Do you know how many backlinks you need to rank in the top 10? What types of content generate links passively? Or how many months to wait before seeing the results from link building?
We feel you! We also wanted to find answers backed up by real numbers. That’s why we’ve decided to dig down the web and put together the 35 link building studies you can act on in 2023.
Let’s get into it!
Is Link Building Important?
Getting straight to the point, link building is important. We believe at DigitalOlympus that search engine algorithms will keep evolving, and link quality will become even more critical as links are integral to ranking factors.
Now, we’re witnessing the effect of the Penguin algorithm, the E-A-T update, the Link Spam algorithm update (2021), and many others that are all about high content quality and relevance — for internal pages and referring pages alike.
So link building is affecting and will be affecting search engine rankings because backlinks, in their essence, factor into the quality and trustworthiness of a website/web page.
Plus, we see a direct correlation between the number of high-quality backlinks and site rankings in Google search results.
Now let’s go over some facts and link building stats that contribute to an effective link building campaign.
General Link Building Statistics
Here we’ve compiled intriguing statistics about link building that can’t be translated into link effectiveness but nonetheless get you thinking. We especially like #2, #3, #6, and #10.
- Google regards content pieces and backlinks as the primary factors for ranking for a target keyword. Next is RankBrain. (Search Engine Round Table)
- Having lots of backlinks helps pages rank higher than pages that don’t have as many. On average, Google’s #1 result has 3.8x more backlinks than positions #2-#10. (Backlinko)
- Only 2.2% of published online content generates multiple backlinks. (Backlinko)
Pro Tip: If you spot some content pieces in your niche acquiring a decent number of links, study them thoroughly and understand why. Try to replicate this tactic to create linkable assets.
- Link building is rated as the most difficult SEO practice by 41% of large companies (over 1,000 employees). (Conductor)
- The majority of web pages (66.31%) don’t have any backlinks (Ahrefs)
- Content that gets many social shares and goes viral doesn’t usually receive backlinks. It’s safe to say there’s no correlation between backlinks and social media shares as Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.078. (Backlinko)
- 49% of marketers say it takes one to three months to see a difference in rankings and organic traffic from link building efforts. While 30% of marketers voted for three to six months to feel the impact of placing links. (Aira)
- Link building is the most challenging part of SEO, according to 65% of digital marketers. (SEO Tribunal)
- 40% of marketers named getting links from outreach targets (e.g., bloggers outreach, guest posting) as the most challenging part of the link building process. (Aira)
- The more domains link to a page, the higher chances for it to rank higher in Google. (Backlinko)
Link Building Effectiveness Statistics
Now, let’s learn what marketers and SEO specialists say about the impact of link building on SEO results. Sure, everybody believes and sees the positive effect on rankings, but let’s look at what the numbers tell us.
- When SEO experts were asked whether links positively influence rankings, 48% categorically responded that they do. 34% of respondents also said yes, with one caveat: the website has no major SEO issues. (Aira)
- 92% of marketers believe that links will still be considered ranking factors in Google algorithms in five years. (Aira)
- According to 13% of search experts from enterprise companies, building high-quality links is the most important SEO tactic. (Conductor)
- 52% of digital marketers noticed the direct impact of link building and brand mentions on organic search rankings. (Aira)
- About 58% of businesses believe link building affects their ranking in the SERPs. (uSERP)
- The quality and quantity of links influence rankings, according to 56% of businesses. (uSERP)
- 85% of marketers think that link building helps build brand awareness. (uSERP)
Link Building Strategies and Tactics Statistics
Do most companies hire external link building services to handle link building? What % of cold emails result in placing a backlink? What is a new popular tactic to earn links for SaaS?
Let’s find the answers below!
Warning: This chapter may affect your strategic decisions on link building.
- A third of businesses (36%) hire freelancers or experts/agencies to build links. (Aira)
Hiring a link building agency allows companies to acquire backlinks super fast and at scale with low risk. These are the main reasons why businesses prefer outsourcing backlinks. In fact, we at Digital Olympus can deliver up to 50 links from high-quality, relevant domains during the first months of collaboration. We also advocate transparency, so our clients know the outlets we’ll target for placing links.
- Over 40% of marketers believe content marketing (aka linkable assets) is the best way to generate passive links. (uSERP)
- The most popular link building tactic in 2021 was linkable asset creation. (Aira)
- Only 8.5% of cold emails get results when it comes to link building. (Backlinko)
- 69% of SEOs report on «nofollow» links as part of their link building process. (Aira)
Although «nofollow» links don’t pass any link juice (or in very rare cases if Google decides so), SEOs choose to place «nofollow» links to diversify backlink profiles. Having only «dofollow» links seems unnatural to Google and may result in getting a site penalized.
- Among marketers, 53% say page rankings are their top KPI for measuring link building effectiveness. (Aira)
- 77.2% more links go to long-form content than short articles. (Backlinko)
- On average, blog posts over 3,000 words receive more backlinks than those under 3,000 words. (Moz)
- On average, «Why Posts,» «What Posts,» and infographics got 25.8% more links compared to videos and «How-to» posts. (Backlinko)
- «List Posts» and «Why Posts» amass a higher number of external links than other content formats. (Moz)
- Websites with higher domain authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlate with higher rankings. In turn, poor rankings are associated with a low DR. (Backlinko)
- A competitive analysis and link targeting strategy generate 54% of links for businesses (Aira)
Knowing this, you can try to beat your competitors by incorporating new link building tactics. For example, leverage testimonial opportunities and broken links, craft linkable assets, develop a free tool, etc.
- Nearly 50% of top-ranking pages utilize reciprocal links. (Ahrefs)
Link Building Costs Statistics
Link building is usually considered expensive, something that eats up a third of your marketing budget with intangible results. Is it so? Let’s see what benchmarks tell us.
- Over 40% of businesses expect link building will get more expensive. (Aira)
- Getting a quality link can cost brands more than $ 1,000. (Siege Media)
- 31% of marketers say link building takes up no more than 10% of their SEO budget. (Aira)
- The average cost of paid backlinks (which is considered a «black hat SEO» tactic) is $ 360. (Ahrefs)
- 43% of marketers spend more than $ 10,000 per month on link building, while 13% spend between $ 1,000 and $ 2,500. (Aira)
What We Believe Is the Future of Backlinks in SEO
- Guest blogging and outreach are gradually becoming insufficient link building tactics.
- Cold email outreach requires hyper-personalized campaigns to make it an effective channel for getting links.
- Link building communities are gold mines for building quality backlinks.
We see a few trends that have been strengthening over the past few years. Guest blogging and cold email outreach are both slowly turning into outdated link building strategies. For sure, both can still generate a good flow of links, but their efficiency is quite questionable.
Google is smart enough to catch on the fly that sites are working on getting links from guest posts at scale. As a result, it can easily give less priority to such sites in the SERPs. But the biggest issue with guest posting is that the quality of content is rather mediocre, consequently affecting the quality of links placed in guest articles.
When it comes to cold email outreach, the issue is that, with the growing spam problem, people are becoming blind to such messages. It’s similar to banner blindness when users are not «seeing» banners.
We switched to hyper-personalized email outreach, which means we started to add as many custom fields in our email templates as possible. Moving forward, Pitchbox adds all the info and sends ultra-personalized emails to recipients. Hyper-personalization requires heaps of time, but the ends justify the means.
Lastly, we want to share our most effective way to build links nowadays — to join the communities of like-minded link builders either on Facebook or Slack. That’s where people build links.
Link building statistics are more than just fancy numbers. They get you to think differently and look at building links from another perspective.
If you need any help with building links, reach out to our team. Working with us, you’ll get links to only sites you’ve approved. See you soon!