What Are Good And Bad Link Building Ratios

Good versus bad link building ratios are a often debated topic in Search Engine Optimization. Some SEO professionals hold themselves to strict rules as to what a backlink profile should look like. Others prefer to largely wing it and pay attention to the bigger picture. In both cases, however, there is an understanding that over optimization can get websites punished.

But at what point exactly are those ratios considered good or bad? Can being negligent about your backlinks backfire and cost you precious ranking positions? Or is the SEO professional who chose to be obsessed over and monitor their ratios going to suffer more because their work looks unnatural to Google?

Let’s dive in and explore this topic while trying to answer these questions.

Why Do We Look At Link Ratios

Firstly, before we begin with the theories and examples, let’s establish why we look at link building ratios.

To get the idea right, we need to understand one simple web concept. That is, usually, websites get the majority of their links pointing to their homepage. As a real business, you’re destined to grow your brand. And in doing so, you often acquire links and mentions that point directly to your homepage. Most websites are not able to produce great content that consistently gets them deep links. Instead, they get a lot of mentions and links for their products or services – which usually point to their homepage.

Because of that, it’s understood as “natural” to get more links to your homepage. There are definitely exceptions to the rule – and that logic doesn’t hold true in every industry and for every website. But as a rule of thumb, remember that usually you will get more links to your homepage – and therefore Google sees this as a good signal of a natural backlink profile.

What Are Some Examples Where This Rule Does Not Hold True?

We could probably dissect a ton of websites and industries individually. But to keep things short and sweet, here’s what I could think of:

Imagine a corporate website. Usually, big corporations grow their brand faster than they grow their search presence. Because of that, they also often get mentioned in the media and by all kinds of bloggers. Also because they don’t publish content – naturally as they dont work on that, there is no reason for anyone to link to their deep pages. That might happen in a couple of instances at best when they announce big news – however, the majority of the links are pointing to the homepage.

In this case, the Google algorithm is trained to see many links pointing to the homepage – and therefore adjusting the PageRank score based on how much value is passed internally. Building many deep links in such a scenario might prove to hurt the website – because Google simply isn’t used to seeing that. Having many deep links built in a short period, in turn, can cause the algorithm to flag the website and a Manual Reviewer to be involved. In that case, a Manual Reviewer can easily determine whether the links are natural or not – and therefore punish the website.

This is also true for other types of businesses that do not involve providing much information about their products or services in different content pages. Such examples are many types of local businesses – after all, firstly there aren’t a ton of local bloggers or media outlets that are particularly excited linking to an “/our-cleaning-process/” page that explains how a local company treats your carpets to begin with. Secondly, logically thinking about it, there also aren’t many reasons to link to such a page (unless you’ve invented something revolutionary that’s worth talking about and linking to – which is the exception in this case).

But Where Does The Rule Hold True Then?

However, some industries work with tons of content and publish many new posts and pages very often – and therefore they acquire more links – which the algorithm is trained to detect. In this case, having more links to your deeper pages is natural – and can even be considered perfectly acceptable. For example, bloggers often find themselves in this position – their home pages aren’t as strong because they don’t have as strong of a brand and as large a reach as bigger brands do. However, their content is much better than bigger brands and therefore it earns them many links.

Why Is It Important To Have Good Link Ratios

Because of all of these reasons, it is considered natural to have the majority of your links pointing to your homepage and not deeper pages. Google is constantly on the look for unnatural behaviors – and unnatural behaviors are composed of large patterns that it finds across many websites. Depending on how “in line” you are with your industry, you could be rewarded or punished.

How To Ensure You Have Good Ratios

When looking at your link ratios, it’s time to stop thinking about it as a singular instance. That is, don’t think about them only about your website but rather the competitive space you’re in. Take some (more) of your competitors’ websites and analyze them too. If you don’t have a ton of content, you can even go as far as doing an analysis for each of the pages that rank higher in SERPs (and even that don’t – because then you can determine whether they need more deep links).

To understand both your link ratios and those of your competitors, you’ll need an SEO tool. That’s because while you can normally see your backlinks in Google Search Console, the tool does not allow you to see the links your competitors have acquired. You can really go in-depth here monitoring different links, metrics and ratios – because there are so many of them. However, we recommend you keep things simple with a tool that is easy to work with similar to Morningscore.

Good Link Building Ratios

Because we established that there is no one true number for what your link ratios should look like, we can’t really say exactly how your specific link profile should look like. If we had to put a number on it, we’ll probably suggest something like 60% homepage links to 30-35% deep links. However, take that number with a grain of salt as it really depends on the type of industry you’re in and how other websites dictate Google’s behavior for your search queries.

Bad Link Building Ratios

Bad link ratios include everything that isn’t natural according to Google in your competitive space. If you’re a local business and most of your competitors have little to none deep links, then you’re likely better off keeping your link profile similar to them. Of course, your goal is to improve that – and therefore you want more and better links to them. But just make sure to point them to your front page instead of linking them to deeper pages.

Also, an important thing to remember is that Google never punished anyone for a single mistake and one-time-only “bad behavior”. The algorithm looks at billions of websites and pages daily and therefore it isn’t as strict if you get one bad backlink or over optimize a certain keyword. To get a punishment (especially a Manual Action) you need to consistently exhibit bad and scammy behavior with your SEO strategies.


That’s it for now. I hope this post gave you a good idea of how you can think about your link ratios. While many SEOs & bloggers want to point to a specific number that everyone can universally use (because it’s easy to remember and work with), things are not as simple and you should not take such advice at face value. While it might be true for some industries, it can bring a lot of headaches in others. Remember to always examine your industry and own websites to ensure that you’re in compliance with what Google expects to see.