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Importance of Backlinks in SEO

Are Backlinks Relevant or Not? Taking a Closer Look at the Discourse

Changes in search algorithms have added a bit of nuance into how you approach backlinks today. We take a worm’s-eye view to suss out the facts....

Suppose two new restaurants open up in your neighborhood. Let’s call them A and B. Both look equally tempting in terms of food and ambiance. You want to visit one of them for dinner tonight. But which one? You find yoursfelf caught in a dilemma. All of a sudden, you receive a call from a friend. They inform you that the food and service at B is exemplary. And so, instantly, your mind is made. B, it is. 

If you could wrap your head around the designs of this hypothetical scenario, you already understand how backlinks work. On the World Wide Web, the more backlinks or “recommendations” a site has, the more credible it is deemed by search engines. And should this recommendation come from a source who’s a verified authority in your domain, it packs that much more gravity. Let’s visit our hypothetical scenario again. After receiving your friend’s call, who vouched for B, should you have come across a glowing review of A dropped by a food critic, wouldn’t you have ended up going to A instead? So, when it comes to backlinks, quality and quantity are equally important. If you manage to tick both those boxes, you greatly increase your chances of ranking on top in SERPs, thereby securing a lot of organic traffic. Or do you? It’s this very claim that we examine closely in this blog. 

Understanding the State of Backlinks

Once regarded as a bonafide vote of confidence by search engines and hence playing an instrumental role in bettering the ranking of a website, backlinks don’t hold the same prime value today. Algorithm changes effected by search engines, particularly Google, in recent years have resulted in backlinks no longer being a top ranking factor. In comparison to when Google Search first began, backlinks as a signal currently don’t carry as much impact. That said, they continue to be important from an SEO perspective and, hence, must be featured in your organic SEO strategies. 

Contrary to earlier times, when the quality of backlinks used to be as critical as quantity, now the emphasis is singularly on quality. So, even if you manage to secure only a handful of backlinks, they’ll hold you in good stead if you have procured them from reputable and credible sources. And should you resort to unethical practices such as link farming and backlink spamming, you’ll be duly penalized. Keep in mind that all the backlinks you get to your site are evaluated rigorously by search engines for trustworthiness and relevance. With the advent of AI, this screening process has only become more diligent. 

Some factors that search engines consider to assess your backlinks are:

In a nutshell, simply acquiring backlinks for the sake of it won’t help your cause anymore. Focus on getting high-quality backlinks, for that will help consolidate your page’s visibility; this is only possible when you prioritize developing content that is meticulously researched and directly relevant to your reader’s interests.

Best Practices to Help You Earn Backlinks the Right Way

Consistently earning high-quality backlinks is no walk in the park. In this section, we take a look at some techniques that will allow you to go about this job efficiently..

Develop Assets that Attract Links

When your page has compelling and well-researched assets, other websites will be keen to cite you and approach you for the same. And natural links, as you must be aware, are absolutely invaluable from an SEO perspective. Now, what could be some of these assets?

  • Long-form guides
  • Unique case studies
  • Infographics
  • “Skyscraper” content (a content piece that is a substantially upgraded version of an already high-performing piece in your domain)

To produce such a resource, you first need to perform keyword research and identify high-volume keywords. Next, you need to brainstorm all the possible angles you could touch upon in your asset; the goal is to create something that bloggers and journalists in your domain would be compelled to cite in their articles. 

Transform Brand Mentions to Links

This is perhaps one of the most straightforward yet highly effective ways of earning backlinks. Sometimes, pages mention your business (if not directly the name of your business, then a particular product or service, or an event you had organized, or an employee- you get the drift) in their blogs but forget to include a link back to your page. All you have to do is locate such instances and send them a polite note, requesting them to do what is needed. How do you know when someone mentions your brand, you ask? You can take the help of a service such as Google Alerts. If you are keen on uncovering additional insights regarding your mention, such as the domain authority of the page that cited you, or the number of shares of the content piece in which your brand was mentioned, you can do so with the help of tools like Ahrefs Content Explorer, BuzzSumo, or Mention.

Put Out Ultimate Guides

Ultimate guides, as the name suggests, are insightful and comprehensive content pieces on a particular subject. Meant to be an all-encompassing explainer on a topic, ultimate guides are great for attracting inbound links. Because of their high utility, they are frequently referenced by anyone who wishes for their readers to gain a detailed understanding of a concept they have mentioned in their own piece. For instance, suppose you have written an ultimate guide on digital marketing. Now, if someone is writing a piece, say, “Top affiliate marketing blogs to check out”, they can easily link to your guide, which talks in detail about affiliate marketing, rather than doing the same in their post. Besides earning links, ultimate guides tend to be heavily shared as well, helping your business gather a lot of eyeballs.

Revamp Old Content

Equally vital as creating new, high-quality content pieces is periodically visiting pieces that date back 2-4 years and revamping them with new data and insights. Over time, as a particular piece loses relevance, its ability to attract links will also decrease. Once revamped, you can consider contacting all those sites that had linked the previous version to inform them of the updated one. Eventually, you’ll witness a hike in the number of visits and social shares of your old piece.

Practice Broken Link Building

Broken link building refers to the practice of finding broken outbound links on pages (you can use tools like Ahrefs and Siteliner; Siteliner is free if you are reviewing less than 250 pages) and then reaching out to them with the proposal of swapping it with a link to a relevant asset of yours. It is a popular technique because it benefits both the parties involved. The page you are approaching gets the opportunity to mend a broken link, and you, of course, earn a backlink. However, for your swapping proposal to be treated with gravity, make sure that the resources you are pitching will offer value and be relevant to the readers of the page you are approaching. The tone of your outreach email is crucial, too. Attempt to sound helpful and not as someone desperate to earn a backlink.

Looking Beyond Backlinks

Now that we understand that backlinks, while important, don’t necessarily contribute to your page’s ranking, let us take a look at some other measures you can implement to achieve the same. 

  • Publish high-quality content: The main goal of search engines is to answer the user’s queries in a manner that is as complete as possible. Content pieces that are thoroughly researched and expertly articulated help them fulfil the same. Ensure that the content you are publishing has original insights, addresses the interests and pain points of the target audience, and backs its claims and arguments with solid data. If you manage to populate your content library with such pieces, you can remain assured that your website will feature on top in SERPs.
  • Embrace the mobile-first philosophy: Ever since Google switched to mobile-first indexing, it has become imperative for businesses to make their websites mobile-friendly. If your page is not responsive, it can spoil the user experience of mobile users. Subsequently, your ranking will suffer, too. Besides, pages optimized for mobile have faster loading times and facilitate greater ease of navigation; all the more reason for you to take this route!
  • Get keyword optimization right: Stuffing your content with keywords will not get you anywhere; what you need to do is identify relevant, high-volume keywords, ones that align with your audience’s search intent, and incorporate them organically into your content. 
  • Pay attention to your website’s structure: Websites that have a logical site structure and a coherent URL structure make it possible for search engines to efficiently crawl and index the content they hold. Additionally, it also helps visitors easily find what they are looking for on your page.

Wrapping It Up

Even though backlinks are no longer a top-ranking factor, they help strengthen your visibility and reputation. Thus, you must have a robust backlink-building strategy in place. We hope the insights shared above will help you in that endeavor. 

Seeking assistance with high-quality link building services? Reach out to us!”

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Rohan Kar - Content Writer

Rohan Kar works as a senior content writer at Mavlers. An engineering graduate, he was quick to realize that his calling lied in other pastures. When not writing, he can be found participating in elaborate movie marathons or aggressive book circle discussions.

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