What matters more: backlink quality or quantity?

There is a lasting argument among some SEO enthusiasts about which backlinks are better, marketing-wise. Some will say that you should focus mostly on quality by chasing high-quality backlinks. While others claim that the quantity is what drives the wheels. If you are trying to build links for your website, this might be confusing at first. So, let’s take a look at this SEO dispute from a different angle while trying to sort out the dilemma about what matters more: backlink quality or quantity.

Should you focus on backlink quality or quantity?

The goal of the majority of websites is to improve their ranking position on search engines. Especially on Google. Because ranking, along with other factors, is directly improving your website traffic. As an essential part of every SEO strategy, backlinks are quite important for these efforts. The number and quality of backlinks are one of the signals search engines are using to evaluate websites. The more quality backlinks you have, the better is the chance that Google will recognize you as the authority. But this “the more quality backlinks” still doesn’t give us the right answer. Which remains quite an enigma, especially for those who are just starting out. To help you build a clean and healthy backlink profile, let’s try to get answers.

A triangle of effectiveness with “time”, “cost”, and “quality” words on sides.
Every SEO strategy requires you to carefully evaluate the effectiveness of each step.

What are backlinks?

In simple words, backlinks are links sending visitors to your website from other places. That can be other websites, directories, social media, blogs, and all kinds of platforms and apps. Among which, the most valuable are those coming from places relevant to your niche and industry.

When working on improving your website’s ranking position, you should look at three things:

  • Domain Authority (DA) – the credibility of the entire website and the quality of information it presents.
  • Page Authority (PA) – the measurement of the potential ranking strength of each page, developed by Moz.
  • Relevance – checks how relevant your website and its content are to search engines’ key phrases.

All things considered, backlinks are helping strengthen the domain authority, help your pages rank better, and serve as a confirmation your content is relevant for both search engines and people.

Now that we disclosed what they basically are, let’s explain which is better: backlink quality or quantity.

Backlink quality

High-quality backlinks are coming from websites with high domain authority. Those are websites both people and search engines deem as credible and reliable sources of information. The higher their domain authority is, the more value they pass to your website. In general, websites with DA above 60 are excellent. If the value is between 40 and 60 it’s quite decent. While DA below 40 is not so good. When you want to acquire high-quality backlinks for your website, authoritative websites relevant to your industry are the place to go. However, getting quality links is hard and time-consuming. Especially for new websites.

The benefits of quality backlinks

Besides the obvious, and already mentioned, there are other benefits. You can get as many quality links as you can, without any negative aspects. Those are links coming from reputable and trustworthy sources and you will never get a penalty for spam or anything similar. Unlike the links from suspicious places that can easily lead your website into trouble. The best part with quality backlinks is that this transparency and credibility ensures continuous traffic to your website. Which, overall, is incredibly important for your SEO efforts. In the end, it’s better to get one quality backlink than dozens of backlinks with low quality.

SEO process diagram.
The SEO process has many parts, don’t focus on one tactic only, at the expense of others.

The negative side of quality backlinks

Even though quality backlinks are highly valuable for your SEO, there is a negative side. They are usually very hard to come by and require a lot of time to build. And this can be particularly devastating if you have a fresh website. It’s easy for older and well-established websites to get quality backlinks from other reliable sources. But for those websites that are just starting to build their online presence and authority, this can be difficult. Eventually, if you are focusing only on quality backlinks, it will take you a significant amount of time to build a good link profile.

Backlink quantity

Another part of the dispute is talking about focusing on quantity rather than quality. However, this doesn’t mean you should get countless links from unreliable and suspicious places. Your SEO strategy is to acquire backlinks from websites with medium or eventually low DA. But, they still have to be reliable and relevant. By chasing quantity, you are focusing on getting as many backlinks as possible, without particularly aiming for high quality. And with this, you can still get a decent amount of traffic and credibility.

The benefits of quantity

There are several benefits of building backlinks without chasing for quality only:

  • this type of backlinks are much easier to obtain
  • it doesn’t require much time like with high-quality backlinks
  • this is also helping you with ranking positions

Additionally, since the number of referring domains is one of the ranking factors, it’s good to have plenty of backlinks from different domains. Plus, even the number of links can improve your rankings, which is much easier to do than with sparse quality backlinks.

The negative side of chasing quantity

When focusing on quantity, you are focusing on backlinks that have less value. This means you will need a lot of them to compensate for the value you are missing on with quality backlinks. Yes, they are easy to obtain but your websites are sometimes at risk. It’s quite easy to accidentally get low-quality backlinks from unreliable sources. There are, however, mechanisms to monitor and prevent these errors, but links from suspicious and spammy sources can damage your SEO efforts.

Monitoring website statistics on a laptop.
Always monitor your backlinks to avoid errors and penalties.

So, finally, it’s time to answer the burning question about what matters more: backlink quality or quantity? The only answer that is right is that they both matter. Depending on the situation and on circumstances, some websites can benefit from one type, more than from the other. But, overall, the best course of action would be to actually try to be somewhere in the middle. If you have means, get those valuable quality backlinks. If not, don’t stop, try to build as many mid-quality backlinks as possible.

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