ludicrous speed

Does Link Velocity Matter — Hell No!

I really get sick of this question. Does link velocity matter?

For those of you that do not know what link velocity is, it is the rate at which a webpage acquires links. So why am I talking about this again? Well, I got an email today that read something like this. (Names and information have been changed to protect the foolish.)

Hey Mike,
I need your help. I have been doing SEO work for a client for 3 months now, and I am having a bit of trouble. Three of the top sites for their primary keyword are using unnatural link velocity and not getting penalized for it. They have days and weeks with huge spikes in links and then nothing. Their sites are
My client’s site is I am building 10-15 links to their site everyday like you are supposed to do. Why is my client’s site not ranking better and why are these three competitors not getting penalized by Google?
Thanks for the help,
A Not-So-Great SEO

Yes, I get emails like this all the time. It just makes me shake my head. I do not know where to even start other than to tell this person they need to get a new line of work.

Well, let’s discuss link velocity, yet again.

There are those out there that believe Google will actually punish a site based on the rate at which it acquires links. They will also tell you that to look “natural” when building links you should build XX number of links per day or per week. For some reason 20 and 50 seem to be a popular numbers among these people. According to them you should build 20 links per day, consistently.

Please show me one site that “naturally” gets 20 links per day, every day. In fact, I cannot think of much that would look more unnatural than that when it comes to link building.

It’s such an asinine theory. It blows my mind that anyone buys into it.

Let’s take a look at a real life example going on right now. I live about 45 minutes from the Gettysburg Battlefield. This week is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. I went into Google and searched for Gettysburg 150th anniversary events. Here is what I found.

One of the top ranking sites is This is a perfect site to use as an example. The site was built specifically for this event. What that means is right now, and over the past few weeks, it has probably seen a big spike in new links. After the event is over though, how many sites are going to keep linking to it? Not many. Yet, I bet it will stay in the top of the SERP.

When I run the site through Ahrefs, my suspicion is confirmed.

Graph showing spike in links to a website

A spike of about 2400 links in 2 months after being flat for 5 months before that (and probably even longer if we looked back before December 2012). You can also see that as the event as arrived and people have already made their plans for what they are doing during the week, the links have slowed down to a trickle.

Yet the site survived Penguin 2.0. It is doing fine with the latest rolling update going on right now. Want to know why? Because this is more often what natural link building looks like.

Think about it. Let’s say there is a semi-popular blog that writes and extremely controversial post on some subject. What often will happen to that post is it will get circulated around among that community. Other bloggers in the niche will mention it in a post and link to it while arguing their opinion on the subject. Forums will discuss it. It might make its way all over Facebook and Twitter. Depending on the popularity, the site is going to see a spike in links.

Now most websites are not creating content like this everyday. Most are not even doing it every month or every week. This creates a link profile that has lots of peaks and valleys.

The same thing can happen for popular retailers. When Apple launches its latest iTurd product, their website, as well as sites like CNet that review the product, will get big spikes in links when the product is announced and again when it actually launches.

My point is simply this. There is nothing unnatural about link spikes. Link velocity is nonsense.

While we are on the subject of stupid myths, take a look at the anchor text breakdown of this same site.

A chart showing anchor text for links to a website

What? 70% of their links have the same anchor text? No way!

Yep. All that crap you hear about varying your anchor text is mostly BS too.

If there is one tip I can give people about SEO, it is to stop listening to the fools on marketing forums claiming to know SEO. Some people will tell you that you should test things yourself. While there is no harm in that, that even is really not necessary. All of the answers… all of them… are right there in the SERPs for you already. You just need to analyze it. You can see what is and what is not working. It’s all right there if you look at it.



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