Do you need links to rank a website on Google?

This week I read a post on LinkedIn that stated that is impossible to rank a website on Google without links.

The idea was that it is an SEO myth that you can rank a site without links.

I call bullshit.

We have ranked 1000s of sites with no links over the years.

If anything, it is easier now than ever before to rank a website without links – in the right situation.

Sure, these are predominantly small, local businesses that serve a local area.

In many situations, you will still need links to

But, but, but… national rankings


I popped a summarised version of this post on LinkedIn and whilst the majority agreed, and understood the point I was making, a small number claimed that

  • I did not understand the difference between local and organic
  • it is impossible to rank a site without links
  • links are still important

It is interesting, as I never claimed anything else here.

A simple example

We have very recently worked with a new business providing Van Hire.

Brand new.

A new website that was built with a free website builder from the hosting company.

Not an ideal SEO canvas.

Established local competition from small companies and big brands.

3 months

1st for “van hire <location>

1st in the local pack & in the organic listings below

Localised organic of course.

Great rankings that are driving business without any links

Historic, new, or otherwise.

Just Local SEO best practices.

Do you need links to rank?

The answer here is that it depends.

I hate that answer.

Everyone in SEO hates that answer.

I am sure that customers hate that answer.

It grinds my gears and it boils my piss to have to use that answer.

But unfortunately, it is the right answer.

To know whether you need links to rank you have to do the research.

What do you want to rank for?

What does the competition look like?

What kind of links have you got at the moment?

What kind of links have the competitors got?

Who are the competitors?

What kind of resources have you got?

There are a lot of moving parts.

For this small business, it was relatively easy. There were local competitors but they were not doing the basics well. Simple – do the basics well, measure the results, and let’s see where we are.

For many others, they may need links, authority etc.

It depends.

The point I am trying to make here is this:

Don’t work in absolutes.

Don’t believe the SEO dogma.

Don’t believe the myths or naysayers.

Do the work to figure out what the right approach is for your situation and build a strategy from there.

Get real specific

Get real specific with the question you are asking.

Do I need links to rank this page for this keyword?

But also, think is there anything else we can do first?

Is this content the absolute best it can be?

Do we deserve to rank 1st? (I like this one – it’s spicy)

For many situations, links may still be a factor – but don’t assume that is the case.

Do the research, form your hypothesis, test your results and go from there.


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