Backlink building is an integral part of any SEO strategy, serving as the bulk of most offsite optimization strategies since the early 2000s. However, due to aggressive link building, inappropriate link building, and downright spam-level tactics, Google has gradually increased the sophistication of its backlink profile analysis and has refined the way it views backlinks as a means of conveying online authority.
A decade ago, quantity meant everything. The sites with the greatest number of backlinks pointing back to them were the ones with the highest domain authority, and were the most likely to rank for a given set of keywords. Today, that’s simply no longer the case. In order to get the authority and ranking benefits from a backlink, you must adhere to a strict and often ambiguous series of rules and guidelines that Google implemented through its Penguin algorithm updates.
Link sources tend to be at the center of this scrutiny; building links on low-quality sources can compromise your perceived integrity. Building too many links on one source alone can also make you seem like a spammer, but diversifying your links, using multiple sources and links to multiple internal pages, can improve your standing. As such, many webmasters wonder: is it beneficial to have multiple backlinks from the same site?
Anatomy of a Backlink
First, you have to understand the function of a backlink, and what elements of a backlink contribute to its SEO value. Google looks at a number of factors when it comes to judging your backlinks, including:
The root domain of the backlink (this will always be the same if you’re posting links back to your own site).
The individual page of the backlink (posting too many links to one page can be seen as spam, whereas using a plethora of different internal pages can be beneficial).
The quality of the source (authoritative sites carry more weight than low-quality sites).
The appropriateness of the source (in terms of its relevance to your industry).
Context clues (a judge of whether your link is helpful and beneficial to the conversation or just there to promote your rank).
Frequency (which we’ll cover in more detail shortly).
All of these factors, working together, are what comprise the overall “authoritativeness” of your individual backlinks.
External Links and Root Links
For the purposes of determining the authority and “value” of a given backlink, it’s important to distinguish between individual links and what’s become known as “root links.” Root links refer to the number of domains that link to your domain, while traditional external links refer to individual instances of links to your domain. For example, if you have 1,000 links split between four different external websites, you would have 1,000 external links, but only four root links.
Google tends to place more value on root links than it does on external links. So, if you have 1,000 different links on four different sources, you’ll get significantly less authority than if you have 1,000 different links on 1,000 different sources.
Frequency and Diminishing Return
When considering the number of your external links, and the frequency with which you post them on an external site, it’s important to understand Google’s law of diminishing return. Posting a link on a new domain will earn you a new root link, which is greatly beneficial to your authority. Posting another link will not grant you a new root link, and will not pass as much page rank as your first link, but will still pass a significant amount. Your third link will post slightly less authority, and so on. The more links you post on a given source, the less authority you’ll get from each link.
Let’s say you have two cases with an identical number and type of root links; in one case, you have 100 external links split amongst those sources, and in the other case, you have 1,000 split amongst those same sources. In the second case, you will have a higher total authority coming from those sources, but the average individual value of your links will be lower.
However, this analysis does not take into account the idea that each of your links can point to a separate internal page. Pointing to multiple internal pages can increase the individual page rank of those pages, in addition to whatever domain authority increases you receive. For example, if you have 1,000 links pointing to your home page, you will receive X amount of increased overall domain authority, but the only page more likely to show up in search results will be your home page. However, if you have 1,000 links pointing to 100 different internal pages, you’ll receive X amount of increased overall domain authority, but you’ll have 100 different pages more likely to show up in search results.
Multiple Links on the Same Page
There’s also a case where you have two links pointing back to your domain on the same page of an external site. For example, if you write a guest blog post that features multiple links back to your domain, you could encounter this problem. According to Matt Cutts, in this situation, any links on the same page will be recognized as carrying page rank. Therefore, if two links in the body of your guest post point to the same internal page, you would get roughly twice as much page rank as a result. Differing anchor text will not affect this, so don’t be afraid to post multiple times, as long as the context of your links is appropriate.
The Bottom Line
If you’re building high-quality links, then every link you build will have some benefit for your domain.Therefore, building multiple links on the same site is a worthwhile strategy.
However, it’s important to note that your root links are more important than your total number of external links. If you build links continuously on the same external site, you’ll get far less value than you’ll get by building links on other external sites. Building links that point to different internal pages is also important so you can maximize the number of internal pages showing up in search results.
The bottom line here is that even though posting the same link many times on one site is beneficial, it’s more beneficial to diversify your strategy wherever you can; use multiple anchor texts, use links to multiple internal pages, post links on multiple pages and most importantly, post links on different external sources.
However, in the words of Matt Cutts, spending too much time worrying about the logistics of individual backlink analysis is akin to “splitting hairs.” There are much more important qualities of your campaign to consider. For example, the structure of your site, the crawlability of your content, the user experience of your site, your social media presence, and your ongoing content management strategy are all far more important elements than individual link analysis. Take the information in this article into consideration when developing your backlink building strategy, but don’t let it overpower your focus on the more significant factors that influence your rank.
Timothy Carter is the CRO for AudienceBloom. Since 1997 he's been helping businesses maximize their sales revenue from websites via content marketing, SEO and Internet Marketing strategies. Over the years he's written for publications like Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs and other highly respected online publications.