Can you rank on Google without backlinks? The answer is yes.
But it comes with quite a few caveats.
So today, we're going to study some pageswithout backlinks that are getting a ton of search traffic and extract some actionableinsights you can apply to your SEO.
[music] What's up SEOs? There's no denying that backlinks help yourank higher in Google.
Google says it on their “How search works” page.
Our research study confirms a clear positive correlation.
And if you ask any experienced SEO, they'll agree.
But do you actually need them to get a meaningfulamount of search traffic from queries that have some sort of commercial value? Now, rather than continuing with my mysteriouscomments, we're going to let the data do the talking.
So to source my data, I used Ahrefs' ContentExplorer, which is a searchable database of over a billion pages that are filterable bymultiple SEO metrics.
So to start, I ran a blank search to filter throughall pages in the Content Explorer database.
Then I set a few filters.
First, I set the maximum number of referringdomains to 0.
And referring domains are unique websitesthat link to the page.
Next, I set a filter to only show live pages.
Finally, I set a Traffic filter to only show pagesthat get at least 1, 000 monthly search visits, since I think most people will agree thatit's a decent amount for a single page.
And I'll actually set the trends filter to show thepast three years of data in the sparkline graphs, so we can get a better visualizationof the pages' traffic trends.
Alright, so at this point, Content Exploreris saying there are around 243, 000 live pages that get at least 1, 000 monthly search visitswith zero backlinks pointing at them.
There are way too many results here, so let'sgroup these into 3 tiers based on Domain Rating.
And Domain Rating is an Ahrefs' metric thatrepresents the overall strength of a website's backlink profile.
The closer the number is to 100, the moreso-called “authority” the domain has.
Now, the three tiers that I've set areDR 0 – 30, DR 31-60, and DR 61 plus.
Alright, so tier 1 are DR 0-30 websites, whichwe'll classify as “low authority.
” If you look at the results, you'll noticethat the majority of pages are not in English.
Given that the majority of websites have Englishcontent, this might seem odd.
Now, the reason this happens is because non-English queries are generally less competitive, so they're easier to rank for without links.
For example, Arabic only makes up around 0.
8%of content on the Internet, meaning less competitors and an easier-ranking environment.
So takeaway #1 is that in general, contentin languages other than English are going to be easier to rank and get organic traffic, even if you don't have any or many backlinks.
Now, since I'm not fluent in Arabic, let's set the language filter to English for the rest of this tutorial.
Ok, so if you look at the majority of topicsthat are getting search traffic, there are four things you'll notice.
If you're targeting a country with English as itsofficial language like the US, Canada, UK, or Australia, you'll find that a lot of pages in this tier are gettingthe majority of traffic from other countries.
For example, this page gets most of its trafficfrom Pakistan and India.
You'll see a wide array of content that'snot safe for work.
A lot of these pages are ranking for topicsthat aren't exactly legal.
For example, this is supposed to be a paid game.
You'll be hard pressed to findpages with good commercial value.
For example, this page is on a celebrity'shusband's net worth, which probably won't impact your bottom line.
But there are also some rare pages that mayhave commercial value depending on your business.
For example, this page ranks for queries relatedto a legal topic.
It gets over 2, 300 monthly search visits andthe website looks like it's run by a law firm, which makes a lot of sense.
All-in-all, finding actionable insights fromthis tier will be slim pickings.
Now, keep in mind that I'm doing a search throughour entire database.
So even if you were to search for a broad keywordlike “gardening, ” you'd only see four results, one which might be worth pursuing.
So let's move on to mid-tier websites thathave a DR value of 31 – 60.
Now, within this group of pages, you'll see moreor less the same downsides as the previous tier, but to a lesser extent.
The main differentiating factor is that you'll start seeingpages that are ranking for low-competition topics that have some commercial value.
For example, this page is ranking for the query”best bluetooth headphones for under $50, ” which has a Keyword Difficulty score of just 8.
This page ranks for something in the higher educationspace which has a lot of commercial value.
This page is capitalizing on queries thatare valuable to lawyers on the topic of divorce.
And you'll also find the occasional high-trafficopportunities like this one, which gets over 12, 000 monthly search visits with zero links.
So here are a few key takeaways for the DR 31-60 range.
Pages with zero links on mid-DR sites seemto rank more easily for low-competition topics with commercial value.
They're also capitalizing on long-tail queriesthat have decently high search demand.
And we went through the example of “best bluetoothheadphones for under $50.
” Now, the most interesting example to me isthe page ranking for divorce-related queries.
If you caught it, the majority of the trafficto that page comes from the UK.
And it's likely because of relevance, locationof the company, and perhaps the cTLD .
It's important to remember there are tonsof other countries outside of the US where it's easier to compete.
So, while the traffic share might be lowerin non-US countries, most topics will still have more than enough search demandand commercial value to bank.
So in my opinion, if you don't have the resourcesof Fortune 500's or the expertise of top agencies, it might be worth researching other countrieswhere entering a competitive market will be easier.
Alright, let's go through the last tier and thoseare sites with a Domain Rating of 61 or higher.
And the types of pages in this tier are prettymuch the same as the DR 31 to 60 sites, but the higher DR sites are ranking for morecompetitive queries without links.
For example, this page ranks high for “cheap cigars, “which has a keyword difficulty score of 45.
And then you'll see sites like Credit Karmaranking for even more competitive keywords related to credit card debt without a single backlink.
Bottomline, when you have a topically authoritativesite, you have the potential to rank for some pretty competitive keywords even if you don'thave a ton of links.
But even a super focused and authoritativesite like Credit Karma is only ranking at the bottom of page 1 for their top query.
And if you look at the top 10 results forthis keyword, all of the pages ranking higher are also authoritative, topically relevant, butthe key difference here is that they all have links.
So while targeting low-competition topicsis a great way to start a site and gain traction, the reality is, you'll run out of worthwhiletopics to target fast.
And if other sites start targeting those sametopics, eventually, they won't be so low-competition and you'll need links to keep-up.
Most importantly, if you want to build a sustainableand growing business, you'll definitely want to go after more competitive topics because competitionusually equates to commercial value.
So what's it going to be? Are you only going to go after low-competitiontopics to earn a tiny piece of the pie? Or are you building links to go for the wholedarn thing? Let me know in the comments and if you enjoyedthis video, make sure to like share and subscribe, and I highly recommend checking out our linkbuilding playlist.
Tons of step-by-step actionable tutorials there.
So keep grinding away and I'll see you inthe next tutorial.