Link Velocity 101: Myths, Facts, and Best Practices

Picture of Ajay Deep
Ajay Deep

Founder, Authority Ventures
Chief Strategist, White Label Links

link velocity

Link velocity is a critical but often misunderstood concept in SEO. It refers to the speed at which your website acquires backlinks, and finding the right balance is crucial. How fast should you be getting them? Too fast, and search engines may flag your site; too slow, and your SEO efforts may fall flat. Understanding and optimizing your link-building speed can shape your website’s authority and ranking ability effectively.

This guide will clear up confusion around link velocity and break down the myths surrounding it. We will dive into how to measure, interpret, and utilize it to enhance your SEO strategy without overstepping the boundaries that might draw penalties from search engines. 

Key Takeaways

  • Link velocity is not recognized by Google as an official ranking factor, and the quality of individual backlinks is given more importance than the speed of backlink acquisition.
  • Measuring the growth rate of backlinks involves analyzing the rate of backlinks gained, utilizing tools such as Ahrefs, SE Ranking, and Monitor Backlinks, and interpreting data aiming for consistent and organic growth without dramatic spikes.
  • High-quality, authoritative, and relevant backlinks are more beneficial for SEO than rapidly acquired indiscriminate backlinks.

Understanding Link Velocity in Modern SEO

At its core, link velocity refers to the rate at which a website gains backlinks over time, typically calculated as links or referring domains per month. A higher rate generally indicates that a website is popular and well-respected within its field. It’s a complex dance of numbers, a balance between gaining too many links too quickly or too few over an extended period. 

So the question is, does it matter? Absolutely, the rate at which links are acquired plays a crucial role in determining a website’s overall SEO performance. However, it’s important to note that link-building speed alone is not a direct Google ranking factor.  But, by analyzing the trends, one can better understand the website’s growth pattern and make informed decisions for future strategies.

The concept has its roots in a 2003 Google patent, which has historically influenced SEO strategies and remains a topic of discussion today. The SEO community is divided over its importance. Some argue that it is a significant ranking factor, while others contend that its impact on rankings is negligible. But is there more to this story than meets the eye?

The Origins of Link Velocity

Its origins can be traced back to a Google patent filed in 2003. This patent described the role of backlink growth rate in search ranking algorithms. Google uses link acquisition speed as a factor to determine the naturalness of backlink growth. The SEO community initially viewed a rapid increase in backlinks over a short period, or high link velocity, as beneficial. However, Google’s patent indicated that an unnatural, rapid accumulation of backlinks could be flagged and potentially result in lower search rankings as a measure to combat spam practices. In this context, a higher number might not always be a good thing.

This led to a paradigm shift in the SEO industry with the introduction of the Penguin algorithm, which aimed to reduce the impact of spammy link-building tactics.

Link Velocity Myths and Realities

Despite the historical significance of link velocity, it is not officially recognized by Google as a ranking factor, and its impact on rankings is a subject of debate among SEO experts. In fact, Google’s search representatives, including Gary Illyes and John Mueller, have expressed that a website’s backlinks are evaluated on their individual quality, not on how rapidly they are acquired.

This brings us to the question: If not link velocity, then what should we focus on?

Measuring Your Site’s Backlink Growth Rate

Before we go into that, we should understand how link velocity is measured. Indeed, improving something is impossible without measuring it first. We can use tools such as Site Explorer and SEMrush to access a site’s backlink profile. These tools provide graphs depicting the number of referring pages and domains over different timespans, indicating a site’s backlink acquisition rate. Consequently, link velocity is quantified by the monthly change in backlinks or referring domains, calculated by comparing links from month to month.

However, it does not end with just getting the numbers. Accurately interpreting this data is equally important.  

The next logical question that arises is, what aspects should you focus on while scrutinizing link velocity data and how to do it?

Tools and Techniques for Tracking Backlink Growth

When it comes to tracking backlink growth, several tools can come in handy. Some of these tools include:

  • Ahrefs’ Site Explorer: Designed to monitor new backlinks and referring domains, with the capability to analyze entire websites or individual pages.

Backlink profile using Ahrefs

  • SE Ranking: Helps monitor new backlinks and referring domains, with the capability to analyze entire websites or individual pages.
  • RankActive: An advanced tool that helps discover and monitor backlinks in real-time, offering information on beneficial links along with detailed link metrics and activity within the last 90 days.
  • OpenLinkProfiler: Another advanced tool that helps discover and monitor backlinks in real-time, offering information on beneficial links along with detailed link metrics and activity within the last 90 days.

These tools can be useful for tracking and analyzing backlink growth.

Some tools, such as Ahrefs and Monitor Backlinks, offer features to view historical trends and fluctuations in a website’s link profile, aiding in understanding backlink growth over time. This historical trend analysis is crucial for developing a strategy to create a natural backlink timeline, ensuring the growth of backlinks appears organic and is aligned with SEO best practices.

Interpreting Link Velocity Data

graph for link velocity data

Thus, what’s the best approach to deciphering link velocity data? The key is to look for consistent growth in backlinks without dramatic spikes. This approach aligns with maintaining a healthy SEO strategy and avoids the appearance of manipulation in the eyes of search algorithms. It’s vital to refer to a site’s historical link acquisition pattern, aiming to gradually increase the number of backlinks as opposed to drastic spikes, to maintain a natural profile. Excessive backlink acquisition can be flagged as suspicious by search engines, potentially leading to the perception that the links are spammy and damaging the website’s SEO strategy.

Therefore, monitoring the backlink profile is crucial to maintain a natural link velocity. Analyzing the growth and being wary of sharp, unnatural spikes helps to avoid being flagged as manipulative by search engines. But how do we ensure that we are acquiring backlinks of high quality?

The Importance of Quality Over Quantity in Link Acquisition

The solution is to prioritize the quality of backlinks rather than their quantity. Backlinks from authoritative sources are more valuable for SEO and can significantly improve a website’s visibility and credibility in search engine results. A study by Moz shows that high-authority domains can provide a 27% greater SEO boost than low-authority domains. The quality of the backlinks and the relevance of the linking pages are more important and beneficial for SEO than the rate at which the website gains random backlinks. Moreover, not all backlinks are created equal. Backlinks with nofollow, sponsored, or UGC attributes do not pass ranking strength and don’t contribute to SEO rankings, highlighting the importance of acquiring backlinks without these attributes.

Creating high-quality and linkable content should be at the core of a sustainable link-building strategy that naturally attracts backlinks. Using tools such as Site Explorer, website owners can assess their link velocity by examining the quality and relevance of backlinks, ensuring a strategy that relies on building quality over quantity. How, then, can you pinpoint sources of high-quality links? Also, what are some common traps of swift link building to steer clear of?

Identifying High-Quality Link Sources

Relevance and authority are the key attributes of a high-quality backlink, with links needing to be from reputable sources that are related to the content on your website. The quality of a backlink is also determined by factors such as descriptive anchor text, its placement within the main content of a page, and the overall context in which the link appears.

High-quality link sources are those that are highly relevant to your website’s niche and offer content that aligns well with the subject matter you present. Backlinks from high-quality sources can positively influence search engine rankings, serving as evidence to the overall efficacy of well-chosen backlink strategies.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls of Rapid Link Building

As with any technique, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about link building. Rapidly acquiring backlinks, especially from low-quality or irrelevant sources, can raise red flags for search engines and lead to penalties and a loss of trustworthiness. Therefore, a link-building strategy should aim for gradual link velocity, acquiring backlinks from relevant or niche-related websites to maintain the appearance of natural link expansion. Avoiding the use of overly optimized anchor text and engaging in practices like purchasing non-organic links, extensive reciprocal linking, and employing automated link-building software is essential to prevent penalties from Google.

Crafting a Sustainable Link-building Strategy

SEO link building methods

Crafting a sustainable link-building strategy is like planting a garden. You need to sow the seeds, nourish the plants, and continuously tend to them to reap the rewards. In other words, link building should be progressive and continuous to avoid triggering search engine penalties. Maintaining a steady and natural rate of backlink acquisition aligns with effective SEO strategies.

Link velocity should mirror a website’s growing authority and not be a rush for a high quantity of backlinks quickly. Here are some strategies to consider for building backlinks:

  • Building authentic relationships with bloggers and influencers can lead to natural link exchanges.
  • Engaging in continuous outreach efforts to promote content across various platforms can lead to natural backlink growth.
  • SEO agencies bring expertise and proven tactics to boost link velocity safely.

When recruiting a link-building agency, you should verify their proficiency in managing backlink acquisition rate in line with SEO best practices and industry norms. This can help in achieving optimal results for your website’s ranking and visibility.

Competitor Link Velocity Analysis

To get ahead in search results, you’ve got to see what your competition is up to. Want to know how fast your competitors are building backlinks? You can check their backlink profile with tools like Ahrefs Backlink Checker. This way, you can figure out a good pace for your own link-building so that you are not lagging behind. 

Also, by comparing one’s backlink profile with competitors, a business can identify strategic gaps in its SEO approach, uncover opportunities for improvement, and refine tactics to match the pace for link velocity. Evaluating the diversity of backlinks in a competitor’s portfolio and how this aligns with natural link growth trends is vital for ensuring the organic development of a website’s own backlink profile.

How to Get a Natural Backlink Timeline?

Here are some practical tips that you can adopt for a natural-looking backlink timeline. As discussed above, the graph for backlinks velocity should be consistent, with a gradual incline that seems organic and complies with SEO best practices. The acquisition of monthly links should be structured in a random pattern rather than a predictable one, which aligns with the unpredictable nature of organic backlink growth. Just like any other SEO practice, the approach should be for long-term success, focusing on sustainable growth instead of immediate results.

When considering how many links to aim for, here are the magic numbers:

  • Aim for a safe daily range of approximately 5-10 high-quality backlinks. Exceeding 10-15+ could lead to risks such as penalties or activating spam filters.
  • Variety in anchor text is crucial not only for maintainig a natural backlink profile but also for facilitating user navigation.
  • Match the context of the linked content to the anchor text.

By following these guidelines, you can achieve a consistent backlink velocity that improves your SEO without risking penalties or spam filters.

But when should you hit the pause button?

How Many Backlinks Are Enough?

While quality content can attract backlinks for a long time, you might be wondering how long to continue with the targeted efforts in this direction. This question often pops up in SEO discussions. The answer, however, is not straightforward. 

  • A well-established website typically has around 40-50 backlinks to its homepage, with individual pages varying from 0-100.
  • Most top-ranking pages get “followed” backlinks from new websites at a pace of +5% to 14.5% per month.

But it varies considerably depending upon your niche. Acquiring backlinks too quickly can be harmful to SEO efforts, as search engines might consider them unnatural. It’s like eating too much of your favourite food in one sitting. It might feel good at the moment, but it can lead to discomfort later on.

In the same way, acquiring a heap of backlinks in a brief period can result in Google flagging it as a manipulative technique.

Balancing Link Velocity with SEO Goals

So, how can equilibrium be achieved? By prioritizing relevant, high-quality links over rapid link velocity. Backlinks from popular and high-authority websites can contribute to increased domain authority and improve SEO, even though domain authority is not a direct ranking factor used by Google. Instead of focusing on the speed of link acquisition, align your process with long-term SEO strategy to build relevant and high-quality links.

High link attrition rates or ‘link churn’ can signal to search engines that a site’s content may not be valuable, thus impacting SEO performance.

Adjusting Link Velocity in Response to Search Algorithm Updates

Keep your ears to the ground, as search engine algorithms are constantly evolving. Search algorithm updates can significantly impact ideal link velocity, necessitating adaptations in link-building strategies. Google’s algorithm may flag a website with too many unnatural new links as attempting to manipulate search rankings.

As a result, website owners need to keep track of algorithm alterations and tweak their backlink acquisition rate to evade penalties associated with link manipulation.

Staying Ahead of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) Changes

Staying ahead of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) changes is like keeping your finger on the pulse of the SEO world. Keeping updated with SEO changes, particularly Google’s core updates, is vital as they can have a significant effect on search rankings. To effectively respond to SERPs changes, one strategy includes:

  • Constantly monitoring industry news for the latest updates
  • Following reputable SEO blogs and websites
  • Joining SEO communities and forums
  • Subscribing to newsletters and email updates from SEO experts and thought leaders

By staying informed and proactive, you can adapt your SEO strategies to the ever-changing SERPs landscape.

It is crucial to regularly analyze Google’s search engine results for keyword rankings to notice shifts that may indicate search engine updates. The best way to win at SEO is to be flexible. Create different kinds of content formats to stay relevant and keep getting backlinks naturally.

Stay Agile for Future Shifts in SEO Rankings

Change is indeed the only constant, particularly in the SEO landscape. Preparing for future shifts in SEO rankings involves understanding potential changes in how search engines process and value link velocity. Staying aware of industry trends can help predict shifts in the SEO climate, including:

  • The weight given to backlinks over time
  • The importance of user experience and engagement metrics
  • The impact of mobile optimization on search rankings
  • The rise of voice search and its implications for SEO strategies

By proactively adapting your link-building strategies, you can side-step any potential negative impacts from changes to search engine algorithms that are likely to arise.


Remember, quality trumps quantity every time. The focus should be on a holistic approach to link-building. Maintaining a natural link acquisition pattern is key to sustainable SEO success. Additionally, leveraging the expertise of reputable link-building agencies can provide valuable insights and proven tactics to enhance link velocity safely and effectively. Moving forward, the future of link-building lies in fostering genuine relationships with influencers, creating valuable content, and continuously monitoring and adjusting link velocity to meet the evolving demands of search engines and users.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a healthy backlink acquisition rate for a new website?

5 to 10 high-quality backlinks per day is considered a healthy backlink acquisition rate for a new website. Exceeding this range, such as acquiring more than 10-15 high-quality backlinks per day, could trigger red flags with search engines for unnatural link-building practices.

Are there specific industries or niches where link velocity is more critical for SEO success?

Industries that rely heavily on user intent-based searches, such as e-commerce or local services, may find backlink growth rate more critical as it can impact visibility for specific queries. Consistently acquiring relevant backlinks could help these websites rank better for intent-driven searches.

Can link velocity be affected by changes in anchor text optimization strategies?

If a website shifts from using overly optimized anchor text to another natural variation of anchor text, it may impact the way other websites link to it. This can lead to a shift in the types of backlinks acquired and the frequency at which they are obtained, ultimately affecting the website’s link velocity.

Do internal links play a role in overall link acquisition rates?

No, internal links are not a part of the backlink profile. Link velocity specifically refers to the rate at which a website gains external backlinks over time, typically calculated as links or referring domains per month.

Can sudden spikes in the number of backlinks ever be beneficial?

There are chances where sudden spikes in link velocity can occur organically. Content that goes viral can attract a surge of backlinks in a short period. If there is a specific PR campaign going on or targeted efforts for media coverage can result in a rapid increase in backlinks from various sources. Similarly, participation in industry events or conferences where the website is mentioned or linked can cause a sudden spike in backlinks.

Picture of Ajay Deep
Ajay Deep


I provide link building strategy and growth marketing services to businesses and enable them to conquer their markets with unmatched authority and impact.

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