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Is Backlinking Still Important?

October 2018

The reason that search engine optimization is such a challenge for many businesses or site owners is that it is extremely complicated. SEO isn’t about mastering one strategy or technique. On the contrary, when deciding how websites will rank on its search result pages, Google considers roughly 200 different factors. From keywords to site speed to mobile-friendliness and beyond, so many different variables can have an impact on how your page ranks. Traditionally, one of the most oft-discussed of these factors was backlinking. The question is, does backlinking even still matter in 2018?

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Backlinks: A History
In the early days, backlinks were the easiest way to achieve a top search engine ranking. Having links pointing to your website from dozens or hundreds of other pages around the web was a way to tell search engines that your site was relevant, important, informative, and popular. Since all these things are characteristics that search engines still want to recognize with their search rankings, it made sense for backlinks to get the emphasis they did.

Over time, though, websites started abusing the fondness that search engines had for backlinks. Site owners would do anything they could to scatter their links throughout the web, even if the links were irrelevant, misleading, or worthy of being called “spam.” These tactics eventually became part of what is now known as “Black Hat SEO.” Google penalized the websites guilty of excessive backlink building, and the SEO industry corrected. Today, Google still uses backlinks to tell it which content is helpful or high-quality. However, if you were to use one of the shady services that offer to get you a thousand backlinks for your site in the space of a day, you can bet that Google would find out and penalize your site accordingly.

Backlinks in 2018
This narrative brings us to 2018, and to the question of whether or not backlinks still matter.
On the one hand, honest and genuine backlinks are probably easier to create today than ever before. Sharing links to content on social media; updating company details on sites such as Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, local chambers of commerce, and more; working to create outreach posts on third-party websites. Each of these strategies can net you a high-quality backlink (or several high-quality backlinks) to your site. On the other hand, most businesses are using these same strategies, which means that a good backlink doesn’t have the power today that it had in 1998.

The verdict is that backlinks do still matter, even if they will never matter as much as they did in the early days of the web. You can’t afford to focus your campaign on backlinks at the expense of site design, page navigation, content quality, or any of the other 200 factors that Google considers when ranking your website. Still, building quality links on websites relevant to yours can and will give you a small but valuable boost on Google’s rankings.

At Inherent, we can help you build backlinks for your site in a wholly honest and organic matter. Contact us today to learn more.