Google’s John Mueller Clarifies How Google Views Backlinks!

Anyone involved in SEO knows that backlinking is a SERP factor. Many years ago backlinking farms set up to try and gain favour with the algorithms, with the promise that if everyone kept linking up, it would benefit the ratings. Even then I didn’t go for black hat SEO tactics, but I recall anyone with a website in the 90’s suggesting they ‘swap’ links, e.g. suppliers and customers of the business. These were seen as more relevant, they were links with recommendations.

We know today that backlinking farms are penalised and sites participating in them will not find favour. It comes down to common sense when backlinking and it has recently been clarified.

During the Google Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded Feb 19th, a site owner submits the following question to Mueller: “What matters most? The number of unique referring backlink domains or the total number of backlinks?”

According to sources Mueller isn’t always upfront and forthcoming when it comes to what is looking for.

Mueller advises companies not to focus on how many links you can get to your site, but rather focus on the quality.

Here is what he said:

“I don’t think we differentiate like that in our systems. From my point of view, I would tend not to focus on the total number of links to your site, or the total number of domain links to your website, because we look at links in a very different way.”

So very clearly you can see no matter how many links you try and gain, the number isn’t a factor.   If your SEO agency or in-house webmaster is spending a lot of time getting people to backlink, you need to ask them to stop and point out to them that Google COULD just ignore them all.

“We try to understand what is relevant for a website, how much should we weigh these individual links, and the total number of links doesn’t matter at all. Because you could go off and create millions of links across millions of websites if you wanted to, and we could just ignore them all.”

Then ask them to consider the following statement from the live event:

“Or there could be one really good link from one website out there that is, for us, a really important sign that we should treat this website as something that is relevant because it has that one link. I don’t know, maybe from like a big news site’s home page, for example. So the total number essentially is completely irrelevant.”

This couldn’t be clearer, a site of high importance is a factor that could score far higher than a site with many links that could just be ignored.

However, there is also another factor that also needs to be built in.  A site of high authority, that is ranked as ‘important’ that is relevant to your website will also be well considered.

The nub of the matter
1.  Don’t go for quantity of quality
2.  Look for quality and authority
3.  Add in relevance (e.g. if your site is a food related site and your link comes from a highly rated site also in the food industry, or with sections relating to food) it adds.

You need to a strategy.  Identify sites that you want to obtain backlinks from, identify competition and see who they get links from, list ones that are at a higher level and have more relevance and then develop a strategy to get links back to your site.

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