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No Link Building Required: 5 Ways to Rank Without Backlinks

  • Erik Emanuelli
  • 10 min read
No Link Building Required: 5 Ways to Rank Without Backlinks


It's no secret that link building is one of the most important aspects of SEO.

However, what if you don't have the time or resources to do link-building?

Are you out of luck? Not necessarily!

This guide will discuss five ways to increase your SEO without building any backlinks. These strategies are effective and can help you rank higher in search engine results pages.

So, let's get started!

Backlinks are links that point to your pages from other websites.

They are basically the currency of the internet.

Search engines use links as a sign of trust, which helps them decide what content to rank in the SERPs.

Quality links have always been an essential ranking factor for Google.

In fact, backlinks are today one of the top three ranking elements, alongside content and RankBrain.

But back then, links were one of Google's only methods to determine a website's quality.

So, what has changed?

Google has become more sophisticated over the years.

It now pays attention to many more elements, such as how users interact with your site and its content.

What does this mean for you?

It means that there are other things you should focus on, other than just backlinks.

Let me explain.

In a Webmaster Hangout, Google’s John Mueller answered some important SEO questions, but one of his essential statements was:

“Links are really important for us to find content initially. So it’s like if nobody links to your website ever then we’re going to have a hard time recognizing that it even exists.”

Basically, Mueller asserted that the quality of content is more important than links. And once it has been found, links are not critical anymore.

"But once we found it and started crawling it and started indexing its content and seeing that it's pretty good stuff then those links are generally not that critical anymore."

That is, if your content has already been recognized by Google, links alone won't make it rank higher.

To conclude, backlinks are still an important part of SEO and should be taken into account when creating your content.

However, you must focus on the quality of your content first and make sure it is engaging and relevant to the topic.

This will ensure that your content gets found, as well as its chances of ranking higher and driving more organic traffic to your website.

So, is SEO without link-building possible?

The short answer is yes.

It has become increasingly frequent in the past few years, especially in specific areas.

In an interview in November 2022, Google's John Mueller said that someday links will be not as important as today in the Google Search ranking algorithm.

Links may be less important to the Google Search ranking algorithm in the future

Think about that for a minute.

SEO has evolved over the years and now there are many other factors that search engines consider when ranking content.

These factors include but are not limited to, on-page SEO elements, internal link structure, keyword research, organic CTRs, and UX signals.

So, although links are important for SEO and should not be neglected, there are other strategies that you can use to rank higher in SERPs without link building.

These SEO techniques are all about optimizing your content and website so that it can be found by search engines, even without links.

Let's see them in detail.

1. Topical Authority

This SEO strategy involves creating content that is focused on a specific topic and is full of relevant keywords.

When done correctly, this technique can help you rank better in SERPs without any link-building.

To do this, you need to create content that is of high quality and covers all topics related to the subject you are targeting.

This includes researching and mentioning current trends, industry-related news stories, and any other related topics.

The key is to make sure your content is comprehensive, SEO-friendly, and shares relevant information.

This way, search engines will consider your website an authority on the subject and rank it higher.

But wait, there’s more.

If the content on your website is relevant for longer periods of time than those of your competitors, you will have a significant advantage.

For example, if you create an article about SEO trends in 2018, it won't probably be relevant in 2022.

However, if you create SEO-focused content that will remain relevant and up-to-date for many years to come, you could potentially rank in the first pages of search engine results.

Ranktracker SEO Blog

So, how can you find sub-topics around the main subject?

There are different ways.

You can use Google-related search queries.

Just type your keyword into the search box and then look at the suggestions appearing on the page (in the "People Also Ask" box, and at the end of the SERP, in the "Related Searches" section).

People also ask - rich snippet

These are topics that your competitors have already written about. So, you can use them as a starting point to create even better content.

You can also use keyword research tools to help you generate ideas and find relevant topics.

Think of the Google Keyword Research tool, SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Ubersuggest.

You can use these to identify potential topics around your main keyword and create content that is semantically relevant.

2. On-Page SEO

Apart from content quality and topical authority, on-page SEO is also essential if you want to rank better in search engine results, without link-building techniques.

This includes things like optimizing your titles, meta descriptions, URLs, images, and other elements on each page of your website.

Make sure that everything is SEO-friendly and relevant to the keyword you are targeting. Also, use URLs and meta descriptions that include the keyword you are targeting.

In case you might be asking yourself,

these are the most important elements that will help search engines understand what your page is about and improve your SEO rankings:

  • High-Quality Page Content
  • Page Titles
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Site Speed
  • Images SEO
  • Page URLs
  • Mobile Responsiveness

High-Quality Page Content

High-quality content is essential for SEO.

Your content should be comprehensive, well-researched, and SEO-friendly.

This means that it should be written in a way that makes sense to both readers and search engines.

It should also include relevant keywords throughout the text (not just the headline).

That way, with time, your website could be considered an authority on the topic and will rank better in SERPs.

Finally, make sure your content is easy to read and understand.

Using short paragraphs, headings, subheadings, and bullet points can help you communicate your message clearly and effectively.

Page Titles

The title tag is one of the most important elements. It tells search engines what your page is about and appears as a clickable link in SERPs. That’s why it should be SEO-friendly and keyword-rich.

Make sure to include your target keyword at the beginning of the title tag, and keep it under 55 characters.

Meta Descriptions

The meta description is another element that tells search engines what your page is about.

It is the text below the clickable link in search results and should be SEO-friendly, keyword-rich, and around 155 characters long.

Remember that it’s also important to use different titles and meta descriptions for each page.

Site Speed

Site Speed

Site speed is another SEO factor that should not be overlooked.

If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, visitors will leave, and search engines will probably bump down your results.

So, make sure to optimize your website’s speed by compressing images, minifying HTML and CSS, and reducing redirects.

Images SEO

Search engines can’t “see” images, but they understand them if you optimize them properly.

It means adding SEO-friendly file names and alt tags that include the keyword you are targeting.

This also includes optimizing any other media you have on your websites, such as videos and infographics.

Page URLs

Make sure to include your target keyword on your page URL, and keep it SEO-friendly by removing special characters and unnecessary words.

Also, try to make them short (under 100 characters) so they are easy to read and remember.

Mobile Responsiveness

According to Google, if a mobile site takes more than 3 seconds to load, 53% of people will leave it.

Mobile Responsiveness

That’s why having a mobile-friendly website is essential, nowadays.

So, make sure to use responsive design, optimize images and videos, and reduce redirects so your website loads quickly on all devices.

3. Internal Linking

Internal linking can also be a great SEO tool.

It’s when you link one page of your website to another to help search engines understand the structure and content of your site better.

By adding internal links, you can guide visitors to related pages or topics that they may be interested in, which helps keep them on your site longer. This can also help improve rankings by increasing user engagement and reducing bounce rates.

When adding internal links, make sure to follow these best practices:

  • Use Relevant, Keyword-rich Anchor Text
  • Apply the Dofollow Tag
  • Link Back to New Posts in Old Articles
  • Fix Broken Internal Links

Use Relevant, Keyword-rich Anchor Text

The first thing to keep in mind when adding internal links is to use relevant, keyword-rich anchor text. This means using the specific terms in your link’s anchor text that describe what the page you’re linking to is about.

By doing this, not only can you make it easier for search engines and visitors to understand what the linked page is about, but you can also signal to search engines the relevance of that page by including those words in your anchor text.

Apply the Dofollow Tag

When adding internal links, make sure to apply the dofollow tag. This is an HTML attribute that tells search engine crawlers to follow a link and crawl its destination. Without this tag, search engine crawlers can ignore your links, resulting in less link juice (aka SEO benefits) for your pages.

Apply the Dofollow Tag

Linking back to new posts from old articles is a great way to keep content fresh and relevant.

By doing this, you’re giving search engines more updated content to index as well as providing visitors with more related information that they may be interested in.

It might be time-consuming, but it will be worth it for your website’s SEO in the long run.

Lastly, make sure to regularly check for any broken internal links on your website.

Broken links can be a major problem for SEO, as they can lead to dead ends and decrease user engagement.

To ensure this isn’t a problem for you, make sure to check for and fix any broken internal links that you find. This will help keep users more time on your website.

4. Organic CTR

Organic click-through rate (CTR) optimization is another SEO strategy that doesn’t involve link building.

By optimizing your organic CTR, you can increase the number of visitors to your website from search engine results pages (SERPs). This is done by creating titles and meta descriptions that are optimized for search engines and users.

To increase organic CTR, make sure to use keywords in both of them. Also, make sure to keep titles and meta descriptions brief yet descriptive so users can easily understand what the page is about.

Another best practice is to include power words, such as “amazing”, “free”, and “save”, to catch users’ attention.

One more thing to remember is to analyze search intent, before creating content and writing titles and meta descriptions. This means understanding what users are looking for when they search for specific keywords.

There is two main user intent:

  • Informational intent
  • Transactional intent

Informational intent is when users are looking for information or content related to their search query, while transactional intent is when they are looking to purchase a product or service.

For example, if someone searches for “SEO agencies in my area”, it’s likely because they are looking to purchase SEO services. In this case, you should focus on creating titles and meta descriptions that are optimized for transactional intent.

One last powerful way to catch users' attention in the SERPs is by getting rich snippets.

Rich snippets are special SEO features that are displayed in search results and can include ratings, prices, addresses, recipes, and more. To achieve this, you should add structured data to your content, which will help search engines better understand the purpose of your content.

Test your structured data

5. UX Signals

A better user experience means better SEO rankings.

UX signals are user behavior signals that search engines take into account when determining SEO rankings and include things like:

  • Bounce rate
  • Dwell time
  • Pages per visit
  • Return visits

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page, without clicking on any link.

Ideally, you want your bounce rate to be low because it means users are engaging with your content and spending more time on your website.

You can improve this metric by matching search intent. This means producing content that satisfies user queries. Having a good website design and usability also helps, as it will make your website more inviting and easier to use.

Dwell Time

Dwell time is the time spent by visitors on your web pages after clicking on your SERP listings, before going back to search engine result pages to look for another option.

If users are staying on a page for longer periods of time, search engines are more likely to consider your website relevant and authoritative in regard to what it is offering.

To increase dwell time, make sure your content is detailed and comprehensive enough that it can satisfy user queries and keep users engaged. Another useful tactic is including interesting media throughout your website pages, as this will encourage users to stay more on your website.

Pages per Visit

Pages per visit measure how many web pages a visitor has visited during the same session. The higher the number of pages per visit, the more likely it is that users are engaging with your content and exploring different sections of your website.

You can improve this metric by creating content that’s related to each other so users can easily find what they're looking for. Also, you can add internal links to other related content on your website, so users stay longer and visit different pages.

Return Visits

Return visits measure how often visitors come back to your website after their first visit. If a user has returned more than once, it's likely that they found the information they needed and are interested in your content.

To increase return visits, you should focus on building a loyal customer base. Strategies such as offering content upgrades or discounts for returning customers are useful for converting first-time visitors into long-term readers and buyers.

Final Words

Search engine optimization is an ever-evolving field and there are plenty of strategies that can help you improve your rankings and sell more online, without relying on link building.

By focusing on content relevance, UX signals, local SEO, and rich snippets, you can create a powerful strategy that will bring more organic traffic to your website.

At the same time, SEO is only one part of a successful online presence and you should also consider other strategies such as content marketing or social media.

Ultimately, your business success depends on providing quality content that meets users’ needs.

Good luck!

Erik Emanuelli

Erik Emanuelli

Erik Emanuelli has been blogging since 2010. He’s now sharing what he has learned on his website. Find more insights about SEO and blogging here.

Link: More about SEO from Erik

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