Our in-depth study used advanced statistical analysis to show that links to your site are even more powerfully correlated with ranking than most people think. See the complete study at stonet.co/link-study.
“RankBrain has taken over
all Google algorithms!”
In fact, links remain a very
important ranking factor.
Let’s dig into the data...
Google’s Andrey Lipattsev
Content and links going into
your site are the two most
important ranking factors.
Link correlations in Moz & SearchMetrics studies
bit.ly/moz-ranking & bit.ly/searchmetrics-rankfactors
Those are significant correlations but,
about the same as other highly-
correlated factors in those studies.
So why would Google say links are still
so high up in their ranking factors?
Two Key Factors:
Both studies evaluated each SERP individually,
then took the mean of all results.
Both studies also focused solely on
We took a different approach that statistics experts
told us was more valid (details at stonet.co/link-study)
We also tested more varied query types,
Commercial head terms
Commercial long tail terms
(In fact, 2/3 of our queries were informational)
We found a correlation of total links to a site as
higher than correlations of Moz DA or PA.
And, in fact, the correlation of total links
to as site was much higher by our methodology
than in the other two studies
We also normalized the links across SERP
positions in aggregation to counteract false
This “smoothing” process yields even higher
correlations for total links to a site.
And when we took the aggregate correlations
across blocks of 10 search results, the
Spearman Correlation jumped to perfect!
I believe that these aggregated calculations
show a far truer picture of the true power of
links than the mean-based methods of the
By the way, a manual analysis of several
hundred results revealed that the following
types of results are likely NOT
as influenced by links:
• Local results (not maps results, but results that
are locally influenced)
• Query deserves diversity
• In Depth Articles
These accounted for about 6% of the results.
But all this does not mean your content
quality is irrelevant. Far from it!
If your content is not relevant or competitive,
links won't help ranking.
If it is, links will make the difference.
Our own experience working with many
Fortune 500 clients bears out the value of
good backlinks to quality, relevant content.
We don’t find that links can rescue
poor quality content, or cause low relevance
content to rank.
Also, all of our efforts focus on getting
recognition from, or content published on,
very high authority sites.