Which kinds of links are most valuable for high rankings?

Which kinds of links are most valuable for high rankings?

What does link-building look like right now? What tactics work? Is it all about quality content or do more shady tactics still get results? 

Glen Allsop of ViperChill posted another excellent article recently, distilling the findings from his own manual analysis of 1,000 search results.

He looks at the link structure of various sites, trying to ascertain the kinds of links that help some sites rank, the tactics (white hat and not-so white hat) used by sites to rank, and the effects of factors like number of links and word count.

It’s a monster of a post – more than 5,000 words I’d guess – but truly worth a read. All I’ll do here is list some of the key lessons from Glen’s analysis.

The most common backlinks are natural

Glen found that natural (i.e. earned) backlinks top the chart, which is as it should be.


prominent backlink types viperchill


However, the study also found that many high ranking websites have some very low quality backlinks. They are things like forum pages, blog comments, and non-English Blogspot blogs. They’re not earned, but can be easily created.

Indeed, a recent look at Skyscanner’s impressive search rankings revealed something similar. There are quality links there, but plenty which could be classed as ‘low-quality’. Perhaps these are the result of older link building efforts, who knows?

Link volume does not influence ranking

It’s about quality not quantity. As this chart shows, the volume of backlinks does not correlate with ranking.


backlinks number

Variety of linking domains helps

Obvious perhaps, but good to reinforce. A variety of links from different domains matters much more than volume.



Longer content and high rankings

There have been a few studies suggesting a correlation between longer form content and higher search rankings.

It makes sense, as in theory, longer content can be more likely to satisfy the user (it’s detailed, covers key questions etc), and in turn more likely to attract links.

Glen’s data backs this point up. The average word count on all results was 1,762, and higher counts tended to correlate with higher rankings.


word-count-1 (1)

Link building tactics that still work

A few weeks ago, we talked about another finding around sitewide footer links used by some sites, and how tactics like this help the ‘rich get richer’ in search (this was another finding from ViperChill).

In this article, Glen looks at how Houzz uses a widget to  mbed dozens of hard-coded links in the websites of those who host it. It seems this tactic is still in use.

Good content still works

Writing quality content to attract links is still an excellent tactic. Evergreen content is key to this.

The example used here is a beginners guide to the Paleo diet, from the nerdfitness blog. It has attracted links from 800 domains and continues to deliver traffic to this day.


paleo diet


Why does it still attract links? Four reasons:

  • High ranking. It’s up there right now, so when people look for resources to link to, there it is.
  • It’s a good article. It’s there because it serves a need. It’s also comprehensive which means people don’t need to look elsewhere.
  • Internal links. The sidebar on the homepage links to the post so it continues to accrue traffic.
  • Loyal audience. The site has an engaged audience who appreciate and link to the content.

Dodgy tactics can still work

There are still plenty of dubious tactics that are helping websites achieve high rankings.

For example, this .info site has 195,000 links from 242 domains, that’s more than 800 per domain. I’m ‘sure’ they’re all earned, natural links though…




The study found less private blog networks than expected, but also finds that they still work.

In summary

I’ve only scratched the surface of the study here, so please check out the full article for much more. It is itself a great example of creating quality (and long-form) content that attracts links. I’m sure we won’t be the only site linking to it.


[Search Engine Watch]

July 2, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Scooblrinc.com is a website owned and operated by Scooblr, Inc. By accessing this website and any pages thereof, you agree to be bound by the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, as amended from time to time. Scooblr, Inc. does not verify or assure that information provided by any company offering services is accurate or complete or that the valuation is appropriate. Neither Scooblr nor any of its directors, officers, employees, representatives, affiliates or agents shall have any liability whatsoever arising, for any error or incompleteness of fact or opinion in, or lack of care in the preparation or publication, of the materials posted on this website. Scooblr does not give advice, provide analysis or recommendations regarding any offering, service posted on the website. The information on this website does not constitute an offer of, or the solicitation of an offer to buy or subscribe for, any services to any person in any jurisdiction to whom or in which such offer or solicitation is unlawful.