Is link building dead? To keep things simple: no, not even close! Links remain a vitally important factor for SEO and have a strong correlation with first page rankings. John Mueller created waves when he stated that link building could lead to more harm than good and asked marketers to avoid it in general. Link building can absolutely do more harm than good if executed poorly and incorrectly. The days are gone when website owners could have robots build links for them and see quick returns. SEO requires links, but it is a long-term investment.


Why Are Links Necessary?

Google is in the business of providing users the most relevant results possible. A critically important factor in providing users with what they want is authority. A higher number of links and the quality of links directed toward your website is the best way to build authority. If you wanted to start your own business and were looking for advice, would you prefer advice from the likes of people such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates or 25 random people from off the street? Build links from authoritative sites. Five good links outweigh 50 bad links. Google knows authority matters and uses links to determine the authority of a website.


Why Are Links Important?

In a study analyzing a million Google searches, Backlinko presented these key takeaways:

  1. Backlinks are very important for good Google rankings.
  2. Authority matters.
  3. The number of domains (websites) linking to your website makes a difference. For example, 10 links from 10 different domains is better than 10 links from one domain.

The image above, provided by Moz, reports the findings of a study that tested whether it’s possible to rank on Google without links. They found that over 99% of results on the first page had at least one link pointing to the website. If the keyword is more competitive, in general, the ranking websites will have more authority and links. If a specific page on a website showed up in the rankings, nearly 80% of pages had at least one link pointing to the page. A large amount of quality links and authority on a domain can help specific pages on a website also rank, but it is even better to have links pointing to the specific pages. If you want to show up for a keywords in a search engine, it is practically guaranteed that your website needs links.


What Makes a Bad Link?

Google has created a list of common poor link building tactics. The gist of the list? Don’t create manipulative links that provide zero value. It wouldn’t make sense for a local business in Utah to receive hundreds of links from a website in India. Most websites will receive poor quality links from time to time. This is a natural part of the Internet. Google has gotten better at not counting these links. Stay away from practices that Google would consider a purposeful attempt at deceit and manipulation.


What Makes a Good Link?

Links are necessary to help search engines provide the best results to its users. The best links provide value to the internet. Create unique, original, and relevant content and share it across the Internet. Take part in practices that Google would consider purposeful attempts to naturally build value and authority. Moz recently released an article detailing some of the characteristics of a quality link. To summarize, create links that are trusted, diverse, and relevant. Links are not dead because they help search engines provide better results. Links are necessary, and when you build them correctly, you will help improve the visibility of your website!


Mike is a former SEO Manager at Boostability and has been in the online marketing industry since 2012. He has extensive experience with SEO, email marketing and link building campaigns for in-house and agency teams around the country.

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