Are links still important?
John Mueller of Google said the search engine is trying to envision a future where links won’t be as important as they are today. They are already trying to reduce the weightage that links have on ranking by analyzing content better.
Well, it’s something where I imagine, over time, the weight on the links. At some point, will drop off a little bit as we can’t figure out a little bit better how the content fits in within the context of the whole web. And to some extent, links will always be something that we care about because we have to find pages somehow. It’s like how do you find a page on the web without some reference to it?
But my guess is over time, it won’t be such a big factor as sometimes it is today. I think already, that’s something that’s been changing quite a bit.
But the one phrase that strikes me is, “such a big factor as sometimes it is today.”
Today, as things stand, links are definitely a big factor.
In fact, we could safely bet that they are the biggest factor.
However, you just can’t go out and build or buy a thousand links, as Google has very strict – but very vague – guidelines around that, right?
Then what do you do? You look for information – on trends and tactics in link building.
Link Building Study Reveals Interesting Viewpoints
SEO is an ever-evolving field where you need to stay on top of the latest techniques, tools and approaches if you want to be successful. It is a zero-sum game where one site wins for every query. Neither reaching the top nor staying there is simple or permanent.
This is why it is so important to form hypotheses, keep experimenting, conduct studies and closely monitor what your peers and industry leaders are doing in SEO.
As a link building tool, we here at Serpzilla monitor such studies, surveys and experiments very closely. We need to keep changing our approaches as well as offerings to enable link builders across the world to keep ruling the SERPs.
Some research that caught our eye recently is an anonymous survey of over 750 link builders conducted by Authority Hacker. Here we present some key takeaways of this study, along with our quick analysis of what we think those figures really mean for link builders.
- 75% of SEOs still pay for links.
- Quick takeaway: Buying links is still very much a normal part of SEO.
- The average cost of a paid link is over $80.
- Quick takeaway: Links don’t come cheap.
- In-house SEOs pay 75% more for links than niche site owners.
- Quick takeaway: Marketing departments need to use their link building budget wisely.
- Experienced link builders can build links for 41% less than newbies.
- Quick takeaway: You should know where to look for links.
- Guest posting is the #1 link building tactic.
- Quick takeaway: Some people claim that creating linkable assets on your website is the best and most effective way of building links. Clearly, the majority of SEOs don’t think so.
- 90% of SEOs think that nofollow links can have an impact on rankings.
- Quick takeaway: Google has always said that nofollow is a hint, not a rule. This means it could positively affect rankings in cases where the link is contextual and relevant.
- Link builders who use social media build 22% more links than those who don’t.
- Quick takeaway: Have an active presence on social media and know how to use various social networks for outreach.
- On average, it takes a little over 3 months to see the impact of link building on your search rankings. In very few cases, it takes more than 6 months or less than 1 month.
- Quick takeaway: 3 to 6 months is the approximate time that you can expect (or promise to clients) to wait before seeing the results of your link building campaign.
These findings are an eye-opener for many people who blindly follow what Google says. White hat link building is about conforming to Google’s webmaster guidelines in spirit. Google never said you can’t experiment and reach your own conclusions about what works or not, or which ranking factor is effective to what extent.
Other Trends That We’re Seeing in Link Building
Since our tool helps SEOs build thousands of links every day, we get some great insider insights about the kind of links that are being built and their effectiveness on search rankings and visibility.
Here, we present some of those insights for you – again, with our analysis of what it can mean for your SEO campaigns in the immediate future.
1. The importance of links from social networks and instant messengers will grow.
We expect Google to pay more attention to links from social networks and IM apps in 2023. This is because these are the places where the most impactful conversations are happening. More questions are being asked, more referrals are given and more influencers are consolidating their authority. Google cannot afford to ignore the power of these links.
2. The authority of influential personalities will continue to grow.
This means that Google’s ranking algorithms will somehow figure out that the links shared by influencers are more valuable compared to average people. Just like a hyperlink from an authoritative and trusted website, influencers can – well, influence – other people’s behavior and opinions by sharing certain information, including links.
3. The impact of links in local search will increase.
Since the number of local searches (especially on mobile devices) is continually increasing, local SEO is getting more differentiated. As a result, the more links you have from local sources such as business directories, city council websites, and so on, the better chances you have of being more relevant to the location.
4. Links from top pages will be more effective.
More and more link builders are trying to get backlinks from the homepage, main category pages, landing pages or top-performing blog posts of the target website. These pages tend to have a ready mass of good links. Consequently, more link juice is transferred to your site. Serpzilla has a special filter to help you search for such pages. You can also search for pages that are already ranking in the top 50 for your chosen keyword.
5. The use of AI to analyze link profiles will increase.
2023 is already proving to be the year of AI. Needless to say, Google will continue to use AI-based algorithms to analyze the backlink profile of websites. AI can spot patterns that will help Google recognize which links are natural and which ones have been built artificially.
6. Contextual relevance of links remains of utmost importance.
The ultimate power of a backlink lies in the relevance of the text around it to your page. As John Mueller implied, Google is expected to increase its focus on the contextual relevance of links in its ranking algorithms. When a user clicks a link on your website, they should find what they fully expected to find. That is the sign of contextual relevance.
Over to You
What trends are you noticing in SEO? What kind of links work for you? Have you done any experiments that affect the number, speed or authority of the links you build? Do share with us and our community!