It’s no secret that the web is growing by millions (if not billions) of pages per day.

But how much of this content gets any search traffic from Google?

Last year we kind of answered this question by studying ~2 million random newly-published pages. We found that only 5.7% of them ranked in the top 10 Google search results for at least one search query within a year of being published.

In other words, a whopping 94.3% of pages in our ~2 million page sample didn’t get even a single visitor from Google.

But ~2 million pages is a rather insignificant sample size when you consider the depth and breadth of the entire web. So we decided to conduct another study.

But why is this, and how can you be a part of the minority that gets organic search traffic from Google?

Well, there are hundreds of SEO issues that may keep your pages away from ranking well in Google. But if we focus the most common scenarios only, there’s only two of them.

“91% of websites get no organic traffic from google”

Reason 1: The page doesn’t have any backlinks

I hate to rehearse the same mantra that is found in almost every other SEOarticle, but there’s really no way around it:

Backlinks do help you rank higher in Google!

And they are one of Google’s “top 3 ranking factors.”

So why don’t we slice that same “~1 billion pages” pie by the number of referring domains that are linking to each page?

It looks like 55.24% of pages don’t have even a single backlink. And 29.79% of pages have links from less than three websites.

Do you notice the trend already?

The vast majority of pages don’t get any search traffic, AND the vast majority of pages don’t have any backlinks.

But are these the same pages?

Let’s see how the number of referring domains to a page correlates with the estimated organic search traffic to that page (across our entire database of ~1 billion pages in Content Explorer):

And it looks like we have a linear correlation — the more backlinks a page has, the more search traffic it gets from Google.

We can see a similar correlation between the number of referring domains and the number of keywords that a page ranks for:

However, it IS possible to get search traffic to your page even if it has zero backlinks, but only if there’s a lack of “powerful” pages in SERPs for your target keyword(s).

Well over a million pages get some nice traffic from Google while having zero backlinks and residing on domains with a Domain Rating (DR) lower than 60.

Now, in all honesty, these numbers are somewhat skewed by SEO spammers from “dark” industries, who hide their backlinks from Ahrefs while ranking for all kinds of stuff in Google.

If the possibility of getting search traffic without the need to build backlinks excites you, I suggest learning more about the concept of Keyword Difficulty and how to find keywords/topics with decent search traffic potential and low competition.
Reason 2: The page doesn’t target a topic with enough search traffic potential
Sometimes pages will have tons of backlinks but still get zero traffic from Google.

I filtered for all pages in the Content Explorer database that get no traffic from organic search and divided them into four buckets based on the number of linking domains to each page.

But sometimes a page with tons of backlinks may simply be targeting something too generic and thus, won’t serve the searcher intent well enough.

A somewhat extreme case is this page from Engadget, which doesn’t even seem to appear in Google’s index despite having over 6k referring domains. What a waste, right?

Despite all my bravado about analyzing a massive database of ~1 billion pages and extracting cool pie-charts and graphs from said data, the bottom line is painfully simple and obvious to anyone familiar with SEO:

If you want to get traffic from Google, you need to publish pages about the things that people are searching for (i.e., do proper keyword research) and make sure those pages get links from other sites (i.e., do some link building).

In the grand scheme of things, that’s really all you need in order to show up in Google search results and get organic traffic to your site



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