Links – still the game changer when it comes to ranking

This week a very interesting study examining the impact of links on organic rankings was published by Eric Enge from Stone Temple Consulting.

As we’ve previously mentioned, when it comes to achieving top rankings, Google has stated the three most important factors are Content, Links and RankBrain.

The study by Stone Temple Consulting builds on previous correlation studies by Moz and Searchmetrics examining the impact of different ranking factors. These studies looked at the impact of multiple ranking factors (not just links), and each showed a strong correlation exists between links and rankings.

Where this study differs is that it was limited only to examining the impact of links and used different statistical models to analyse the results. The study aggregated the count of links by ranking position for the top 50 results across 6,000 search results pages and reveals a near-perfect correlation between links and ranking.

In other words, despite some naysayers suggesting otherwise, links remain a very powerful ranking factor.

So which is more important when it comes to ranking – content or links?

The answer is content.

The study shows that while links are hugely important to high rankings, if your content isn’t competitive in terms of relevance and quality, links won’t help.

But if it is, then links will make the difference.

If you have a good head for statistics and maths, then you may well enjoy digging through the details of the report which you can read here. Otherwise, below is a short video.

Why should you care?

This report clearly shows that if you’re serious about ranking high in Google for competitive terms you need to ensure you do both of the following:

  1. Create great website content and user experiences. (Doing this just gets you a seat at the table and gives you a chance to compete for top rankings).
  2. Then proactively market your business doing the types of things that cause people to write about and link to your website. In other words; content marketing, PR and link outreach.

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About the Author Mark Sceats

Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).

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