Is Link Building Still Relevant to SEO? (Yes, Here’s Why)

Is Link Building Still Relevant To SEO? (Yes, Here’s Why)

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See those blue ‘hyperlinks‘ you constantly click on the internet that take you from one web page to another? 

Those are backlinks, which play a crucial and relevant role in search engine optimization (SEO).

For the uninitiated, link building is the process of acquiring backlinks from other sites pointing to your own website. 

Those links serve as digital endorsements to your web pages or content pieces. They help establish your website’s authority, relevance, trustworthiness, and more.

However, for many marketers, bloggers, and business owners, the question remains: Is link building still relevant to SEO? 

The straightforward answer is YESIf done right. 

Link building remains one of the most important search engine ranking factors. Especially when it comes to competitive niches and SEO keywords.

Done right, this SEO tactic can help you rank high on the search engine results pages (SERP), establish topical authority, and boost your overall web presence.

But ONLY if done right.

If not, link-building can harm your SEO and worst case scenario, even cause your traffic to take a nosedive.

Which is why there’s a lot of confusion about link-building when it comes to SEO, causing people to question its relevance altogether.

This is exactly what we’ll cover below. Read on to learn:

  • What is link-building, how it works, and what you need to know about its relation to SEO.
  • 5 Essential factors to focus on when building links to ensure SEO relevance and quality links.

What Is Link Building And How Is It Related to SEO?

First things first, link building entails getting other websites to link to your web pages or content pieces. 

The goal here is to acquire and earn high-quality backlinks to boost your SEO, referral traffic, and become an authority in the eyes of Google.

For example, if a popular website with high authority within your niche links to you, chances are, your website is relevant as well.

To build links, you can employ white hat techniques, such as:

  • Guest blogging or posting. Guest posting entails writing for another site or blog with links back to your website. 
  • Niche edit. This link-building strategy involves adding your links to existing content pieces or replacing broken links with yours. Broken link building is a perfect example of this technique.
  • Journalist SEO outreach. This link-building technique requires pitching to media personnel. The goal is to have your brand mentioned, statement quoted, and website linked to on news stories. Think of connecting with journalists through the HARO (Help A Reporter Out) platform.
  • Online directories. This link-building tactic entails having your business listed on web directories. But while at it, you can get your page linked to your website. See the link to the Six Seven Restaurant’s website below:
  • Internal linking. This strategy involves linking your content to other web pages on your website. The goal is to create link juice or equity within your site while prompting the audiences to other content pieces for added value.

Here’s an example of a guest post on technical SEO audits on our blog.

Jolly SEO guest post on technical SEO audits

But how is link-building related to SEO, exactly? 

Link building is an online technique that falls under off-page search engine optimization.

The whole point of SEO is to position your website on top of the SERP for relevant searches to augment your online visibility and website traffic. It can go as far as increasing your lead generation and sales conversion.

Link-building is one of the many ranking factors Google uses to decide which content and pages to rank, along with website load speed, high-quality content, keyword optimization, and more.

But how does Google use link building as a search ranking factor? 

As a search engine, Google seeks to provide internet users with the most relevant and helpful search results.  

Its search algorithms used for crawling web pages and indexing sites have come a long way. 

What started as simple algorithms have turned into highly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems, such as RankBrain and Bert. 

In fact, Google recently introduced a series of algorithm updates, such as Penguin and Panda, to focus on link quality over quantity. 

Google itself cites the 5 key factors that determine its search results as follows:

Google Page: 5 Key Factors Search Results
  • Meaning: The search intent tells Google precisely what a user needs. The algorithms provide them with content pieces that answer the query. That’s why the meaning of a query does matter!
  • Relevance: The search engine algorithms find content pieces relevant to the query. That’s why keywords play a critical part in SEO!
  • Quality: After identifying relevant content, the algorithms prioritize the most useful ones. Content pieces showing expertise, authority, and trustworthiness rank higher. That’s why high-quality backlinks are vital in SEO!
  • Usability: The algorithms go beyond the content pieces and factor in the functionality of web pages. Are these pages easily accessible, mobile-friendly, or user-friendly? That’s why the UX has a say on SERP!
  • Context: The algorithms also consider the context of a query. When providing search engine results, they factor in details like the user location, search settings, and even past search history.

As you can see, the algorithms match a query’s meaning with the content’s relevance. 

The higher the quality of your content is, the higher you rank on SERP for relevant searches. 

Now, is link-building relevant to establishing your expertise, authority, and trust?

Find out what Google has to say about link building below.

What does Google say about link building’s relevance to SEO?

According to Backlinko, Google uses more than 200 ranking factors for its SERP, on top of which, the top 8 factors include backlinks.

Top 8 SEO Ranking Factors

According to Google’s own blog though, Google has become stringent with it since its Penguin update in 2012. 

The focus now is on link quality rather than quantity. 

Here’s what this means.

Google has established itself as a go-to search engine, initially putting too much value on links and anchor texts. At some point, link building had become the key to achieving higher SERP rankings.

Then, over time, various businesses across different industries started abusing link-building strategies and link-building services. 

Unfortunately, many had resorted to what we aptly call now link spam – any malicious links intended to manipulate search engine rankings. 

This prevalent problem paved the way for the inception of the Penguin algorithm

Unnatural Links to your site alert

Along with other Google updates, this algorithm was designed to identify link spam, discard low-quality backlinks, and put a value on high-quality links for SEO relevance.

Today, it looks like links generally have less impact than they were in the past. 

So, to make the most of link building for SEO, here’s the trick of the trade:

Employ link building as an authority builder, not simply as a backlink builder.

This means you must focus on link quality rather than quantity

This entails producing relevant and valuable content, generating linkable assets, and securing high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites

Those $10 for 25 backlinks services you see on Fiverr? Probably spam and will get you penalized!

Fiverr: Advertisements for SEO backlink services on a digital marketplace, promoting various SEO packages.

Meanwhile, high-quality guest posts, listicles, or relevant compilations can be of more help.

Two text excerpts discussing the importance of empathy and teamwork in digital marketing strategies.

In a nutshell, it all depends on the type of link-building you do.

How do you decide which links you should build for relevant SEO boosting?

Learn more about what factors to consider for your link-building strategies in the next section.

5 Factors To Consider When Doing Link Building for SEO

Link building is still relevant to SEO up to this day. But as mentioned above, only if done right.

In other words, its relevance has to do with the type of links you build.

Sure, high-quality backlinks can put your website on the SEO pedestal of success. But low-quality links can only sink your SEO efforts into the abyss.

So when pulling off your link-building campaign, heed the rule of thumb: 

Focus on white hat link-building to earn high-quality backlinks for long-term SEO success. 

Factors you should be looking at when evaluating link-building relevance to SEO include:

  • Domain authority.
  • Page authority.
  • Site or niche relevance.
  • Link quality.
  • Spammy links.

1. Domain authority 

Looking to earn backlinks for your SEO campaign? 

Don’t just acquire links from any websites. Instead, aim to secure relevant backlinks from authoritative sites

That’s where domain authority comes into play.

Domain authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz to predict how likely a website is to rank high in search engine result pages. 

DA score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater likelihood of ranking.

For example, if you have a domain authority of 7 and you’re trying to rank for a competitive SEO keyword, only to see websites with 90+ DA when looking at the search results, it’s very unlikely you’ll rank.

Because those websites already have an established authority, whereas, you don’t.

To find out your (or any other website’s) domain authority for free, you can use Moz, Ahrefs, Semrush, or any other SEO tool.

Moz: Jolly SEO Overview Metrics.

Again, the higher the better.

But you shouldn’t be looking at DA alone when evaluating link-building’s relevance to SEO.

2. Page authority 

This is like DA but for the standalone, specific page you’re getting a backlink from.

You don’t only pay attention to the website in general; you also factor in the web page for SEO linking. 

While DA is the link metric used for examining website authority, page authority (PA) measures how well a particular page might rank on SERP.

The goal here is to get a backlink from a web page with a high PA

You can check the PA using MOZ’s authority checker tool. Let’s check one of Jolly SEO’s pages as an example:

MOZ’s authority checker tool with jolly seo link pages and PA numbers

Again, the higher the number, the better here, when looking at link-building relevance.

A website might have a high DA but a low PA. Meaning, if you’re getting a link from a low PA webpage, it’s probably not very optimized, high-quality, or relevant when it comes to your SEO.

Here are some other factors to decide link-building relevance.

3. Site relevance 

This one gets a little tricky. Site relevance isn’t necessarily a link metric used to gauge your SEO performance. 

However, it might be one of the most important link-building factors when it comes to SEO relevance.

The idea is that you want a link from a niche-relevant website.

Of course, you want to earn backlinks straight from sites belonging to your industry. Doing so tells Google you’ve truly earned, not just bought them.

Be wary: Google algorithms have become smarter than ever before. 

Think about link farms, websites mainly created for linking and ranking. When discovered, they can get penalized by Google. 

See those sites catering to multiple industries? 

You might want to avoid them for your link-building efforts.

They’re blogging about everything from cybersecurity, gym injuries, and travel destinations.

Link Farm's website with blogs covering cybersecurity, gym injuries, and travel destinations.

A backlink from there would NOT be relevant for your SEO, even if they have high DA and PA.

Similarly, you would not publish a guest post on a blog about tech to gain a backlink to your gardening blog.

It’s just not relevant!

Meanwhile, if you own a blog about marketing, a backlink from a blog that focuses on social media is relevant!

4. Link quality 

After considering the site and page where you’ll earn backlinks, it’s time to focus on the link quality itself. 

But the question is: How do you measure link quality?

Here are some other link metrics to consider for SEO relevance:

  • Do-follow vs no-follow links: Do-follow links pass authority (“link juice”) from one website to another, while a no-follow link does not.
  • Overall website traffic: Before you build links from any website, you’ll want to gain an overview of what their overall organic traffic looks like through any SEO tool. If their organic traffic plummeted like this, chances are, they got hit with a penalty and you don’t want a backlink from there.
A screenshot of an SEO analytics dashboard showing a website's traffic, backlink, and keyword performance with a peak in January 2022
  • Anchor text: The text that is linked should be descriptive and relevant to the content on the website receiving the link.
  • Placement: Ideally, the backlink you receive should be placed in a prominent location on the website, such as a high-traffic, relevant blog post.

5. Spammy links 

Spammy links are a big no-no for your SEO campaign

These are black hat link-building techniques since they involve manipulating links solely for ranking. 

When discovered, your website can get penalized or, worse, banned from Google.

Link spam is a dime a dozen in the SEO realm that can take a hit on your SERP ranking. 

Think of link-buying, excessive link exchanges, automated link generation, and more. Make sure to avoid them at all costs!

For your reference, look at the examples of link spam as defined by Google.

Informational text describing what constitutes link spam and various manipulative linking practices that Google considers to be spam

Examples of link spam might include “too good to be true” link-building. Such as receiving 25, 90 DA backlinks only for $50.

How To Build Links Relevant To SEO

So, to recap, is link building still relevant to SEO?

The answer is yes.

Link-building remains a crucial part of SEO. Backlinks tell how authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy your website is right before the eyes of search engines and internet users. 

However, here’s the catch: Link building can make or break your SEO.

To make it work, employ white hat tactics, such as guest posting, journalist outreach, digital PR, linkable assets, niche edits, or internal linking. 

On the contrary, avoid gray and black hat techniques, like excessive link exchanges, content syndication, link farms, automated link generation, and private blog networks (PBNs).

By wearing the white hat in link building, you’ll be amazed at how your website will climb the SEO ladder over time and eventually take the top spot in SERP!

Can link-building work wonders for your SEO? Let us unravel the ‘SEO magic’ for you!

Here at Jolly SEO, we offer NextGen (HARO-style link building), Journalist Outreach (journalist connections and pitching), and White Hat Linkbuilding (guest blogging). Yes, we never buy backlinks; we always earn them!

Ready to kick your SEO up a notch through white hat link building? Get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

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