Are Backlinks Still Important for Website Ranking?
There are many SEOs that say that you should not worry about backlinks while another group says that they are one of the key factors in search engine ranking. Those that follow the latter group believe they should be busy in building a backlink profile while those in the first group believe they should be developing quality content and distributing it to attract links. So the real question is how important are backlinks to your website ranking?
Brian Dean wrote an excellent article identifying what the felt are the factors that Google uses to determine a websites ranking. Of the 205 factors he mentions, 68 or 1/3 of those factors are related to links in some way.
MOZ produced a great article and infographic that reflects the results of a survey they conducted with they what they refer to as “150 of the world’s brightest search marketers”. The survey asked them to provide their opinions on 90 rankings factors and the results or their survey show the most influential factors. It is interesting that of the top 9 factors, 2 of them (the top 2) are again related to links. The below image is from the infrographic referenced above.
It appears that the top minds in our business believe that backlinks still carry a lot of weight in search engine rankings but what is most important is what the future holds. Many of those surveyed feel that links will continue to hold an important position in ranking factors while those aspects about links that have already been identified as causing problems will continue to decline in importance. Paid links and anchor text influence are the two main factors that fall into this category. The point to take from all of this is that backlinks will continue into the foreseeable future being important factors in determining search engine ranking. The key is that backlink need to be natural (you don’t build them) and earned. This will require much more work in distribution of quality content to ensure that it is seen and can attract links. I am one that believes that the idea of creating great content and then distributing it over various platforms will, over time, develop a high quality backlink profile and improve search engine ranking for any website. Remember that the real purpose of backlinks is to provide a path to your website from sites that are more apt to send them to you and purchase your product of service. If they are not sending you traffic they are a waste of your time and money.