how many backlinks needed to rank invalley blog

How Many Backlinks Do I Need to Rank?

A question we get often is how many backlinks someone needs to get their site ranking. We love it when people come with a lot of excitement about results, but there’s an opportunity for education here.

There’s no such thing as a magic number to get you ranking, even in the context of your own niche. Search engines are way more advanced than most of us can wrap our heads around, but there’s plenty of data you can use to figure it out.

Here, we’ll walk you through a high-level analysis that we can do to inform a backlink strategy for a hypothetical project.

First things first, figure out your own link metrics with a tool like Moz Bar.

There are a lot of great SEO tools on the market, but for the sake of this tutorial we’re going to use Moz Bar. I’m using the free version in this analysis.

Let’s say you want to rank your homepage for the keyword “escape rooms Salt Lake City”. What does “World of Escapes” (which is position 4 in this SERP) need to do to compete with the 3 sites above them?

Well, let’s look at their metrics first. Their homepage has a page authority of 33 with 8 links, and an overall domain authority of 25 with a low spam score. Not a bad start. Now compare that to the top 3 rankings for this SERP:

At a glance you may notice that the number of total links goes down incrementally the further down the results you go.

We can extrapolate to an extent that we need to focus on quantity to compete. You don’t want to sacrifice quality to do it, but this particular website has some obvious catch up work to do.

To that end, some good starting points might be:

  • Citations
  • Projects like our Monthly Mix, for example
  • Broken link building with a great resource page

Great, so that’s all, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, at least not always. That’s just our starting point. What about domain authority and page authority?

Escape on 13th has, by FAR, the lowest DA of the bunch but it’s number 2. The site we’re trying to rank has the second highest page authority but it’s in last place. The number 3 site has a domain authority just barely shy of the number 1 competitor.

Confusing right? Here’s the secret: the one common denominator of this analysis is that the site ranking at #1 consistently has the best metrics. That tends to signify a lot of quality content, consistency, and natural growth.

It’s unlikely that just building 400 links, or just hitting DA40, or just hitting PA50 will be enough to knock them out of the first spot. Google is clearly favoring the site that’s “the complete package” in this instance.

So what the hell do I need to do to rank?

Don’t look at backlink metrics as separate goals. If you just chase volume, but don’t have any great editorial links, you risk a spam penalty and a stagnant DA. If you just chase high-DA dofollow links, but have no volume or diversity…that’s right, possible penalties.

In an instance like this, I’d suggest that the client combines some of the tactics above with something like PR outreach to get a good mix of volume, link types, and high-DA referrers. It’s sustainable, it’s safe, and it’s the only way you’re going to beat the website at #1 that understands the fundamentals of this strategy.

One last note about SEO factors for ranking. There are a lot of factors that contribute. On-page SEO, content quality, traffic, site performance, schema markup…backlinks aren’t the beginning and the end of the ranking conversation, but they are arguably still the single biggest factor.

Taking a holistic, data-driven approach to a backlink strategy is the best way to make sure you’re competing in the right ways for the keywords you’re after.

Curious how we can help? Check our our services page, or feel free to contact us here.

backlinks vs features invalley

Backlinks vs. Features

If you’ve checked out our Premium Link service, you’ve probably noticed that we have “feature” and “backlink” options available for most of our website offerings.

This has been a source of confusion for some, so we wanted to clear it up for you in our blog.

The simple answer is that a backlink is usually non-commercial and descriptive of the page we are linking to. We write a relevant blog post and include a natural backlink to our client. The anchor text in this post, for example, is “the most common reasons why startups fail”.

This is a live Invalley sample.

A feature is a full business feature or article on the topic of your choice. Want to talk all about the new product or solution your business has? We can do that. Maybe you want to publish an informative article on Newsmax about a topic that’s important to your industry. The feature option is what you want.

They read more like this article does:

This one too.

Some FAQ about this distinction.

Is the SEO value the same?

Absolutely. You get the exact same link regardless of which option you choose. If you’re on a budget, or you really only care about the DA, the backlink is just fine for you.

The benefit of the feature is that we can be as promotional as we want to. If you want a nice article to show off to clients or leads, or you want your link to be in an article that might rank for a certain topic, the feature gives you that opportunity.

Is content included? Can we submit our own?

For every service we offer, content is always included. It’s never separate.

Now, some clients want to provide their own content. Some publishers will allow that, but some won’t. We tend to suggest letting the content team do their thing, but talk to us if that’s something you have your heart set on.

I only see one option for some of these sites.

You’re not going crazy, some sites only have an option for one or the other. In other cases, like AP News for example, the format is a press release, and the feature/backlink issue doesn’t apply. Other publications won’t accept any kind of promotional content.

Do I get to see the content first?

Always, yes. We’ll either need to reach out to you for information to include in the piece, or we’ll be submitting a draft of the feature for you to give feedback before it’s published.

We’re big on transparency here.

To see all of our premium guest post offerings, you can login to our dashboard or head to our Premium Links page.

invalley backlink case study 210% traffic

210% Traffic Increase in 1 Quarter for an Ecommerce Client

Traffic is king. Domain authority, link volume, page authority, trust flow…there are dozens of different ranking factors and buzzwords in the SEO world, but the reality is this: none of it matters if you’re not getting traffic.

When we launch a link building campaign, we’re not chasing vanity metrics. We’re looking at what your site needs most and where we can deliver big wins in your niche. In this case study, we look at an ecommerce site with a LOT of competition and black-hat activity in their niche.

In a single quarter, we increased their traffic by over 210%. And we’re not talking about a couple hundred searches either:

(Change period is month-over-month)

Let’s dive into how it happened.

Disclaimer: Confidentiality

We have purposefully omitted names, keywords, and other identifying details that could clue readers into who this particular client is. They are in a competitive SEO space that is rife with black-hat SEOs, and we also sign NDAs when necessary to protect the proprietary marketing information of our clients.

We always put our clients’ privacy first, even if it means we have to redact some cool data from our case studies.

Organic Growth With Link Building

One of the best parts about the results with this client was it was clear that SEO drove the increased business. Oftentimes, we see agencies taking credit for huge gains, but see Analytics data that conveniently omits the fact that it all came from other channels.

For these guys, organic was the rockstar of their inbound traffic, by a lot. September 2020 reported 19.1k organic sessions; December 2020 closed out with 40.2k, more than a 210% increase in a single quarter.

Think about that for a minute. What would you do with double the revenue in less than 3 months? What’s more than that, SEO traffic doesn’t disappear the second you stop pumping money into it the way paid channels do.

This is real, sustained growth that isn’t reliant on liquid capital pumping into it every month.

How did we do it?

There’s no secret sauce here; we did content-focused, white-hat link building in the ways that have always worked (and always will).

For this website, you don’t see a giant spike in referring domains or link volume. It’s increased quite a bit, sure, but it’s been steady and sustainable. Take a look at some of these screenshots:

No dips and valleys, no sharp upwards trends, none of the garbage that gets sites penalized 3 weeks after they see their increase.

This is a big part of why we preach quality over quantity, and we don’t celebrate those vanity metrics we talked about earlier. You can get those crazy high, case-study-worthy spikes in revenue and traffic without going overboard on your strategy. Speaking of…

The Anatomy of a Well-Rounded Strategy

Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also the spice of an SEO strategy. We set clear goals based on data and focus on building a natural, user-friendly, high quality backlink profile that will position our clients for sustainable growth during and after their campaign.

No arbitrary numbers here. What is the DA, PA, spam score, link volume, and content quality of our client against the top 10 competitors in their SERP? That’s our target.

From there, we create links of all types, with all kinds of rel= attributes, with a focus on amazing content. Trust me, Google knows what’s happening when 1000 dofollow links come from badly written pages.

We blend strategies from packages like our Monthly Mix, which gives us the diversity and volume we need to be competitive, with services like our Premium Links. Those are guest posts and press releases on sites like Yahoo, AP News, Entrepreneur, and more that carry some insane DA with instant ranking power behind them.

Best of all, we make sure that all of our links have the individual potential to rank for snippets, tangential results, long-tail keywords, and more. That attracts tier 2 backlinks and qualified traffic, which is sometimes more valuable than the domain authority itself.

In short, we believe in doing it right the first time, and doing smart, holistic SEO work.

Interested in seeing what we can do for you? Get in touch with us here, or head over to our services page to learn more.