What is link velocity?
Link velocity refers to the speed with which backlinks are acquired. Part of an SEO audit aims to profile backlinks that growth naturally, as even if it was 100% created by the site owner, it must look natural to Google’s eyes.
This means links were acquired in a consistent manner. The graph below clearly shows links on this example were acquired in a consistent and natural manner.
As you can see from the graph above, there are no spikes that would make this backlink profile look suspicious to Google or their manual web spam team. The site consistently grew their backlinks in the order of 10-20 per month in a 12 month period.
How to calculate link velocity?
There are several tools which can help you calculate the speed with which backlinks were acquired, but one of my favorites is Moz’s Link Explorer tool. Simply enter your domain in their input field to get a site wide measurement of your domain, including domain authority, linking domains, inbound links, ranking keywords and other backlink metrics.
Once you’ve entered your domain, look for the ‘Metrics Over Time‘ section and click in the ‘Linking Domains’ radio button and voilá! You’ll have your ‘link velocity’ graph.
You can now grab a screenshot of it and add it to your SEO audit report. Note the graph is dynamically generated, so you can copy the values into a nice Excel file in order to quantify and record link velocity growth.
What’s the ideal link velocity?
I don’t think there’s a right answer when it comes to the ideal link velocity. My personal take, according to Google’s standards, is to have a link velocity that looks natural. If you have a new site, it does not look natural to suddenly have hundreds of backlinks in a couple months.
Also, if you have an aged domain, you might some historical backlinks to assess your current link velocity rate. If, for example, you’ve acquired an average of 100 backlinks per year. Suddenly getting thousands of backlinks in less than a year might look suspicious to Google.
Of course this doesn’t mean you’ll be instantly penalized for this. There can be a variety of logical and natural reasons for this to happen. But it may trigger some form of action from their manual team.