Google’s John Mueller Says Total Number of Backlinks Doesn’t Matter—Here’s What Does



the relevance of your backlinks matters more than the quantity of backlinks

Well, here’s one thing that brand marketers can take off their list of SEO-related worries: it turns out, according to Google, that the number of backlinks a site has truly doesn’t matter to the algorithm. 

What does? 

The relevance of each and every backlink. In this case, it’s an exceedingly clear-cut case of quality over quantity. 

But now that that cat is out of the bag, the question becomes: How do you generate high-quality, relevant backlinks? 

In this post, we’re going to look at 4 different ways we’ve used with our own clients to get those high-quality links. Let’s get started!

PR 👏🏻 PR 👏🏻  PR 👏🏻

B2B PR, or earned media, is one of the most effective ways to generate the kind of backlinks that Google’s algorithm loves, and that can help push your site higher up in the search results. 

This is because the backlinks you’ll get from an interview with your CEO, a feature in an online publication, or a column in a trade magazine will be both relevant and high-quality—as long as the website they’re coming from has high domain authority

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be focusing all your energy on Tier 1 publications (outlets like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Inc., and Harvard Business Review). 

Those are important to go after, of course, but a respected journal that covers a niche industry can also have high domain authority, even though it may only attract a fraction of the visitors one of the major outlets does.

Related read: 8 Signs Your PR Strategy Needs a Professional

Unique digital experiences

Creating a unique digital experience can not only increase your traffic and boost your customer loyalty, but it can also attract attention from media outlets, bloggers, and influencers—thereby generating backlinks. 

Here’s an example. 

One of our clients, Nouveau Eyewear, wanted to connect with customers more closely by offering them an experience that was fun, unique, and practical. We came up with the “Find Your Frame” Quiz to help users figure out what kind of eyeglasses frame best fit their personality. And their customers loved it: the quiz had a whopping 97% completion rate!

Quizzes, games, videos, interactive content—if you can create something enjoyable and informative, and get the word out using your owned media (your website and social channels), you can generate high-quality backlinks over time and boost your rankings. 

High-quality content marketing

Just as with a great digital experience, high-quality content will naturally generate solid backlinks because people will want to refer to it, share it with their followers, and include it in roundups or lists of curated content. 

Starting to see a pattern here? To get high-quality, relevant backlinks, you also need high-quality, relevant content. 

Examples include: 

  • Reports. It’s smart to make reports, whitepapers, and other in-depth educational content downloadable, so that you get the added benefit of collecting email addresses. In fact, the most-downloaded content is industry trend reports. Customers love keeping up with trends, so publishing these sorts of reports on an annual basis gives people something to look forward to—and you’ll become the “go-to” place for this new report each year.

One thing to note: if you’re going to gate content like this, make sure you have a landing page with a substantial amount of content already on it, so that there’s something users can get from you even if they decide not to download. This will make it much more likely that others link to your content. 

  • Webinars or slideshares. If you conducted a webinar or released a slideshare for your team or people who signed up, you can re-release the content to the public later on as a recording. This way, you get to reuse the content to bring in even more leads and customers. 
  • Live streams on Facebook or LinkedIn. Do a product demo, host an Ask Me Anything (AMA) with an executive, or have a question-and-answer session with one of your department heads. 
  • Blog posts. Last but not least, don’t overlook the importance of blog posts! These are a great way to share information, add to the number of pages on your site that Google can index (which can boost SEO, if you’re using keywords and meta tags well), and showcase your expertise in your industry. Plus, blog posts are easy for others to share and link back to—they can include an excerpt in their own writing, link to the entire thing, or just pull out a quote. 

Strategic, selective partnerships

The final way to increase your number of high-quality, relevant backlinks is to develop strategic, selective partnerships. 

What we mean by this is to seek out influencers, brands, and other potential partners that authentically mesh with your brand. That could mean sharing a similar purpose, supporting the same cause, making complementary products, or having complementary audiences. 

Here’s why that’s so important. If you’re in the workplace SaaS industry, getting a linkback from a Kardashian may seem like cause for celebration, and sure—maybe it gets your product in front of thousands more people. 

But how relevant is something about SaaS going to be to the people who follow celebrities and are interested in luxury consumer goods, fashion, and lifestyles of the rich and famous? They most likely won’t click on that link, and Google’s algorithm will know that it’s not truly relevant to your audience (plus, let’s be honest, getting a backlink from a Kardashian ain’t cheap, so you’re also out a significant portion of your budget). 

It’s easy to see why that scenario will fall flat. 

On the other hand, let’s consider a micro influencer who blogs almost entirely about workplace issues and workplace tech, and has a small but highly engaged following. A linkback from that person will mean far, far more to your ranking, as well as be more likely to help bring in new customers. 

Just like your B2B content marketing, backlinks are all about quality—not quantity. Want some help getting the kind of online attention that matters? Get in touch!


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