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Link Building Quality vs Quantity: Which is More Important?

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If you think ranking your website on Google is all about smashing the backlinks and getting as many as you can; think again! This is the wrong approach and will ultimately end up with a Google penalty. See why when it comes to link building and Google rankings it's about the quality, not the quantity.

When it comes to link building, the big question is; is it the quality of the link or the quantity of links you can get?

If your SEO agency has told you that they are building lots of links, is there any cause for concern? Conversely, if you have only 1 or 2 links created in the last month, have they done their job correctly?

In this article, I want to take a closer look at the differences between quality and quantity link building and why in some cases, both matter. I’ll also look at ways to earn high-quality links that can improve the value and trust of your website and help improve its domain authority,

What is link building?

According to Wikipedia, In the field of search engine optimisation (SEO), link building describes actions aimed at increasing the number and quality of inbound links to a webpage to increase the search engine rankings of that page or website.

The primary aim of link building is to improve your Google rankings by having the best inbound links possible to your website. You can do this by manually adding links from other websites to yours ( not advisable ) or earn these links the hard way by publishing content that other people want to use as a reference on their site. Many people always ask what a backlink looks like, and you can find the answer in the FAQ section on this page.

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks send ranking signals to Google about the importance of your website. I always like to break it down to the popular v’s unpopular kid at school. Imagine an unpopular kid ( your website ) starts hanging with the cool, popular group ( other trusted websites). By proxy, this unpopular kid suddenly gains new status because of all his new friends. The same applies to your website through the backlinking process. The more popular, high DA value sites link to your, the better for you!

Because these links are so valuable and are such a vital ranking signal, they are the most common tool used by SEO agencies to build your online rankings. The school of thought when it comes to link building is the more, the better. After all, isn’t that what Google wants?

The answer is simple; no!

You cannot attain links by someone buying them online like a pair of running shoes. Links have to be acquired organically and never bought, which is also known as link earning. According to Marketing Mag, link earning may is defined as a new, wiser form of building links. It revolves around creating relevant and engaging resources that bring value to both search engines and their users. In this case, you’re building links only by creating relevant content, as people will consider them valuable enough to link to them organically. 

The above is a classic example of how Marketing Mag has earned an organic backlink from my blog. I’ve taken a snippet of their content as a reference and linked it naturally back to their webpage. It’s a win-win. I get the content, and they get the link. Since the SEO Sydney Experts blog is trustworthy ( the popular kid ), this increases the domain authority or marketing mag ( also a popular kid ). 

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: never put a link on your website from an untrustworthy website as this can harm yours. Examples include gambling, adult or payday websites.

Building a high volume of links

According to Search Engine Journal, Google’s Penguin Update killed the link building industry as it targeted webspam and manipulative link building tactics.

Pre 2012 ( and this sounds so long ago ), many SEO agencies practised Black Hat SEO techniques to fraudulently manipulate a websites page rank by building a massive amount of links. They had a whole bag of tricks up their sleeves to buy and place links in blog comments sections, cheap directories and forum comments or sign up and purchase links on many private blog networks owned by other webmasters. 

The logic was the more backlinks you had, the better. 

I don’t want to trash link building too much, as this is one of the cornerstones of our SEO strategy. But I have to warn you that the search engines can not detect any inorganic link building activities with your website. If they see any ‘unnatural activity’ where you’re trying to game the system, there will be consequences; the dreaded Google penalty. I won’t get too much into this topic at the moment. But suffice to say, if you build an unnatural amount of links from dodgy websites, this will be waiting for you. And removing this Google penalty is a nightmare.

Any credible link building SEO agency will acquire links on your behalf slowly and steadily. Link building spikes stand out, and due to their unnatural nature, the Googles Penguin algorithm will spot them. It makes perfect sense; after all, why would a new website or a site that’s not so trustworthy all of a sudden have these inbound links. It smells fishy, and Google knows this. 

Unless websites have been mentioned in the news should link should be acquired in small drips. Sure, you can have small spurts of link activity but don’t overdo this. For example, if you have been getting ten links per month for the last year, that’s OK if you follow this pattern. But, a sudden spike of up to 100 links is highly suspicious.

SEO Sydney Experts Tip: getting tons of links are desirable but those days a long gone if you think they’ll help with your Google rankings. If you want links to help with rankings, it’s quality over quantity by a long way! And, if your SEO agency boasts to you that they have all of a sudden got you 100 new links, this is a red flag.

Is link quality more important than quantity?

Yes, 100%. Just imagine if it was revered and quantity was the ranking factor – which would flip the whole ranking algorithm on its head. What would happen is you could buy a whole bunch of cheap, low-quality links and do this en masse. All you had to do was get more than your competitors, and you’d be ranking above them. You could get links from thousands of unrelated, spammy sites that offered little value, which would place untrustworthy sites at the top of the rankings. Ranking sites based on this method would be a disaster. Think about it for a moment. A new business with no history or trust could build a website, rank it and get customers. Not good! 

The Penguin algorithm has saved many consumers from dodgy businesses with no history of quickly being able to rank sites. 

Nowadays, you have to earn links naturally from credible sources to rank. One decent link from a credible news or relevant association source is far better than 100 links from useless sites.

I tell this to my customers who still feel that it’s quantity over quality. I use the friends’ analogy and liken it to it’s better to have one quality close friend than 100 acquaintances. I have also blogged about this previously: It’s not all about back links. You need quality over quantity.

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, you can have a DIY approach ( not recommended ), but here are a few pointers.,

i) If you’re reaching out to bloggers in the same industry who can put a backlink on their site to yours, make sure you check their domain authority or DA here. The higher the DA, the better the blog.

ii) Keep blogs relevant to your industry. Called topic authority, you must learn how to write informatively for your industry niche. Topic authority is a critical ranking factor in 2021 and is essential if you want to dominate your niche.

iii) If another website does not accept your link, move on. There are thousands, if not more, sites out there. Aim as high as you can by contacting trusted news sites of associations within your industry that people trust. You can see how we have achieved this via a backlink from a trusted source, AdNews.

iv) Check what your competition is doing by checking their backlink profile and see if you can get the same links. You can use the SEM Rush backlink checker. Here, a point to note is that some backlinks are toxic, ensuring that the sites seem relevant to your business. 

v) Never pay for links as Google penalises websites actively buying links. You can pay for a link via a sponsored post, but they have to tell readers that this is a paid post. Also, watch out for private blog networks. These can be hard to spot, which is why I never recommend businesses do their own backlinking.

vi) Best of all, write your great content that people will want to share and link to as a reference. It’s the BEST way to earn natural links, and you will see your blog posts start to rank the more you can write creatively.


Link building is tough, and there are times when you can get down about it when no one is linking to you. SEO for small business is not as easy as it appears. The best thing you can do is keep trying or leave it to link building agencies that know how to do this. If you still want to give it a go, then think about spicing up your blogs and posts with infographics, videos, and highly informative, entertaining copy that readers will want to keep. With the right attitude and approach, you’ll craft those blogs that will get links naturally.

If you want to talk to me about our link building services at SEO Sydney Experts, call anytime on 02 9360 8514. 

steven waldberg - ceo seo sydney experts

About the author

Steven Waldberg

Steven is the director of SEO Sydney Experts and is one of the founding members ( that’s over 18 years ago). He has one of the longest careers in the SEO and content marketing industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including B & T and AdNews. If you’re serious about working with someone who will dedicate 100% of himself to your business; Steven is your SEO Expert.

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