Backlinks and Content Quality Correlate With Higher Google Rankings, New Study by Backlinko Finds

The #1 result in Google has 3.8x more backlinks than positions #2-10, according to analysis of 11.8 million Google search results.

Pages with a lots of backlinks tend to perform better in Google search.

Authoritative domains that publish thorough content tend to rank higher in Google’s organic search results, according to a new industry study by Backlinko.

The analysis, which used data provided by SEO software company Ahrefs, also found no correlation between site loading speed and rankings.

The dataset included 11.8M web pages, making it one of the largest search engine ranking factors study to date.

This joint Backlinko and Ahrefs analysis also investigated a number of other potential Google ranking factors.

Impact of title tags: The study found that between 65% and 85% of pages that rank in Google’s top 10 results tend to use a keyword in their title tag. However, while title tags are critical for getting on Google’s first page, this analysis found that keyword-rich title tags won’t help a page climb the first page rankings once they get there.

Impact of website loading speed: The analysis discovered that, despite page speed being a confirmed Google ranking factor, fast-loading websites don’t appear to have any ranking advantage over websites that load slowly. The authors of the study conclude that site speed may be a minor ranking signal that doesn’t translate into actual ranking improvements.

Impact of word count: This research found that the first page of Google is predominantly made up of long-form content. The average word count of a first-page result in Google was found to be 1,447 words.

Impact of backlinks: Both total backlinks and number of referring domains correlated with higher first page rankings.

Impact of a page’s link authority: The authors of the study found a weak correlation between a specific page’s link authority (as measured using Ahrefs URL Rating) and higher first page Google rankings. URL Rating was found to be significantly less important than a domain’s link authority as a whole.

Impact of schema: Use of Schema markup was found to have no correlation with rankings.

Impact of time on site: Websites with a high time on site tend to outrank websites with a low time on site. Improving time on site by 3 seconds correlates to ranking one spot higher on Google’s first page.

Complete Study Results:

For questions about the study or a comment on the findings, contact Brian Dean at

The Backlinko blog, which has over 3 million monthly readers, is a highly-respected resource for marketing professionals. Backlinko has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Fast Company and more.

Ahrefs is an industry-leading SEO software suite, with customers that include Adobe, LinkedIn, Netflix and Shopify.

Source: Backlinko