Study: 96% of sites in Google’s top 10 positions have 1,000+ links from unique domains

Can you rank in the top 10 of Google with very few links? Not according to a new analysis published today by Internet Marketing Ninjas. It found that:

  • Over 96% of websites ranking in the top 10 of Google had more than 1,000 backlinks from unique domains.
  • Only 0.3% had less than 100 backlinks.

Why we care. Google has been saying that links are no longer one of the top three ranking signals and needs “very few links to rank pages.” However, clearly, websites that rank well tend to have more backlinks. But it’s also true that webpages that rank well tend to attract a lot more backlinks – because they rank so well.

The results. Here’s a table showing the overall findings:

Links Referring Domains

Some other interesting findings from the backlink analysis:

  • Amazon ranked in the top 10 for 164 of the 200 keywords; the next closest brand was Walmart (57).
  • The “weakest” site had 54 referring domains and ranked in Position 6.
  • An average of 164 unique domain backlinks appeared to be the “minimum required to rank in the top 10” for local search terms, for the lowest 10 sites

But. As the study notes, not all links have equal value. Variables that could influence the value of a link include the authoritativeness of the linking site, anchor text and whether people actually click on the links.

About the data. The results are based on an analysis of the top 10 Google Search results, consistenting of 1,113 unique websites, for 200 random commercial intent keyword phrases.

The study. You can read it here: Backlinks Google Study

Dig deeper. Search Engine Land contributor and SMX speaker Eric Enge has done multiple studies in past years showing that links have value:


New on Search Engine Land

About the author

Danny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo – SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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