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How Many Backlinks Do I Need to Rank in Google? Full Analysis and Free Template

In this post I am going to demystify the confusing question and provide you with a template and system to answer a key question…

“How many backlinks do I need to get to the first page in Google?”

Want My Team to Complete a Backlink Competitive Analysis For You?

I show you everything we do to analyze a websites competitive position in terms of links in this monster of a post!

If you want my team to complete this analysis for a REALLY low price simply sign up below... 

How Does This Quick Valuable Service Work?

  1. Order by clicking on the link below
  2. Enter your URL and email into a short form
  3. Receive a custom report prepared by me and my team in under 1 week!

From the report you will know...

  • ​What keywords you are currently ranking for
  • Who your competitors are
  • How many quality links they have
  • How many quality links you have
  • Suggested strategy to close the gap between you and your competitors!

The Confusion!

People often email me with some variation of the above question and I can definitely understand the frustration!

  • “I have done everything the gurus say to do and done great keyword research and created great content but I get so little traffic and am not ranking anywhere near the first page!”
  • “I built a website, it doesn’t get the rankings it deserves and when I search for answers I end up in paralysis by analysis”
  • “I know I need backlinks but I don’t have any clue as to how many I need 5, 10, 100, 1000? How can I tell”

This frustration is completely understandable…I shared it as well.

The Case for Backlinks

If you do 3 things well when it comes to building a website it is going to get traffic…

  1. Solid Keyword Research 
  2. Create better content than anything else out there
  3. Get more quality backlinks than your competition

If you do those 3 things over time it will be rare you don’t have success!

The first 2 (keyword research and content) are well documented but how many and how to get links is definitely not simple!

Brian DeanBacklinko.com July 5, 2016

Backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor. We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor

MozRanking Factors

The 2 most important factors are links "1. Domain Level Link Features" and "2. Page-Level Link Features"

What If There Was a Systematic Way to Know the Answer!

What I am going to share with you today is a systematic way to break down the questions above and truly understand how many links you should be prepared to get to compete with your competition.

We will simplify this question way down to 4 steps and include a template for you to follow!

Whether you are thinking about going into a market or are currently in one this process can be used to know what you need to do to compete!

How To Analyze The Number of Backlinks You Need to Compete?

Overview:

  1. What are the keywords you are currently ranking for (or attempting to rank for)?
  2. Who are your top competitors?
  3. What is the gap in terms of the number of links your competition has vs you?
  4. Get the additional links you need to either compete or better yet crush your competition!

Detailed Tutorial:

For the purposes of this tutorial we are going to use a website that I have no association with as the case study site!

Introducing our case study site, http://rangefinderadvice.com/ (I have no association with this site). We are going to consider ourselves the owner of this site and try to answer the question of how many links do we still need to get to page 1?

For this tutorial there is a Free Google Document template that helps with this

Step 1 – Determine what keywords you are currently ranking for using SEMRush.com

For the case study site http://rangefinderadvice.com/ it is clear that there are some pillar articles they are wanting to rank for so we will do the analysis for each of these 3 pages to say how many links are needed for each of the main money pages to rank well…

  • http://rangefinderadvice.com/best-golf-rangefinders/
  • http://rangefinderadvice.com/best-hunting-rangefinders/
  • http://rangefinderadvice.com/best-golf-gps-reviews/

Running each page through SEMRush.com we see how the site is doing for each of the target keywords…

  • ​URL = rangefinderadvice.com/best-golf-rangefinders
    • Keyword = Best golf rangefinder
    • Google Rank = 24
  • URL = rangefinderadvice.com/best-hunting-rangefinders
    • Keyword = best hunting rangefinder
    • Google Rank = 5
  • URL = rangefinderadvice.com/best-golf-gps-reviews
    • Keyword = Best golf GPS watch
    • Google Rank = 20

(Enter the URL into SEMRush and see what keywords it ranks for or how it ranks for the keyword you are targeting)

(Enter the details into the free Google Spreadsheet Template I created here for you)

Step 2 – Find your competition for those keywords using Google

In this step you want to find sites similar to yours that are ranking well in Google for the keyword you are wanting to rank for.

  • TIP – The key is to identify sites similar to yours! You don’t want to be comparing your site to an Amazon Page or Wikipedia page… if you are an ecommerce store find other similar ecommerce store or likewise if you are an Amazon affiliate site (such as this example).
  • In the example the first 3 results are all amazon affiliate sites which shows that as long as the on page content and SEO is of a similar quality the key difference maker is the number of links!

Now enter the 3 competitor URLs into the Google Sheet Template

Step 3 – Determine the difference in the number of referring IP’s between you and your competition.

Now it is time to determine if us ranking at 25 for the same keyword and similar sites is due to the number of backlinks to the site and if it is the reason how big is the gap?

Using MajesticSEO.com we enter each ranking URL into the Site Explorer.

Our Example Website:

1st Place Result:

Now entering the number of Referring IPs into the spreadsheet provides a picture showing the gap between the site we are wanting to rank and the first page results.

  • TIP 1 – You can do this all with a free account if you are just wanting to analyze 1 site
  • TIP 2 – NOT every backlink is created equal. If you want to get a more accurate analysis you can choose a TF level to filter out. For example remove all Referring IPs with a TF < 5 to get a better understanding of the link profile you need to overcome.

Step 4 – Determine the Gap and How to Close It!

Now that you know how your site matches up to the first page competition it is time to decide how do you act on this information.

In the template I tried to provide a suggestion on how to close the backlinks.

If this was my personal money site and I had an average gap in the number of referring IPs to the homepage I would have the following strategy…

  • 7 White Hat Outreach Links (guest posts, sponsored posts, broken link building, outreach, ego bait etc)

This would help close the gap by around 27 links which should allow us to get to page 1 based on the quality of the links but at a minimum would give us a really good understanding of how many additional links would be needed.

Here is the full analysis for the sites 3 main pages…

What I find very interesting is that there is one of the three pages that is ranking on the first page in position 5 and it is the only one of those 3 articles that has a small gap.

  • TIP – One aspect of SEO I really enjoy is the ability to see marginal improvement and adjust course as needed. What this means is that if you think you have a 50 referring IP backlink gap… don’t try and close it all in one big blow schedule it out over
  • TIP – Regardless of your gap and budget I advise that you schedule out the link acquisition over time (2-3 months in the case study example).
  • TIP – The best backlink strategy is one that uses a mix of backlink sources and doesn’t over-rely on any one tactic regardless of how “safe” it is. My goal is to ensure Google can not “finger print” my money sites as “built with PBNs” or similar.

Does this Repeatedly Work?

Does this systematic method of analyzing the number of backlinks you might need work? Here is one example of a team who used an extremely systematic approach to build up a portfolio of sites in 2015.

Their approach was extremely systematic with each site going through the a detailed/systematic process of…

  1. Solid Keyword Research
  2. Great Content Creation
  3. Similar Backlink Analysis (they relied heavily on PBN sites for their links in this case)

The results of their systematic approach was the creation of a very healthy looking portfolio of sites!

Can My Team Help You?

Want My Team to Complete a Backlink Competitive Analysis For You?

I show you everything we do to analyze a websites competitive position in terms of links in this monster of a post!

If you want my team to complete this analysis for a REALLY low price simply sign up below... 

How Does This Quick Valuable Service Work?

  1. Order by clicking on the link below
  2. Enter your URL and email into a short form
  3. Receive a custom report prepared by me and my team in under 1 week!

From the report you will know...

  • ​What keywords you are currently ranking for
  • Who your competitors are
  • How many quality links they have
  • How many quality links you have
  • Suggested strategy to close the gap between you and your competitors!

About the Author Jon Haver

I am a 31 year old husband, father of 2, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours. I am not a GURU but just a regular guy who is grinding out 12+hr days to build a life for my family on terms.
Jon Haver, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

16 comments
Ricky says July 11, 2016

Question for you regarding backlinks, Jon. Let’s say there’s a website that you’re looking to rank for the following: the homepage, a main page that links to the long tail states pages and all 50 long tail local SERPs across all US states. Would you ideally want links going back to the homepage, the main page that links out to each state page, or the long tail pages which include certain info on all cities/towns within that state page? Homepage and main page that links to state pages both have the higher LMS compared to the local page which includes city/town info, but in aggregate the local pages LMS really adds up. For example if a website in the Tennessee local market was going to link back and you could choose which page they will link to, should you have them link to the long tail Tennessee page, the main page which links internally to Tennessee plus the other US states, or to the homepage? Hope I haven’t lost you in the details. Just wondering what your thoughts are here? Thanks!

Reply
    Jon Haver says July 11, 2016

    Hi Ricky, great question. I can say that what I have seen is that a natural link profile usually ends up around 50% of all links to a site go to the homepage while the remainder go to subpages. So keeping a natural linking profile is always an important thing to think about regardless of how you go about getting the links built. Regarding the linking structure I think I understand the question and I suggest having a link back to at least the level above for example if you had 3 levels… Home < -> State < -> City. I hope this answers your question.

    Reply
      Ricky says July 12, 2016

      Thanks for giving my question some thought. I appreciate your feedback (as well as your posts…long time reader and they are always helpful and timely). Just wondering if as you mentioned the linkback should go to the level above then in the Tennessee example I gave, this hypothetical linkback would go to the best place to have the link built is to the main page which links out to the Tennessee page plus 49 other state pages. Am I interpretting this correctly?

      Reply
    Joe Kizlauskas says July 11, 2016

    Don’t forget about internal link juice. A decent silo structure works wonders for rankings. I would hit the homepage with 50% of links. Spread about another 25% to the main page that links to the state page, then just sprinkle the other 25% around the site.

    That should get it ranking if the state pages are very longtail and not that competitive.

    Reply
      Stephen says August 13, 2016

      Really good point. Probably why churning out content provides such big boosts in SERPs, assuming internal link structure is strong

      Reply
Max Cho says July 11, 2016

Hey Jon,

Quick question.. I have been following up on your posts and they are extremely valuable content. I appreciate all the posts you already put out there. I was referred to you by Nichepursuits originally and have been following your content. One thing I struggle with the most in link building.. actually I have never done ‘link-building’. Its got to a point where I would love someone to hold my hand to go through how to link build. Anytime I try to do some link building I run into my website is missing some piece of content for me to do link building. So I’ve been putting it off. Is there a course or something I can take someone can help me link build step by step? Are there any good paid programs that will help me do that? Any answers are much appreciated.

Reply
Max Cho says July 11, 2016

The website above is my first niche website. Targeting KW’s and creating content. I didn’t put up many informational posts yet but planning to. How many informational pages do I need to link build or do I need informational posts to link build? Or are money pages enough to link build? And Spencer mentions not to use PBN’s but yet on this post you mentioned PBN’s. What should I do? I’m not ranking as of this moment (dunno if this is b/c its a new site and still caught in the google sandbox stage) but would love to learn whatever wisdom you can sprinkle on me. Thank you Jon…. Max

Reply
Billal Sarker says July 11, 2016

Nice analysis. But one problem, most of PBN user hide there PBN sites from moz, majestic etc. So what is the procedure to find out backlinks of that niche site who are using PBN? Is there any criteria? Thanks for the nice article.

Reply
    Jon Haver says July 11, 2016

    Hi Billal, really good point…some people hide their PBN and in this case the key is that you are using multiple sites in your space. So although if someone is hiding their PBN you won’t get an accurate number but since you are comparing to 3 competitors and multiple keywords you should be able to still get a decent indication on the approx number of quality links you need to compete for page 1.

    Reply
jesus says July 11, 2016

Hello , thanks Jon for a such of piece of content , You are helping to many people with this , including me .
I am new at this , and i think like me , other are struggling with process to make the job done.
Thanks and keep going producing content ,
and thanks ones again to answer may question by mail so quickly.

Reply
jesus says July 11, 2016

Jon one question for you

I can see in the site explorer results that they suggest two different results one for http:// and the other for non http:// they seen have different results for both forms ?

The second one is way far more IP coming to the domain

Thanks in advances..

Reply
    Jon Haver says July 20, 2016

    Yes great question… pick the URL that is ranking in Google if you get taken to the www us it for reference or if you are taken to the non www then use it in Majestic.

    Reply
Alex says July 12, 2016

Hi Jon
Thanks for the great post.
Can you explain your calculations please.
=$H5*-1*0.2
=$H5*-1*0.25
=$H5*-1*0.15
Quick Questions:
1) Why the differences between each?
2) Why are you multiplying by 20% only?

Many thanks!

Reply
david says July 18, 2016

This is a very simplistic way of looking at backinks. Don’t you look at the quality of the links ?!

Reply
    Jon Haver says July 20, 2016

    It is simplistic… the way to make it better is to filter out the IPs with a TF < 5 however the cost for adding complexity is time. So although this is simple it is my preferred approach.

    Reply
Steve says October 5, 2016

I don’ t this it is a science yet 🙂
No backlink checker will give all the links, especially if the links are coming from PBNs. Is that right?

Reply
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