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Links As SEO Ranking Factor: Still Powerful After All These Years

Earlier this year, Eric Enge published a link ranking data study that rocked the SEO industry. Confirming the much-publicized statement of Google’s Andrey Lipattsev that backlinks are the most powerful ranking signal (along with content quality) in Google’s algorithm, the study showed a near-perfect correlation between the number of links to a site and its ranking in search results.
You really should read the complete study, which provides Eric’s methodology, and his arguments for why his approach more realistically shows the true correlation of links to ranking. But we are providing today an easy-to-scan digest of the study in slide deck form:

To embed this deck on your own site, copy the code below and post it into the HTML version of your post:
<iframe src=”//” width=”595″ height=”485″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;” allowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”//” title=”Links As SEO Ranking Factor: Still Very Powerful!” target=”_blank”>Links As SEO Ranking Factor: Still Very Powerful!</a> </strong> from <strong><a target=”_blank” href=”//”>Eric Enge</a></strong> </div>

Thoughts on “Links As SEO Ranking Factor: Still Powerful After All These Years”

  1. Mark,
    Thanks for posting this summary of Eric’s excellent study.
    Have you looked at how the site as a whole benefits from inbound links vs the individual pages that acquire the backlinks? In other words, what kind of lift can be expected on other pages of the site? Do all boats rise with the tide of new backlinks?

  2. Our testing showed that overall links to the domain, as expressed by Moz Domain Authority carried a great deal of weight, with an impact that was comparable to the links directly to the page, as expressed by Moz Page Authority.

  3. Very good abstract and very good article Mark,
    One of the questions I have is how can we measure the influence of links, domains and IPs.
    A los has been written about the importance of having lots of tlinks from lots of different domains (we’re not talking about quality right now).
    But, Is it really true links coming from different IPs can be a Google factor and impact on results?

  4. Good questions, Aigen. Our link study looked purely at the number of links to a site, not the authority or variety of the domains sending those links. Parsing out to test ranking strength based on the criteria you mention might be a good follow-up study for us.
    Note though the graph in the study that compares our finding compared to the correlation for Moz Domain and Page Authority. It suggests that those metrics may not be as good at predicting the actual ranking strength of a page or site as thought.

  5. Hi Mark, I don’t think the quantity vs quality debate is ever as cut-and-dried as some make it out to be. For some types of sites (particularly news publishers), being able to pump out tons of shorter “good enough” content that is pertinent to the moment (but has little-to-no evergreen value) is a winning strategy. But for most, I’d say it’s far better to have a plan to be able to create fewer (but still regular) high-quality, on-topic content pieces than to just spit out stuff nobody cares about, least of all the search engines.

  6. Hi, Mark, good share.
    I think links are still quite powerful ranking factor. We hear about Google Rankbrain how Google is evolving to use machine learning for the determining the quality of the content. In future we’ll see links having a hard time in SEO. Nevertheless, it will exist.

  7. Hi Mark,
    Hi Mark, this is a great piece. Quick question. On slide 23, it is mentioned all links were derived from high authority sites via content publishing/marketing. I’m curious however why Perficient Digital would link to high authority sites such as Huff Po, Medium, etc within the As Seen In featured on the actual study
    Does this dilute the authority/amount of the link juice determined from those sites if you link back to them as a marketing feature as done?

  8. Links are most powerful signal for ranking & will remain for very long time. I liked the last part of the study when you showed rank improved with x no of links. However I guess no of links are not relevant, I guess better links will be more useful in comparison of no of links.

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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