I’ve spoken with many site owners over my 13 year SEO career and one of the most common questions I get asked is “how many links should I build each month?” This is if they plan on handling their own link building execution. If the site owner is looking to outsource their link building campaign the question varies to “how many links should I expect to see in your monthly reports?” While I wish I could give site owners an exact number (25 if your site is this big, 50 if your site is this big, 250 if your site is this big…and so forth) the answer is, like many things is SEO, is that there is no right answer!
Why would you want to limit your natural link building success?
Let’s say you right a blog post that goes “viral.” Keep in mind that this doesn’t automatically mean it gets million of social shares overnight, but that it gets a lot more attention than your content normally does. For instance, your typical blog post might get 150 views, 10 retweets and 3 Facebook Likes. On this particular day, your blog post got 1,000 views, 52 retweets (and counting!) and 16 Facebook Likes. It may not be the most watched YouTube video ever, but it’s a big jump for you!
Are you going to ask bloggers, readers and other sites to stop sharing your content because you’ve reached your maximum link quota for the month? Of course not! The whole point of content marketing and social media marketing is to get your content shared amongst your audience, isn’t it? Why would you tell people to stop doing that? Every time someone shares your post on a social site it creates a social signal, which influences rank in the SERPs. The more social shares the more valuable your content becomes in the eyes of the search engines. Why would try to slow down your natural link building?!
Although the search engines like to see a slow, diversified approach to link building, the algorithm does a pretty good job of recognizing natural link building when it happens. Unless you’re the one pushing your content through on a bunch of fake or bot social profiles, the more times your content gets shared the better it is for your SEO!
You have to roll with the punches.
Just like a blog post can go viral, maybe one of your online press releases gets picked up by a national news source. What was meant to be a short and sweet press release with a few links turns into a huge link source on dozens of quality sites! Conversely, maybe your PR doesn’t get noticed and what you expected to be a source of links does “just okay.” There is no real way to control how much attention your PR (or any other form of content gets) so setting a maximum or minimum link count is silly. A white hat link building strategy is going to help ensure that your link building doesn’t get completely pushed to the back burner during a busy month, but some months are indeed going to be busier than others, which might impact the amount of links you create! Saying you have to get X links or no more than Y links puts undo pressure on yourself and your link building campaign. There are a lot of things that can pop up that force your daily calendar to shift and it is okay if your link building activities move with it!
Limits sometimes lead to corner cutting.
When you put a minimum count for monthly link building in place, sometimes that leaves no choice but to go for more grey hat or even black hat link building options. Let’s say you tell your employee executing the link building strategy they have to get at least 10 directory links a month. After a while, they are going to run out of quality directories to submit your website too. But as long as that minimum count is being enforced they have to come up with something. This might force their hand and leave them no choice but to pay for low-quality, spammy directories (some of which have been de-indexed by Google) that could actually hurt your link profile down the road. While you want to make sure you are building links each month to keep your SEO heading in the right direction, a minimum link requirement sometimes leaves your employees between a rock and a hard place. In my opinion, it’s better to hold out for good links than get low-quality ones “because.”
As frustrating as it may be, there is no right or wrong number of links a site should create each month. The most important thing to remember is that it isn’t how many links you build, but the quality of each individual link that makes the real difference.