Myth: It Takes Lots of Backlinks to be Number One on Google

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Israel heraldry

I once believed that I didn't do any SEO at all to rank my articles on my sites and blogs. I thought SEO was only about getting backlinks and other boring stuff, and if there's one thing I don't want to waste my precious time with it's doing tedious tasks.

To my surprise, a lot of my articles ranked high anyway.

Right, I did ask my followers to link to my pages (it was back in those days), and a few actually did, but I never had thousands of backlinks, maybe a handful. And yet, sometimes I could see my article as number one on Google, not only for long tail keyword, but also for ONE single keyword with thousands of local searches. (In Denmark, that's a lot.)

In a moment, I'll show you one of those keywords, the number of searches, the number of competing sites, and what I did to obtain such a high rank – without knowing I was doing SEO.

Number One on Google for This One Word Keyword

The keyword I rank number either one, two or three with, it's moving a bit up and down, is “våbenskjold”.

It's a Danish word that means “heraldry”, and many years ago I wrote an article about how to create your own heraldry.

I think that maybe one other site is linking to this tip, but I'm not sure, and now with the Yahoo back link checker gone, I cannot tell you.

As you can see, it doesn't get a huge amount of monthly local searches, but in Danish therms, this is still something:


Why do I rank as number one?

I have only faint ideas about it, since I'm no SEO expert, but I know that I:

  • Have the word in the headline.

  • The headline is using a h1-tag.

  • I use the word again in the article.

  • It's an old article.

Notice, how I sometimes outrank the Danish Wiki 😉

A funny thing is that I never aimed at ranking with that keyword. I only used it, because I curated an interesting tip about how to make your own heraldry, and it felt natural to use that word both in the headline and in the article. The URL contains the keyword as well.

So tell me again that it's all about back links?

8 thoughts on “Myth: It Takes Lots of Backlinks to be Number One on Google”

  1. I agree that it’s not always about backlinks; a little can go a long way with on-page SEO. However from personal experience I think that backlinks come into play more when the keywords are really competitive like they are in the payment processing industry.

    1. I agree, Katelyn, and thank you for your comment 🙂 Backlinks can be relevant.

      I just read a blog post by Andrew Hansen, and he gives an example where a site without backlinks ranked better than older sites with lots of backlinks. He thought that the explanation was that people spend longer time on his site. He used it as an example for Unstoppable Affiliate.

  2. Hey Britta,

    That’s an interesting post. I think what you are seeing is a low competition keyword that LOOKS like a high competition keyword in action.

    I think the amount of competing pages shown in Googles search results can be very misleading in this respect, competing pages shown in and for example seem to be exactly the same when I do ANY search.

    As an example:

    A search for… cheese burger and petrol, no fries (Bear with me!)

    returns 2,110,000 results in both and

    In (Germany) however it returns 166,000 competing pages.

    What this proves…

    1) Competing pages means very little, why would over 2 million people directly try to compete for the term ‘cheese burger and petrol, no fries’?

    They don’t, it just happens that they have those words in some mixture or another on their page. Thus, according to Google they are competing.

    2) A local search is far easier to rank for in non English speaking countries! (Even the search result is in English judging by the .de competition results)

    Australia and Canada are slightly different at 14,900,000 each.

    Looks like there is some sort of ‘tier’ thing going on…


    Damn… I wish I spoke another language! lol

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your comment.

      My name is Britt, actually. Not Britta. You’re not the first to make the mistake, but I’m surprised that you did, because I thought the name Britta was only known in the Scandinavian countries.

      According to Google AdWords keyword tool, the word “våbenskjold” has low competition.

      When I check in Google, it shows 80,000 pages containing that word.

      If I test with the keywords you’ve given, I find zero results on Did you put the words between quotes? Because if you didn’t, you’re right. Then they could show up completely random all over the page.

      Likewise, if I search for “cheese burger and petrol, no fries” in, I get zero results. And it makes sense 🙂

      Oh, and it’s never too late to learn another language. I don’t recommend Danish, though. It’s a small language area and not very useful, unless you want to read Kirkegaard or live in Denmark 😀

  3. Hey Britt,

    Sorry for the error there!

    Sorry also for not being clearer, what I meant was the results shown on the actual search page, not on the Google AdWords keyword tool.

    You got me to thinking and I wrote an article on it, just out of curiosity to see if I could rank for ‘våbenskjold’ without links.

    Don’t worry, if the experiment is successful I’ll link out to your site to try and help you! 🙂

    Thanks for the food for thought Britt!


  4. Hey Britt,

    Thanks for dropping by at my place and commenting!

    Got a new victim in mind now. Yeah! you were 1 of my victims! (Just kidding Britt, you got me to thinking on all this which I appreciate a lot. 🙂 )

    Next up is somebody who got told they were doing well in Google search results by a guuuruuuu :-s after joining their club or whatever, stay tuned for more! lol

    Might even come back and hit you for a link if you think it is worth linking to… :-s lol

    Thanks again Britt!


  5. Hi again, Chris

    I have to follow your blog – you’re up to interesting and funny things 😀 Great! I don’t mind being your victim, then.

    Yes, please return with a link when you’ve explored the new method 😉

    In my experience, a lot of people boast about their placement and show screen dumps of Google taken directly from their own browser, without the use of proxy. But anybody can reach #1 in Google when they check it from their own computer stuffed with Google cookies. <-- now that might be technically very incorrect, I'm no good at technical stuff, but fact is that search results on my computer is very different from search results on your computer. What a pity that got shot (shut) down.

  6. Yeah,

    Scroogle did make life easy on us guys! To put it in the words of Natalie Cole…

    “I miss you like craaazy!”

    Yeah… This 1’s goin’ out to the Scroogle massive…

    How about incoginto windows in Google Chrome? Never really checked to see if search results vary for your own sites/favorites.

    Using keyword tools instead these days to do my dirty work! lol


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