If you're a blogger, your link profile is crucial to your success.
But how do you know how often to build links and how quickly you can do it without hurting your rankings?
Are you scared you'll hurt your SEO by building too many backlinks too quickly?
That's where link velocity comes in.
What is link velocity?
Link velocity is the rate at which others link to your site. In other words, it's the rate at which your backlink profile grows over time. Link velocity is an important factor for SEO.
Many people believe that they need to get higher link velocity, but it’s not true.
Instead of trying to achieve a high link velocity, building quality backlinks should be the main priority.
Nevertheless, link velocity is one of the SEO metrics that you should track.
Origins of link velocity
The roots of link velocity in SEO can be traced back to the discovery of a Google patent filed in 2003.
The patent, called Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data, includes concepts about how search engines should evaluate a website based on the development of its link profile.
Specifically, the notion of link velocity is derived from this excerpt:
“While a spiky rate of growth in the number of backlinks may be a factor used by search engine 125 to score documents, it may also signal an attempt to spam search engine. Accordingly, in this situation, search engine may actually lower the score of a document(s) to reduce the effect of spamming.”
It's important to note that just because Google filed a patent related to link velocity, it doesn't necessarily mean that link velocity is a concrete, established concept.
Who knows? Google’s search algorithm is a big black box.
However, it is logical for Google to monitor the rate at which your link profile grows to combat spam.
Don't worry about it too much, though.
But I'll give you some insightful pointers for you to consider.
What is the optimal link velocity?
The answer to this question is not straightforward.
Allow me to explain.
What if you launch a new website with no blog posts, but with tons of backlinks? Wouldn't that appear suspicious?
Google expects backlinks to come naturally with the content on your site. However, this isn't always possible.
Before getting more backlinks, Google expects high-quality content to be present.
Refer to the graphs to get to know what I mean.
If you suddenly get tons of backlinks in the first month, no backlinks in the second, about 10 backlinks in the third, and then finally, 12,000 backlinks in the fourth month, doesn't it seem a bit fishy?
Backlinks that are obtained naturally tend to build up over time, not all at once overnight (raising a big red flag) ⛳.
Here's a quick and easy way to build backlinks for your site: have backlinks proportional to the amount of content on your site. It’s that simple!
For instance, if you have 5 posts in the first month, aim for 5 backlinks (preferably to the homepage).
In the second month, if you have 12 posts, aim for 15 more backlinks, and then progressively increase the number of backlinks in proportion to the content on your site.
👉 Pro tip: If you are delivering high-quality content along with some visual-rich content like infographics, it helps you build backlinks naturally over time.
What about viral news content?
Viral content can be a real traffic and backlink magnet, but unfortunately only for a limited time. Sometimes, search terms like "Christmas Greetings" are seasonal or marked as viral keywords.
However, once the backlinks stop coming, Google considers the virality to be over, and the content's ranking drops. But hey, don't worry, this is totally normal.
This same thing happens with news websites too. If they are the first to cover a piece of news, their backlink profile will spike. This is true for all sites listed in Google News.
This is not the case for evergreen keywords, which are always relevant and attract interest over a longer period of time.
When to start link building for a new site?
When working on a new site, it's crucial to prioritize building high-quality content before building backlinks.
Once you've completed the content and basic on-page optimization, consider sending backlinks to the content a week later.
As a rule of thumb, start building backlinks only after having 7,000 – 10,000 words of content on your new website.
It is essential to ensure that the content you publish on your blog is of high quality, insightful, and better than similar content on the web. With this, even if you become aggressive in link building later, the high-quality content on your site will keep you safe.
Know your existing link velocity
In the past, you may have used black hat link-building strategies that negatively impacted your link velocity. To ensure that you maintain an ideal link velocity, you can use a tool called Ahrefs.
Ahrefs has the largest backlinks database and delivers the most backlinks of any tool. To learn more about this tool, read my Ahrefs review.
To get started, go to Ahrefs and enter your domain name. Below, you can see the backlink profile graph for Neil Patel's blog.
The number of referring domains has increased steadily over time. It’s a good sign.
Ahrefs has the biggest backlink index in the world.
The second best is the Majestic SEO tool.
You also can consider entering the domain URL in the Majestic search bar.
Akshay recommends: Top 7 Ahrefs Alternatives That Don’t Break Your Bank
What’s the ideal link velocity?
Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, you can save time by performing a "competitor link velocity" analysis. Basically, it helps to figure out the link velocity of your competitors.
Head over to Ahrefs and enter the URLs of any top-ranking sites in your niche. Then, observe how their link profile is growing over time compared to the content growth on their site.
Repeat this analysis for 4-5 sites in your niche.
To develop a solid link velocity plan for your business, start by analyzing the data you've gathered. Once you have all the information you need, plot the growth curve of links for each of the analyzed sites on a graph. This will help you better understand what your own ideal link velocity plan should look like.
Link velocity is definitely an important factor for SEO, but it's not the only thing that matters.
When it comes to link velocity, quality matters more than quantity. Instead of striving for a high link velocity, it's essential to focus on building high-quality backlinks that will benefit your website in the long run.
Also it’s crucial to prioritize creating top-notch content before building backlinks. Make sure your blog content is insightful, high-quality, and better than similar content out there on the web.
To keep your link velocity at an optimal level, you can use tools like Ahrefs or Majestic SEO to track how your backlink profile grows over time. Another helpful tactic is to perform a "competitor link velocity" analysis and figure out how quickly your SEO competitors are acquiring links.
Just remember that there's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to link velocity.