Google’s John Mueller said that “the total number [of backlinks] essentially is completely irrelevant” to rankings in Google in a video hangout last week. I heard the statement and didn’t cover because it is SEO 101 but then I saw some of the responses on the internet about this line and decided it is worth repeating.
The question came up at the 27:08 mark into the video, it was “What matters the most the number of unique referral backlink domains or the total number of backlinks?”
John responded that the number of links is “completely irrelevant” and that Google weighs different links differently. He said one link can be way more valuable than thousands of links because Google can ignore links.
Here is what John said:
So I don’t think we differentiate like that in our systems. So from my point of view I would tend not to focus on kind of the the total number of links to your site or the the total number of domain links to your website. Because we look at links in very, in a very different way. And we try to understand what is relevant for a website, how how much should we weigh these individual links, and the total number doesn’t matter at all.
Because you can go off and create millions of links across millions of websites if you wanted to and we could just ignore them all. Or there could be one really good link from one website out there that is for us like really important sign that we should treat this website as something that is relevant because it has that one link. I don’t know maybe from like a big news site’s home page, for example.
So the total number essentially is completely irrelevant.
Search Engine Journal covered it and some of the responses to this was shocking to me. To be clear, SEJ covered it accurately, it is the response that was a bit shocking to me.
Keep counting your links, if that makes you happy! It’s good to have some source of pleasure nowadays. (It won’t make the ranking algorithms happy though.)
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) February 21, 2021
That is just one example.
I mean, quantity vs quality links has been a topic we discussed back almost 20 years ago! It was in Matt Cutts 1999 notes on PageRank.
Here is the video embed with the part John spoke about this:
So yea, to see someone argue about if the quantity of links matters with Google is a bit surprising to hear in 2021.
Forum discussion at Twitter.