5 Surprising Things the Top Ranked Sites on Google Have in Common

June 30, 2021

By Neil Patel

What separates the heavyweights of the search engine rankings from everyone else? That’s a question every good SEO constantly asks themselves as they look to outrank sites that seem to dominate Google for every relevant keyword (like Wikipedia or WebMD).

Unsurprisingly, these sites have more than a few things in common. It’s not just their age or authority either—factors that other sites can’t hope to match. There are plenty of similar qualities that help top sites stand apart from their competitors that you can copy and improve today.

Let’s review five of the most important and surprising factors and explain what you can learn from them and how you can use that to improve your own site.

1. Backlinks Reign Supreme

Let’s get the least surprising commonality out of the way first. The top-ranked sites on Google all have a serious number of backlinks. As we all know, high-quality backlinks almost always mean high rankings.

Research from Backlinko finds the first result on Google has an average of 3.8 times as many backlinks as the rest of the results on the first page.

The big boys have it made when it comes to acquiring more backlinks, too. They continue to get more backlinks over time as a result of their position in Google.

Research by Ahrefs finds that the top three results generate more new referring domains than the rest of the pages on Google. Pages ranked first and second get significantly more new referring domains. Those pages ranking first get between backlinks at a faster rate of between five percent and 14.5 percent per month.

It’s not just a large number of backlinks that are important. They need to be high quality, too. What does a quality backlink look like? It comes from an authoritative domain, is placed within its content, and has topical relevance to your website.

Let’s say you have a car blog. A link from another high-ranking car blog carries more weight and is of higher quality than a link from a major health website because it’s much more relevant to your niche.

You shouldn’t discount internal links, either. The biggest websites (and news outlets in particular) almost always put a lot of effort into making sure every new piece of content links back to several previous posts.

Great internal linking makes it significantly easier for Google to crawl your website and index your information. The easier your site is to crawl, the more likely Google will find and rank your content. They may not have the same power as backlinks, but internal links can still result in higher rankings.

All this is to say that you …read more

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