"10 blue links" refers to the ten organic search results that appear on a search engine results page (SERP) in response to a user's query. These links are typically listed in order of relevance to the query, as determined by the search engine's algorithm.
They're the links in search engines that have not been paid for.
Most of the time there is no such thing as "10 blue links".
Google is now full of snippets, images, and other useful widgets for users, as well as intrusive ads, which reduces the number of blue links down to 8 or 9.
Do the 10 blue links matter?
Understanding the importance of 10 blue links is critical for SEO practitioners, as these links are often the primary source of organic traffic to a website. When a user performs a search, they're presented with a list of relevant results, and the links that appear at the top of the list are typically the ones that receive the most clicks.
"Google's front page is out bread and butter in the search community. Those 10 blue links are coveted and so the should be. In 2023, those (and now snippets and People Also Asked boxes) what we compete to win."—Ben Goodey, SEO Consultant
For example, if you run a business that sells running shoes and you're trying to increase traffic to your website, it's essential to ensure that your website appears in the top 10 search results for keywords related to running shoes. This can be accomplished through a variety of SEO techniques, including keyword optimization, link building, and content marketing.
How the 10 blue links work
Crawling search engines use complex algorithms to determine which web pages are most relevant to a user's query. These algorithms take into account a wide variety of factors, including the content on a page, the structure of the website, and the links pointing to the page.
When a user performs a search, the search engine scans its index of web pages to find the ones that are most relevant to the query. The search engine then presents the top 10 results in the form of 10 blue links.
Evolution of search
Over the years Google has changed how they present search. No search is still just 10 blue links.
Just take a look yourself. Search for a film or a sports star on Google and you'll see the whole host of widgets, images, summaries and news stories.
For that reason, "10 blue links" typically refers to days of old in the search community.