Just a few years ago, backlinks were king, and if you wanted to rank a website quickly and get it to the first page of the SERPs, there was no method you could use that would get the job done faster than by building backlinks to your website.
But in recent years, many sites have been penalized because of their shady backlink profiles, causing many SEOs to abandon linkbuilding completely and wash their hands of anything that wasn't 100% white hat. Some are even saying that backlinks don't matter at all anymore, and that attempting to get them is a huge mistake.
But is that really true?
The Purpose And Power Of Backlinks
In the past, Google and other search engines looked at backlinks as votes of confidence in the sites at which they were pointed. This was true in 2007, and it's still true in 2017 as well. If you want your site to be taken seriously, you need to get backlinks from reputable sites, preferably those that publish content whose subject matter is related to your own.
Landing even a handful of links from high-ranking sites in your niche can catapult your site up through the search rankings, perhaps even landing it on page one for some profitable keywords. But the key is to get high quality links as naturally as possible without resorting to spammy links from unrelated sites and blacklisted sites. Failure to do that could get you stuck with a penalty.
Google's Penguin Updates
In 2012, Penguin came along and decimated thousands of low-quality websites – and quite a few reputable ones as well – because they had too many backlinks coming at them from spammy websites and other questionable sources.
Basically, it comes down to this: if you can build the backlink yourself without the website owner approving or even knowing about it, then that link is going to look questionable to Google. You're better off reaching out to a handful of reputable sites in your niche than to get hundreds or thousands of those questionable links.
Should You Build Backlinks Today?
Backlinks are still valuable today. In fact, with so many SEOs avoiding backlinks altogether, those links that you actually do manage to get might be even more powerful today than they were in the past. But you have to be smart about getting them.
Don't think about backlinks as something to be built. Instead, think of them as having to be earned. Do you see the difference? A link that can be built manually has little value – or can actually hurt your site. But a link that has to be earned can actually help boost your site more quickly and more safely.
So yes, it's true that backlinks are not the one-and-only SEO method you should be using. And amateur link building is akin to playing with dynamite. But intelligent backlinking through honest outreach to reputable sites is – and has always been – an excellent strategy for boosting website ranking, and all professional website owners and their SEOs need to put in the effort to build those connections.
The payoff is totally worth it.
This article was written by Clarke Massey of 360 Online Marketing. If you're interested in SEO copywriting, you may want to try out these professionals. This internet marketing firm is located in Boulder, CO. They specialize in PPC advertising, SEO and web design.