Link Velocity: Is It A Ranking Factor?
Gaining a lot of links quickly from other sites seems to be a positive for any website.
But could it be hurting your rankings instead of helping them?
Or does link speed not matter at all to Google? Is it, in fact, just a made-up term for search engine optimization?
Read on as we investigate the origins of link speed and whether this is something you should really care about in SEO.
Claim: Link speed as a ranking factor
Link speed refers to the theory that the speed at which a website gains links has the potential to influence rankings, either positively or negatively.
Link speed = good
Years ago, having a high link speed in a short period of time was seen by some as a good thing in the SEO industry, it can positively affect your Google rankings.
Link speed was mentioned in articles and during conference sessions – because in those days link building was more about quantity than quality.
Want to get a web page to rank quickly? Build a whole bunch of links for her quickly.
But the idea of quantity over quality changed after Google launched the Penguin algorithm.
Link speed = bad
The belief here is that getting links too fast can cause a website to be penalized or demoted in search results.
It is based on the idea that Google will interpret a rapid increase in inbound links as a sign that a website is trying to manipulate its search rankings.
Understandably, the idea of link speed can be unnerving for every person who is not unwittingly penalized for getting links.
The growth of the website’s cookie is largely outside its control.
If a site posts a large piece of content, for example, many other sites may link to it within a short period of time, gaining a number of links all at once.
If the link speed works as the SEO experts claim, then the website in the example above could be penalized because it got an influx of inbound links through no fault of its own.
Evidence: Correlation speed as a ranking factor
The origins of link speed in the SEO community can be traced back to the discovery of a Google patent that was filed in 2003.
patent, Retrieving information based on historical dataincludes ideas about how a search engine should interact with a website based on its cookie growth.
In particular, the idea of link velocity can be traced back to this passage:
“While a Spiky growth rate In the number of backlinks may be a factor used by the search engine 125 to score documents, and may also indicate try to spam Search Engine 125. Accordingly, in this case, Search Engine 125 may actually reduce the score of the document(s) to reduce the spam effect.”
Roger Monty of Search Engine Journal picked up on the SEO experts’ interpretation of this patent, noting how they ignore parts of the patent that disprove their own theory.
For example, the patent goes on to define what a “spiky growth rate” is and how it may be the hallmark of abnormal link building.
The patent is not about penalizing websites that experience a rapid increase in incoming links.
It is about demoting websites that display a pattern of unusual spikes in inbound links over long periods.
According to Monty:
“What the patent is really talking about is a smooth, normal growth rate versus a spiky, abnormal growth rate.
It can show a spiky growth rate over a period of months. This is a big difference from the idea of link speed which suggests that a large number of links gained in a short period will result in a penalty.”
The evidence does not add up to what experts claim about link speed.
Correlation speed as a ranking factor: our judgment
There is no evidence to suggest that Google uses a signal known as link speed that can negatively affect rankings.
Link speed is not a term officially recognized by Google.
When asked about this, Google Search representatives say that website links are evaluated on their own merits, not by the number of links earned and the length of time.
Here it is An example of such a response From John Mueller of Google:
“It’s not about how many links you get in any given period of time. It’s really…if those links are unnatural or in our view problematic, then it’s a problem. It’s like it doesn’t really matter how many or at what time.”
Google’s Gary Ellis put it more bluntly in a file Reddit AMAdescribing the speed of association with the term artificial.
Whether links are gained quickly or slowly, what really matters is the quality of the individual links and the way they were acquired (naturally or unnaturally).
Featured image: Paolo Bobita / Search Engine Journal