Can You Rank Without Backlinks?

The easiest way for a website to rank without backlinks is to focus on low-hanging fruit opportunities—under-served queries with less competition. Ranking without backlinks is difficult, but it is definitely possible.

There are four main ways a website’s backlink profile helps its rankings:

  • It helps build a website’s overall authority on search engines
  • It helps strengthen a website’s topical authority, based on the context of the content that encompasses the backlink
  • It helps search engines to contextualize the contents of the target page
  • It increases the crawlability of the website, as Google now also visits the site from the backlink.

Without backlinks, there is a lower chance a website will rank for any competitive (and likely highly-relevant) search terms. A newer website without backlinks should focus on finding long-tail keywords with lower competition. That usually means writing very specific content for very specific topics

For example, the following keyword (when can you back carry a baby) may be a great starting opportunity for a content piece for a newer brand selling baby carriers. This term has an estimated easy ranking difficulty, and it’s a question keyword – meaning it has high chances of becoming a featured snippet, or a People Also Ask box result. With an estimated monthly search volume of 40 searches, it may not get the brand significant traffic or exposure on it’s own, but it can promise consistent passive exposure.

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This kind of content doesn’t always guarantee conversions from organic search, however, it does promise a chance to rank even with virtually no authority. With time and exposure on Search, Google will start rewarding your website with more competitive rankings. Your content may also get picked up organically by another publication, and give you your first backlink without any proactive efforts.

After a handful of opportunities like the above, and after organic backlinks start pouring in, the brand may start considering optimizing for higher-difficulty and higher-volume commercial and transactional keywords that are more likely to lead to conversions:

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For websites with little to no backlinks – good internal linking (linking to other pages on your own website) is crucial, as you want any authority and traction a page gains to be immediately dispersed throughout your entire website. 

You also need to manually submit new posts and pages in Google Search Console for indexation to make sure that Google actually promptly sees and crawls your content.

Have more questions on building authority and backlinks? Contact Fire&Spark for a free SEO consultation with our senior strategist team.

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