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The answer is NO. You do not need backlinks to rank on Google. Google prefers quality content over backlinks. After all, Google is about serving the best information on the net. Ranking without backlinks is very possible.

As an SEO specialist, naturally I get invitations to fix problematic sites with a client’s goal to make their site/s rank. Once in a while, they require link building. Well, below you will see my case studies as to why website owners should not worry about link building and focus on content instead.

While backlinks help, you need not have backlinks to rank either. Backlinks are an affirmation of trust from other websites, a vote of confidence. Google sees backlinks as an added “kick” but will always prefer the quality of content over backlinks.

Yes, you can as long as you have quality content that brings you to the first page of Google. Once your content lands and stays on the first page, there is a good chance you can get traffic.

The graph below shows the average clicks for those on positions #1, 2, and so on. The study shows the entry on the first position in Google gets 42% of the clicks.

Google ranking and clicks on the first page
source: SEO4Anyone

The samples below will prove it. These are our own clients.

Take a look at these samples:

a, Case Study #1 Podiatrist in Adelaide – Plantar Warts Home Remedies

Ranking without backlinks case study 1

IT had no backlinks but had 3000 keywords indexed. Of that 3000 keywords, more than 200 are on the first page

first page positions zero backlinks

b. Case Study #2 Podiatrist in Adelaide – 9 Ingrown Toenail Remedies

Ranking without backlinks case study 2

Again, it had ZERO backlinks, but 2700 keywords indexed, and more than 240 keywords on the first page

first page positions zero backlinks

c. Case Study #3 – Pawnshop in Chicago

Ranking without backlinks case study 3

 This had no backlinks, but 2000 keywords indexed. 

They eventually got contextual backlinks though but acquired NATURALLY. How? 

Once they started ranking, they got discovered by other websites and because of the quality of the content, others started linking back. 

Look at the three samples above after a few months of ranking

naturally acquired contextual backlinks

19 contextual backlinks naturally acquired

naturally acquired contextual backlinks

33 contextual backlinks naturally acquired

naturally acquired contextual backlinks

89 contextual backlinks naturally acquired

Then once you acquire more backlinks naturally, you get a further boost both in ranking and in traffic.  So focus on quality content, not link building.

Google looks at backlinks as a further vote of confidence in your content. So to try to acquire them by buying, adding your link on a footer of another website, or other artificial means is not really the point of Google in terms of backlinks. Having a sudden surge of backlinks (link velocity) is suspicious to Google.

In fact, Quicksprout even recommended a schedule when it comes to pacing backlink acquisition.

Further, not all backlinks have the same weight in terms of Google’s eyes. Contextual backlinks are the most valuable, wherein the link back to your page was done within another website’s piece of content.

Putting links on the footer of another website is not going to help either as far as link building to rank is concerned. This is because, to Google, the essence of links is a recommendation from another website’s content.

Let us say you are a new site, and your competitor has hundreds or even thousands upon thousands of backlinks. To even attempt to be at par with their backlink count is a HUGE mistake! As I said, Google prefers a slow, natural build-up of backlinks.

Besides, without interesting and informative articles to link back to, how can you even have other websites link back to you?

The good news is that even as a new site, you CAN run after your competitors’ content and outrank them. Or perhaps, build content on those less competitive keywords, do a competitor’s analysis and see where they are missing out, and beat them to it!

As you start ranking, you become more authoritative to Google’s eyes, and then you can start getting more rankings, more natural backlinks.

Ranking without backlinks is possible – Google prefers great content. Focus on quality content – backlinks will follow once you start ranking.

The key is having a great content strategy based on your competitors’ analysis and keyword research.