Google’s John Mueller says the total number of backlinks a website has doesn’t matter at all to the search algorithm.
One good link from a relevant website can be more impactful than millions of low quality links.
This is stated by Mueller during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on February 19.
A site owner submits the following question to Mueller: “What matters most? The number of unique referring backlink domains or the total number of backlinks?”
At times known for his vague answers, Mueller couldn’t be more clear in explaining how little either of those factors matter to Google.
Read his full response in the section below.
Google’s John Mueller on Backlinks
Mueller advises site owners not to focus on the total number of links pointing to their site, or the total number of unique referring domains.
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Google doesn’t assess links that way, he explains:
“I don’t think we differentiate like that in our systems. From my point of view, I would tend not to focus on the total number of links to your site, or the total number of domain links to your website, because we look at links in a very different way.”
What matters to Google when it comes to links is how relevant each one is to the website it’s pointing toward.
That’s how Google determines how much to weigh individual links. The total number “doesn’t matter at all.”
In theory a site could build millions of links across millions of domains, and Google could end up ignoring them.
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“We try to understand what is relevant for a website, how much should we weigh these individual links, and the total number of links doesn’t matter at all. Because you could go off and create millions of links across millions of websites if you wanted to, and we could just ignore them all.”
Mueller says a single link from a relevant source can send a stronger signal to Google about how it should treat that page.
He gives a hypothetical example of a page getting linked to from a major news site. Google would see it as an important page even if that’s one of the only links it has.
“Or there could be one really good link from one website out there that is, for us, a 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.”
Quality over quantity is what matters to Google.
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below: