run.
  2. It may not impact your individual page rankings much in SEO but it can help you in building overall website authority for the long run.
Cons
  1. It takes a lot of time to build these backlinks.
  2. It can also cost you a lot of money and resources in exchange for building such backlinks.
  1. They don’t take much time to build such links.
  2. It may need relatively fewer resources and money to acquire such backlinks.
  3. This strategy can be quite risky and it can get a penalty if done incorrectly, it can cause a dip in organic traffic due to high link velocity or lots of spam backlinks.

To conclude the debate between the quality and quantity of backlinks.

Quality backlinks are important and useful for both short-term and long-term whereas,

The quantity of backlinks strategy is only largely useful in the long-term as more referring domains to a website leads to more traffic in the long run.

So, even though the quality backlinks are important than the number of backlinks, it is a good practice to get both of them at a slow and steady pace but not the spam links.

Link profile: what is it & which one should you achieve?

A link profile is the profile of the backlinks of a website.

There are 2 types of link profiles, let’s talk a look at both.

Natural link profile:

It is a link profile that happened over time naturally without much interference from humans.

In this type, Even though if you don’t do link building in your SEO efforts what so ever,

If your website’s content is link-worthy, over the period of time,

Naturally, your website will gain lots of organically built high authority and low authority links and a few spammy links by bots and your competitors which is perfectly normal for websites.

Unnatural link profile:

It is a link profile that happened with a lot of interference of humans for building these,

In this type, you manually build backlinks to a website and the growth of your link profile will not look like a natural like,

It is not a normal link profile for a 5 months old website to receive 50 backlinks what so ever and if the backlinks are of high quality from authority websites of them, 

It will definitely look fishy and unreal to search engines.

This can either mean, you either bought links or made a PBN, this can get a penalty to your website because it is not normal for a very new website to get lots of backlinks initially because,

Very few people on the internet will be knowing about your website.

What’s the ideal solution?

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The ideal solution is to build a natural link profile for your website with a slowly growing link velocity of backlinks.

This looks more natural and real and less like manipulation and spam to Google’s algorithms.

Hence, you won’t get a penalty or manual action from google at all.

Ending remarks.

There you go I have answered everything related to backlinks, do they work, and quality Vs quantity.

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I will catch you next time till then keep learning and keep growing.