Google’s John Mueller recently answered the question “can you rank without link building”. I want to explain what this means and why it’s important.

What is link building? It’s an external hyperlink. That’s literally it. So if I were to suggest a blog on my own website here and link to it, it’s NOT link building. But if I link to something on someone else’s page, it IS link building, and it benefits them. The more sites link to yours, the better (in theory, there are a LOT of rules to this.) The more authority and better ranking of those sites, the better. Link Building is only a small slice of the SEO pie, but one that is heavily practiced. Many assume it’s necessary in order to build SEO, but Google has finally given us more.

Can You Rank Without Link Building?

“We use a ton of different factors when it comes to crawling, indexing, and ranking. So it’s really hard to say life if I did this, how would my site rank compared to when I do this. These kinds of comparisons are kind and futile in general.”

For me, this confirms what we’ve always known, that there are many efforts that are involved in SEO, and that they aren’t all measured the same. Nor would the same efforts across multiple sites yield the same results.

In practice though, when you’re building a website and you want to get it out there and you want to have people kind of go to the website and recognize what wonderful work that you’ve put in there, then promoting that appropriately definitely makes sense. And that’s something you don’t have to do that by dropping links in multiple places.”

In my opinion, he’s saying that it’s part of your ranking factor but it may not be as highly regarded as some may assume.

“But you can get the word out in different ways. And by getting the word out you’re kind of brining people to your website and if they like what they see then maybe they’ll link to your website. And all of these things can add up as signals and it can help us to better understand where your website fits in with the rest of the web.”

What this is telling me is that organic link building from credible sites is best. I’ve long suspected Google is looking for farming sites that exist to link build in bulk that is low quality. Quality over quantity.

So, can you rank without link building? Yes, you can but you may not rank as fast or as high. That’s not to say everyone ranking higher than you have more links or better links. Some probably do and some probably don’t. Link building really is just one piece of a large pie.

Why It Matters

Knowing that you don’t HAVE to make financial investments to build links is a positive for many small businesses. Over time you can do it through collaborative efforts, guest blogging, and from organic traffic. You can use tools like Medium as well. When I perform SEO audits on my site, I’m sometimes surprised at the places where organic traffic has resulted in links. So always be focused on fun content, educational topics, and ways to engage your audience.


Have any tips to share? Have you ranked will with, or without link building? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Let’s connect on Facebook where you can reach out at any time. As always, thanks for reading!