To Link Build or not Link Build – That is the Question!
Is link building a requirement of high SEO rankings? Should your business regularly pursue link building when you need a boost to traffic? The answer seems to vary as link building is a technique that goes from popular to obsolete as a concept every half a year or so. As a top web development firm, we wanted to dive in and discuss to link build or not link build; how effective is it really?
To be fair, we have touted the value of link building for years. It has been a stable, consistent SEO strategy which has provided value for both rankings and traffic. But does that make it the best choice for a business?
A quick recap of link building
The term link building means obtaining hyperlinks from other websites to your website. This link is a simple way for users to navigate between pages on the internet, regardless of if they are on the same website or not. Search providers such as Google and Yahoo crawl the web, which includes the links on a site and between sites.
Search engines consider links between sites in a very specific manner. Originally the number of links from other sites to a site was an important part of a page’s overall rank because links were looked at as a vote of confidence from one website to another. Of course, people took advantage of this basic concept, so the considerations changed over time to counteract unscrupulous activities using links to gain rank.
While Google keeps the specifics of their search algorithm a secret, including how exactly link building is measured and weighed, the general idea is that the more links from higher-quality sites you have, the better it will reflect on the value your site provides. That in turn helps a site gain higher rankings and more traffic.
When link building is important
High-quality backlinks are still a valuable commodity for gaining high search engine results page ranking (SERP). However not every business will obtain the same benefit from focusing on this endeavor.
Who should focus on link building:
- New websites
- Sites with few or no backlinks
- Sites with numerous low-quality backlinks
Pages that rank on the first page of Google SERPs typically have at least one high-quality backlink and most have quite a few. New websites along with sites that either has few links or few high-quality links should take the time to focus at least somewhat on link building until you have a couple of good or really good links.
This will help improve the level of your website’s authority in a particular area.
Sites that already have a lot of good links or sites that already have a great deal of authority will not benefit as much from spending more time building links compared to focusing on other SEO tactics. There is a certain amount of diminishing returns with link building where your ROI reduces with this technique.
When link building isn’t important
How do you know if your site has a strong enough backlink profile that you should invest time on other SEO concepts? The first step is to check your site’s Domain Authority. The DA is a numerical score that describes the relevance of a website within a specific industry or area.
This score is a representation of a website’s rank strength and can be compared against other sites.
There are a few useful tools which can be used to check Domain Authority:
- MozBar – As Moz invented the DA scoring model, it makes sense they would have a tool available to check it.
- Ahrefs – A multi-purpose SEO tool that uses Domain Rating and URL Rating rather than Moz’s Domain Authority and Page Authority.
- Majestic – A very large link index database and offers historical data analysis.
You should compare your rank versus your competitors and then consider the number of backlinks you would need to generate if you wanted to catch or move past any of the competition. While reviewing links it can be worthwhile to check for broken incoming links or clusters of links coming from the same IP which could be optimized for better rankings.
Other techniques to improve SEO
Rather than link building, what can a website do to improve their SEO? There are a few relatively simple tactics that should be employed on a regular basis:
- Content audit – Low performing pieces of content drag the overall quality of a website down. Performing a content audit helps identify those content pieces which can be removed or possibly improved. In some cases, multiple pieces of content can be combined to provide better overall value.
- Internal link audit – Links within a site provide value in addition to allowing users to go from one page to another. A good link architecture ensures that pages which receive a good amount of search and link traffic are linked to pages with good conversion rates. It is also important to remove excessive internal links to low priority pages and increase links to top pages such as product pages. This will allow Google and other search engines to understand which pages should have a higher value.
- Improve strategic content – Strategic content is very specific in that is uses both mid and long-tail keywords and provides value to users by educating them and building trust. Examples include researcher sections, infographics, blog posts, or product/buying guides. This helps capture traffic from specific keywords which are in addition to the fundamental keywords for your business/industry.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that to link build or not link build depends a lot on the current level of Domain Authority a website has. For those who rank low, link building is a great way to increase SERP rankings and increase traffic. Those sites which already have a high level of authority, on the other hand, would benefit from exploring other SEO concepts, such as the three we mentioned, to improve SEO and increase web traffic.
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