SEO Glossary / Link Velocity

Link Velocity

Link velocity in SEO refers to the rate at which a website or a page is gaining backlinks. It is usually measured in links per month or referring domains per month. The concept of link velocity is almost two decades old, originating from a Google patent in 2003 that discussed how the search engine should treat websites based on their link growth.

There is ongoing debate within the SEO community about whether link velocity impacts SEO. Some argue that it is a ranking factor, while others believe it has no real effect on rankings, whether positive or negative.

The Google patent from 2003 mentioned a "spiky rate of growth" in backlinks, suggesting that unnatural growth rates might cause the search engine to lower the site's score to reduce the effects of spamming. Some SEO professionals believe that a higher link velocity can be detrimental if it appears manipulative.

However, the Google Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) update in 2011 suggests that rapid link growth for new, topical content could be beneficial. This implies that if the spike in links is due to genuine interest, Google might reward the page.

Several reasons suggest that link velocity might not be a ranking factor:

  • The argument is based on an old patent, and Google's algorithms have significantly evolved since then.
  • Google does not officially recognize the term "link velocity." Google's Gary Illyes and John Mueller have both indicated that the quality of links, rather than the rate of acquisition, is what matters.

Ultimately, the quality and relevance of backlinks are more critical than the speed at which they are acquired. Google's algorithms focus on penalizing websites that exhibit unnatural link patterns over extended periods, not just rapid link growth.

One of the simplest ways to check the link velocity of any website or page is to use a backlink analysis tool like Ranktracker's Site Explorer.

  1. Enter the domain name or URL into Site Explorer: This will provide an overview of the website's backlink profile.
  2. Analyze Referring Pages and Domains: Look at graphs showing the number of referring pages and referring domains over time.
  3. Calculate Link Velocity: The difference in the number of backlinks between two consecutive months is your site's link velocity.

While link velocity may not be a recognized ranking factor, checking for irregular spikes or negative link growth in your backlink profile can still be useful. You want steady growth without drastic changes that could be interpreted as algorithm manipulation attempts.

Ranktracker’s Site Explorer also allows you to perform competitor link velocity analysis by typing in the URLs of top-ranking sites in your niche. This helps you understand natural link growth patterns in your market, keeping you competitive.


There are no absolute numbers when it comes to good link velocity. The best way to determine what "natural" link growth should look like for your site is to perform a competitor link velocity analysis. Look at the historical trends of top-ranking pages and your main competitors’ sites to gauge how fast they have gained links over time.

By understanding link velocity and focusing on building high-quality, relevant backlinks, you can improve your website’s SEO and maintain a healthy backlink profile.