Buildings links was once the staple of ranking in search engines but for the past few years, Google has been advising marketers to stop focusing on this area. However, that’s not to say that having external links to your site aren’t important in how Googles algorithms work when ranking.
To understand the importance of links we must first look at the relationship between external links to your site and how Google ranks them. When looking at the data correlating the two, there are several conclusions to be drawn. Firstly, despite what Google may have you believe when searching for anything competitive, external links will always be present in some capacity. It is very rare that you can find a site in a competitive search market that doesn’t have some form of links. In relation to this, statistics also provide evidence that there is a distinct correlation between the number of external links derived from unique websites and the increase in ranking.
Another interesting find has been that despite people thinking that every individual page on their site needs external links, it is, in fact, possible for them to rank without these links. Provided that your website itself has external links to your homepage, all your other pages will also rank. The use of external links for your pages will however only aid in your ranking and often the internal links whilst not as strong will help in this process.
With this correlation between external links and ranking in mind we move to the main question of ‘When can you rank without external links?’. In the majority of cases, it is almost impossible to find any websites that rank competitively without any links but there are rarities. Most websites will naturally be trying to rank using competitive keywords making them much harder to rank. However, in cases where less competitive and usually more specific phrases are being used, websites are more likely to rank. With them having such minimal competition it usually means that there will be next to no traffic for them. The only cases where ranking will be possible is from customers searching directly for your website URL or if you provide a service/product that is incredibly unique to your area.
Undeniably link building can be a great tool when improving your website ranking but as with any SEO tactic, you should proceed with caution. Whilst years ago, to gain higher ranking in search engines people would spam external links it is now much harder to do. Since implementing its Google Penguin algorithm in 2012, Google has crackdown on bad link building, penalising sites for it, forcing them to adhere to strict guidelines. Many links now don’t provide any help in ranking and in some cases can hurt a website ranking. Ultimately, without any links you will find it near impossible for your website to rank, so, if you’re thinking about link building you may want to read up on Googles updated guidelines to ensure that your links are safe and beneficial to your site.