What makes a great link?
One that’s natural, not rich in anchor text, comes from an authoritative site, and is relevant, right?
Well, you already knew that. It’s a topic that’s been beaten to death. Heck, I even have a 30,000 plus word guide that teaches you all about link building.
But what about link-building velocity? How many links should you be building, and how fast should you build them?
Don’t fret—I’m going tell you how many links you should be building and at what rate you should be building them.
How many links should you be building?
The more links you have pointing to your website the better, right? There is a big misconception that more is better.
No matter how many links your competitors have, you shouldn’t focus on quantity. You should focus on quality. A link from a site like CNN, assuming it is coming from a relevant section and article, will carry much more weight than 10 links from mom and pop sites.
In essence, I’m telling you that you should try to build as many high quality links as possible—ideally to internal pages versus your homepage.
Why internal pages? Well, it’s easier to build them to deep pages than to your homepage. Just think about it… would you rather link to an educational content piece published on an internal page or to a homepage that is selling a product or service? An internal page, right?
As for quantity, you won’t beat out sites that have 10,000 links using this tactic, but you will have many more authoritative links, which will help you outrank your competition.
How fast should you be building links to your website?
Assuming the links you are building are clean, you typically don’t have to worry about velocity. Even if you build many links fast, you should be fine in general.
But over the years, I’ve noticed a trend…mainly with new sites or websites with fewer than 100 links. If you build 500 links in the first 30 days to a brand new site, or to a site that doesn’t have more than 100 inbound links, you’ll notice that your rankings may drop temporarily.
Eventually, they’ll move up to a higher spot than their initial placement, but building too fast is unnatural. I don’t know how Google’s algorithm is programmed to deal with velocity, but this is at least what I have noticed over the last four to five years.
So if you have a new site or an older site with very few inbound links, consider building 5 to 10 during the first 30 days. Over the following few months, you can ramp it up. Here’s the velocity I would shoot for:
- Month 1 – build 5 to 10 inbound links (ideally to your homepage)
- Month 2 – build 10 to 15 inbound links (mix it up between your homepage and internal pages)
- Month 3 – build 20 to 30 inbound links (mix it up between your homepage and internal pages)
- Month 4 – build 30 to 40 inbound links (focus on internal pages)
- Month 5 – build 40 plus links a month (focus on internal pages)
- Month 6 – build as many high quality links as possible (focus on internal pages)
As you can see, the first few months, you are focusing on building links to your homepage and to your internal pages, but later you shift your focus purely to internal pages.
Why? Because it’s not natural to have the majority of your links pointing to your homepage. Just look at Quick Sprout… I don’t build links to the blog, and here is the total number of links pointing to the whole site:
And of those 9,143 links, only 19.8% point to the homepage.
In essence, over 80.2% of my total link count is going to internal pages.
If you have an older site with over 100 inbound links, you can build as many links as you want each month. The reason I’m saying this is that it is very unlikely that you’ll be able to build more than 50 a month.
Not only does it take time to ramp up your link building, but it’s really hard to get over 50 new links in a month, unless you are buying them or you’ve written a blog post that goes viral.
What happens if you build too many links too fast?
If you’ve built too many links too fast, don’t worry. You shouldn’t get hit with a Penguin penalty or anything like that, assuming your links are high in quality, relevant, and aren’t rich in anchor text.
The only thing that might happen is that your search traffic might stay flat for a few months or maybe even dip a bit, but after three months, you should see a sharp climb in search traffic.
If you aren’t seeing a sharp climb in search traffic, it means either the links you built aren’t high in quality or you have thin content. If it’s neither of the two, then you need to add more pages to your website and adjust how you cross-link your internal pages.
Nonetheless, those are simple fixes that should lead to more traffic. Just don’t get nervous if you don’t notice an increase in traffic right away.
Even when you build high quality links, it usually takes three to six months for the results to start showing up. So if you are investing a lot of man-hours into link building, don’t get nervous or quit if you don’t see results within the first two or three months.
Using the formula above, I’ve ranked for dozens of competitive terms on the web. For example, I used to run a blog called Online Poker Lowdown, and within six months, I got to page one of Google for the term “online poker.” All I did was follow the six-month plan above.
Sure, the site doesn’t rank anymore, but it’s because I sold it and stopped working on it years ago.
As you start link-building using the formula above, you’ll find that your website will rank for more long tail terms. Over time, you’ll also rank for more head terms, but the majority of your search traffic will come from three- or four-word search phrases.
When leveraging links to grow your search traffic, keep in mind that the easiest form of link-building is through content marketing. By creating really good information, instead of begging for links, you will increase the likelihood of people sharing and linking to your content.
It’s the main reason why I produce so many infographics on Quick Sprout.