Is Link Diversity Really a Ranking Factor? We Did The Tests





Blog Date

June 6, 2024


UK, Manchester

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Is Link Diversity Really a Ranking Factor? We Did The Tests

Link Diversity: The Overlooked Ranking Factor?

As an SEO nerd, I’m always on the hunt for the latest insights into Google’s ever-evolving algorithm. And when it comes to link building, there’s one factor that has always fascinated me: link diversity.

Conventional SEO wisdom has long held that getting links from a diverse set of domains is key to ranking success. The idea is that Google views a site with backlinks from a wide range of sources as more trustworthy and authoritative than one with links from a small number of domains.

But is this really the case? Or is link diversity just another SEO myth that’s been blown out of proportion?

Recently, the team at Backlinko analyzed 11.8 million Google search results to uncover the truth about link diversity and other key ranking factors. And let me tell you, the findings were nothing short of mind-blowing.

Putting Link Diversity to the Test

In their analysis, the Backlinko team looked at a whole host of potential ranking factors, from content length and site speed to schema markup and user experience signals.

But when it came to links, they zeroed in on one key metric: the number of unique referring domains pointing to a page.

The logic was simple: if link diversity is truly a ranking factor, then pages with backlinks from a wider range of sites should outrank those with a more concentrated link profile.

And you know what they found?

Pages that ranked in the top 10 results had an average of 3.8x more unique referring domains than those in positions 2-10.

In other words, link diversity seems to be a major player in Google’s ranking algorithm. The more diverse your backlink profile, the better your chances of reaching the coveted first page.

Content is King (But Links are the Kingmaker)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But Brian, doesn’t Google always say that content is the most important ranking factor?”

Well, you’re absolutely right. Google has long emphasized the importance of creating high-quality, informative content. And the Backlinko study backs this up, finding a strong correlation between comprehensive, in-depth content and higher rankings.

However, the data also makes it clear that links are still the key to unlocking those top spots in the SERPs. Even the most well-crafted, masterfully-written content won’t get you very far without a strong backlink profile to support it.

As the old saying goes, “content is king, but links are the kingmaker.” And when it comes to link diversity, it seems that the more varied your backlinks, the more Google sees your site as a trustworthy, authoritative resource worthy of a prime spot on the first page.

Forget Shortcuts, Focus on Quality

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “If link diversity is so important, I should just go out and start building links from a ton of different sites, right?”

Not so fast, my friend. The Backlinko study also found that the quality of your links matters just as much (if not more) than the quantity.

You see, Google has gotten increasingly savvy at sniffing out spammy, low-quality link-building tactics. Things like mass article submissions, blog comment spam, and shady PBN links are all on the search giant’s radar. And if they catch wind of you trying to game the system, the consequences can be severe.

Instead of chasing shortcuts and quick fixes, the key is to focus on building a diverse backlink profile through legitimate, high-quality link earning. This might mean guest posting on industry-relevant blogs, getting featured in online publications, or leveraging your brand’s social media presence to attract natural links.

It’s a slower, more labor-intensive process, to be sure. But in the long run, it’s the surest path to sustainable, algorithm-proof SEO success.

The (Link) Diversity Dilemma

Of course, the Backlinko study isn’t the only piece of research that’s highlighted the importance of link diversity. US News & World Report’s college rankings methodology, for example, places a heavy emphasis on the diversity of a school’s incoming student body as a key metric.

The logic is the same: a diverse population is seen as a sign of prestige, quality, and overall “good-ness.” And it appears that Google’s algorithm applies a similar principle when it comes to backlinks.

But here’s the dilemma: how do you actually go about building a diverse link profile in a systematic, scalable way? After all, there’s only so much you can do to control the sources of your backlinks.

Sure, you can focus on outreach and relationship-building to attract links from a wide range of high-quality sites. But there’s always an element of unpredictability and randomness involved.

That’s why, at our SEO agency in Manchester, we’ve been experimenting with some novel link building strategies. Things like leveraging local partnerships, tapping into niche communities, and even exploring the potential of AI-powered content generation to attract diverse backlinks.

The goal is to find a repeatable, sustainable approach to link diversity that allows us to stay ahead of the curve and keep our clients ranking at the top of the SERPs.

The Future of Link Building

Of course, the world of SEO is always in flux, and there’s no telling what the future might hold. Maybe one day, Google will decide that link diversity isn’t as important as it once was.

But for now, the data is clear: if you want to rank at the top of Google, you need to focus on building a diverse, high-quality backlink profile. It’s not easy, and it’s not quick. But in the long run, it’s the surest path to sustainable SEO success.

So, what are you waiting for? Start reaching out to those industry blogs, local publications, and niche communities. The road to link diversity may be long, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

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