Link Building Quality vs Quantity: Which is More Important?

When it comes to building links to your site, you may be wondering if having lots of links is better than having a few links from high authority or trusted websites. Is quantity more important than quality, or should your efforts be spent on trying to achieve one really great link vs a hundred "okay" ones?

On this page, we’ll explore the difference between link building quality and quantity, why both link volume and authority matter, and offer some tips to build, achieve, or earn great links that can increase your audience and domain authority. If you’d like to speak with one of our experts, you can reach us at 888-601-5359.

A brief introduction to link building

Link building is the process of manually creating or achieving links to a specific website, page, or piece of content. This can be done through adding links yourself from another website or page, by asking other website owners for links, and so on.

Google, and other search engines, relies on links to determine a website’s authority and where it should rank in search results. Because of this, link building is a very common service offered by SEOs and Internet marketing companies. In most cases, a website needs links to rank well, and it can be very hard to achieve these links without the right knowledge or experience.

Similar to link building is link earning, which implies that links are given to websites naturally, with little to no outreach. The term “link earning” is usually used to describe the process of creating content that earns links easily – for example, a post on a popular blog, a helpful guide or how-to page, and so on. In this case, the focus is less on manually building links and more on creating the kind of content that will attract links without much help.

The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building

Building a high volume of links

When link building was still young, webmasters tried to build as many links to their site as possible through methods like blog commenting, site wide footer links, participating in link directories, and so on. The more links a site had, the better, and the more likely it was to rank highly in the results for various keywords and queries.

It’s hard to deny the importance of having a lot of links. However, things have changed. Search engines are now able to better determine the relevance of links, and can recognize “unnatural” links relatively easily. It won’t look strange if your marketing blog receives a few links from other marketing blogs, but it will be suspicious if you suddenly receive a hundred inbound links from unrelated blogs or websites with no history whatsoever.

Also, the rate at which you acquire links is important. Websites tend to naturally attract links in slow drips, with a few bursts here and there (if they’re covered in the news, for example). If you regularly gain 50 links a month, there won’t be any problems—but if you go from 50 to 5000, then back to 50, search engines will probably (rightfully) suspect something fishy is going on.

Although having a lot of links is desirable, it’s risky, especially if you aren’t acquiring them naturally. This is why it’s now better to focus on quality than quantity.

Building high-quality links

Now that search engines are able to recognize relevance, intent, and linking patterns, there has been a shift in the attitude of those who build links. Instead of focusing on acquiring links from every source possible, most link builders try to acquire links from trusted sources that have higher PageRank, or are seen as authoritative resources.

Gaining a link from a website with authority or trust will not only increase the amount of exposure the content or website linked gets: it will also add a powerful boost to the authority of the linked site. For example, if a national news website covers a topic and links to one of your pages as a resource, it’s basically saying “we trust this link.” Readers will trust it, and so will search engines. This is just one example of a high quality link.

When it comes to the link building quality vs quantity argument, there is now one clear answer, thanks to Google’s algorithm updates and the shifting views of those online.

Is link quality more important than quantity?

Yes, absolutely. If the quantity of links was more important than the quality of them – that is, the quality of the source – it would be incredibly easy for websites to game search engines by building hundreds of links on unrelated or spammy websites. As we mentioned, this was once a common practice, but Google’s algorithm updates now punish websites that do this.

Just one link from a widely read news website, a popular blog, or another high quality resource can provide as much value as a hundred links from other sources. If Google trusts the website from which you’ve been linked, it’s going to trust that link, too. A followed link is essentially an editorial seal of approval.

Having said that, some links may have the “rel=nofollow” tag attached to them. This piece of HTML, typically used on social media sites or in comment sections, prevents search engines from viewing links as receiving that editorial approval. Some large sites may use this tag in the bodies of their posts for various reasons. A nofollow link doesn’t technically carry any power – but it can lead to additional links that do. So even a nofollow link can be very advantageous, and be more powerful than a few dozen followed ones from lower quality sites.

What are some quality link building and earning tips?

If you’re trying to get started with a link building campaign, or want to earn some high quality links to your website, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • If you’re contacting someone to ask for a link, keep your email short and sweet. Get right to the point, and don’t flatter them, beg for a link, or explain that you’re trying to build links. Your content should drive the request, not your need for a link.
  • Stay as relevant as possible. If your website sells furniture, it’s unlikely that a blogger interested in healthy living will want to link you.
  • Don’t be afraid of rejection – you’ll never know if you’re going to get a link until you try. Aim high. Even large news websites and blogs are in need of good stories, so give them one!
  • You will probably have to send many pitches and emails until you finally get a “yes.” In the meantime, focus on building your authority online via social media, guest posting, or commenting on websites.
  • Don’t pay anyone for a link – Google actively penalizes websites that are found to be participating in link buying and selling schemes.
  • Ask for feedback in your pitches, especially if you’re new. Some editors or bloggers may be nice enough to tell you why your content doesn’t cut it for them, which is valuable information you can use to improve your strategy.

Above all else, your focus should be on building the kind of content that people want to read, share, and talk about. Although links may not come naturally to you at first, and you may struggle with the outreach process, eventually you will build a following that can’t wait to share your latest post or comment on your blog.

Link building can be hard, but don’t be discouraged! Everyone had to start somewhere. If you feel like giving up, you can always ask for help, or consult an expert for additional advice.

How can I get started with link building?

If you want to get started with link building—or link earning—take small steps. First, focus on making the content on your website the best it can be. Create valuable resources or pages, post in your blog, or develop videos and infographics that people will want to share.

Then start to reach out to those in your industry, asking for links. With the right approach and some great content on your website, you’ll find it’s easier to get those links than you might expect!

Need help with your link building? Don’t know where to start? WebFX can help. Take a look at our link building programs, or our content marketing programs, to learn how we can boost your rankings, get your content found, and earn powerful, long-lasting links to your website.