Well, I hear this question pretty often. And if I didn't have 16 years of experience in SEO, I would probably have gone crazy looking for an answer.
Based on my experience, for most niches and websites, it's enough to have 300-500 high-quality backlinks to a site to rank and receive a good amount of organic traffic from Google.
For local sites, where the competition is lower, 20-30 links may be sufficient.
However, not all links are equally useful for ranking a site.
In the article, I will demonstrate this with specific examples.
If you try to search for an answer about the number of necessary backlinks for ranking on forums (below, I took answers from the moz.com forum), you will find conflicting responses:
This user recommends a minimum of 50 links per page.
But why 50? And what constitutes a high-quality link?
Or take this response, where someone says that it depends on the quality of the content.
But what is high-quality content? If I create very high-quality content, might I need fewer backlinks?
Here, a user suggests to base it on Keyword Difficulty. If KD is 10, you might need 10 backlinks, but if it's 50, then 100 backlinks might be necessary for ranking.
Why do people give such contradictory answers? It’s due to a lack of experience. Also, it’s because they rely too much on SEO tools such as Ahrefs or Semrush.
What do we need to know?
Well, this is the number of backlinks to the domain and the required number of backlinks for the promotion of a specific page.
Let’s use an example from the Editorial.Link site and the search query "premium link building" to figure out how many backlinks are needed to rank a single page.
If you enter this query into Ahrefs' Keyword Explorer, you’ll find our article needs approximately 99 referring domains to rank in the top 10 on Google.
And if I were just starting my journey in SEO, seeing such a high Keyword Difficulty, I might have abandoned the idea of creating a page for this keyword.
But in reality, the Editorial.Link site ranks 2nd for the query "premium link building" with only 2 referring domains.
And the site in the first position has only one referring domain.
But why does Ahrefs report 99 referring domains?
The thing is, the estimation of the number of referring domains is based on the average number of referring domains among sites ranking in the top 10 for that query. Since the top 10 includes a page from the Backlinko site, which has more than 1000 referring domains, it significantly affects the estimation.
During our keyword research, we noticed that the search query "premium link building" only corresponds to 1 page in the top 10. Although other sites mention "premium link building" in their meta tags, they don't have separate pages that fully address “premium link building” query.
Thus, you might need 1-2 high-quality backlinks to compete with sites with high Domain Authority and a large number of referring domains, but only if these sites don't have relevant pages that precisely answer the search query.
When I talk about such a quantity of links, I mean quality links.
I would highlight 8 key characteristics of a quality backlink:
You might ask, why haven't I mentioned metrics like DA, DR, TF, and others?
Here's a specific example: I conducted a public demonstration of artificially boosting Ahrefs' DR to show that this metric is not reliable.
Let's consider a specific example.
Imagine you have a great article that satisfies user intent. The article is unique and has been recently written or published. Your task is to determine the number of links needed and create a link-building plan.
I would highlight 4 main factors that influence the required number of links for a specific page:
If you are reading this article and came across it through a search engine, it likely started ranking for the query "How many backlinks do I need to rank."
Before writing the article, I studied the current SERP and noticed that there is a page from searchlogistics.com in the 2nd position with only 6 referring domains.
But out of these 6 referring domains, only one can be considered good – juliangoldie.com. The site is thematically relevant, and the link is placed within the content, which looks organic.
LinkedIn page is at the top position for our query; let’s check its backlinks.
As you can see, only 3 out of 21 referring domains can be considered high-quality. They are not banned in Google and have non-zero traffic.
Thus, we might need anywhere from 1 to 3 links to rank a page for the query "how many backlinks do I need to rank” on a reputable site like this.
John Mueller says that the total number of links doesn't matter. One relevant link can be a strong signal for Google when evaluating a page.
In other words, if you focus on securing high-quality links for your site, you don't need hundreds or thousands of them. 1000 forum links, where anyone can register and drop a link, may not yield the same results as one powerful link from a site like HubSpot.com with a DR of 93.
Here’s an example of such a high-quality link:
Zapier.com, a site with DR 91, is linking to the site Editorial.Link. Moreover, this page has almost 2K organic traffic.
There are no specific restrictions here, as long as they are high-quality links. Anyway, securing high-quality links usually takes time.
If you manage to acquire 1000 truly high-quality links in just one month, perhaps due to global media coverage of your project, your site will likely grow very quickly.
🚨 By the way, here at, Editorial Link, we assist our clients in building very high-quality links from sites that don't sell links, such as Monday.com, HubSpot.com, G2.com.
Now, let's figure out the overall number of links needed for our site.. After all, the higher the Domain Authority, the fewer links we need to build for individual pages.
Let’s take scnsoft.com.
According to Ahrefs data, the site has 9384 referring domains. At first glance, this is a huge number, and it would be quite challenging to replicate it within a reasonable timeframe. While you're trying to mimic the link profile of competitors, they will not be standing still, acquiring even more referring domains.
However, there's no need to be afraid of such a large number of domains, as we are primarily interested in links from high-quality sites, which are the most difficult to obtain.
The longer a site operates, the more likely it is to receive links from automatically populated sites with zero search traffic.. These sites do not positively impact the site's ranking, so when calculating the total number of links needed for ranking, we can confidently exclude them.
In this case, we selected domains with zero traffic in Ahrefs and obtained 5384 domains! This is more than half of all donor domains for the site scnsoft.com.
If we choose high-quality sites (using the Ahrefs filter: Dofollow, DR from 40, Traffic 100+), we end up with only 1603 sites.
Well, 1603 domains is significantly fewer than the initial 9384 domains.
If we create a link-building plan for 2 years, we would need to build approximately 66 high-quality backlinks each month. This is achievable for 3-4 link builders or a link-building agency.