Yes. The short answer is yes, backlinks are still vital for any successful SEO strategy. SEO is a constantly evolving practice, and advancements in technology and changes in internet culture have meant that you have more things to worry about, and the way SEO professionals go about some things will change. Voice search in particular is changing the way we think about optimization, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to forget about one of the most basic principles of SEO — link building.
Organic traffic, or traffic from search engine referrals, remains as vital a statistic as ever for any successful website, and building good backlinks is still one of the best ways to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs). Web traffic, domain authority, conversion rates, and referring domains (the number of separate domains you have linking to your content) are all crucial metrics to track for your website’s success, and backlinks can play a role in all of them.
Why are backlinks important?
Backlinks can be seen sort of like endorsements from other websites. To put it another way, they let search engines know that your content is worthwhile. Your backlink portfolio is a key indicator of your site’s overall authority, and while it may seem impressive to build up as high a number of backlinks as possible, quality matters much more than quantity.
A site that has 100 backlinks from 20 different sites, for example, may not be as impressive to a search engine as a site that has only 50 backlinks that come from 40 different sites. As with most things, diversifying your portfolio is important. The more authoritative sites you can get to link to your site, the more trustworthy your site becomes. Naturally, gathering bad backlinks in your portfolio will damage your site’s quality, and you may have to take steps to correct this in the future.
Building good backlinks
You’ll need to think carefully about how you earn your backlinks. Some webmasters opt for black hat methods that manipulate search engine rules. These methods may produce positive short term results, but they don’t last, and they can easily result in a Google penalty. It’s best to rely on more honest methods. They will take time, but you can be confident in your portfolio.
Broken link building: This is an easy way to create one-way links to your site. The method involves finding broken, or “dead,” links on other websites and contacting their webmasters to suggest replacements. Naturally, you’ll list your site as a replacement destination. Of course, you’ll want to ensure your site has something to do with the content the webmaster offers, as otherwise this method will come off as desperate and possibly backfire.
Infographics: While infographics may not be as popular as they were in their prime, they’re still a great way to generate traffic. Visuals are generally easy to embed in content, and users love that the visuals can explain complex material quickly.
Surveys: Using surveys to produce linkable content has exploded in popularity in recent years, and plenty of online tools are available to help you create surveys. Making blog posts based on survey results, sharing results on social media, or sending results to your mailing list are just a few ways you can use them to draw traffic.
Checking your backlinks
Once you’ve started building your portfolio, you should perform a backlink analysis. Several free tools online will show all of your backlinks as well as their general quality. If you see bad links in your portfolio, you can remove them either by contacting the webmaster of the appropriate site, or you can disavow the links through Google. It may also be a good idea to check your competitor’s sites to see how you compare.