As part of a long string of announcements confirming several things most SEO gurus know, Googles John Mueller has now clarified how backlinks improve search performance.
It’s long been theorized and proven many times that quality is more important than quantity, though perhaps the extent to which the backlink numbers are completely insignificant may not have been clear to many until now.
Following another SEO hangout with Googles John Mueller a week or so ago, we now know that millions of low-grade backlinks can’t compensate for even a single high-quality link.
The Death of Bum Backlinks
Mueller was specifically quizzed by a website owner on the issue, who submitted the following question:
“What matters most? The number of unique referring backlink domains or the total number of backlinks?”
It’s not as if backlink-related queries have not been put to Mueller before, but in this instance, he was direct and clear in his response. No ambiguity – he put to rest the age-old debate regarding quality vs. quantity in a single concise statement:
“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.”
He let the fact that Google only pays attention to links of genuine relevance and quality – the rest being a complete waste of time.
Mueller stated that the number of links you have “doesn’t matter at all” – even if you have managed to chalk up millions of them over the course of several years.
“We try to understand what is relevant for a website and how much credit we should give these individual links, you could go off and create millions of links across millions of websites if you wanted to, and we could just ignore them all.”
Given how all of these low-quality backlinks would end up completely ignored, it would be far better to invest this time and effort into getting a single backlink of high quality. Again, he stated (giving the example of a hypothetical news website) that quantity is of no relevance and quality is everything:
“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 sites home page, the total number is essentially irrelevant.”
And there it is – formal confirmation from Google itself that quality is what matters, not quantity confirmation that any backlinks you currently have that are not of 100% value and relevance are probably not doing your SEO performance any favours whatsoever.