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Does Link Building Still Work?

Jun 28, 2024

Written by Casey Bjorkdahl

Profile Picture Casey Bjorkdahl of https://www.vazoola.com

Casey Bjorkdahl is one of the pioneering thought leaders in the SEO community. In 2010, Casey co-founded Vazoola after working for a Digital Marketing Agency for five years in New York City. Vazoola is now one of the fastest growing and most widely recognized SEO marketing firms in the country.

Does Link Building Still Work?

To build links or not to build links, that is the question faced by SEO professionals and website operators around the world. 

The topic is surely contentious with differing opinions throughout the industry. But, what exactly is link building, and how can beginners use it to boost their search engine ranks?

Simply put, link building describes any actions taken to increase both the number and quality of backlinks to a webpage in order to boost the search engine rankings of the website.

Why, you might be asking, does the answer to this all-too-common question matter, and why is link building important?

Our experience at Vazoola has shown us that search engine optimization doesn’t come free, and budget constraints often require the most efficient processes. 

It’s likewise important to invest enough for positive impacts, while it’s equally as necessary to maximize the return on SEO investment. 

what is link building

Key Takeaways:

  • Link building is still an important element of SEO, and Google provides guidelines on how to benefit from the practice. Studies support the usefulness of link building in the world of SEO. 

  • Link building also has its disadvantages in the realm of SEO. Google’s evolving algorithm could update in a way that penalizes certain aspects of link building. 

  • Some link building tactics, including paid links, excessive reciprocal links, and links from low-quality websites, can result in rank-harming penalties.

  • Link building best practices in 2024 revolve around quality, value and a positive user experience 

  • Sometimes link building is not a top priority. Such is the case for new websites, local businesses and those with specific budget constraints. 

  • Link building is still very much relevant in 2024, but that could change as Google changes its algorithm.

  • The use of artificial intelligence could mark the future of link building, but it remains to be seen whether or not the technological tool will boost or hinder search ranking. 

Table of Contents

How Important is Link Building for SEO?

importance of link building

What is the importance of SEO link building?

Ample argument can be made in support of link building for SEO. While it can seem like an arduous task that might or might not work, link builders can gain some insight into its value by noting Google’s stance on the topic.

According to its own statements, Google considers SEO a beneficial strategy for enhancing site visibility and boosting search rankings. However, this only applies with adherence to Google’s guidelines. These guidelines include instructions to create high-quality, valuable content and a user-friendly, accessible website.

Further, Google discourages manipulative SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing and buying links, which can ultimately lead to damaging penalties. 

How important is link building?

Studies support the value of backlinks to SEO, and we happen to agree. 

According to a Backlinko study of 11.8 million Google search results, a site’s overall link authority – as measured by Ahrefs – “strongly correlates with higher rankings.” In fact, the same study found that Google’s No. 1 search result boasts an average of 3.8 times more backlinks than those pages in positions 2-10. 

Of course, link building carries more benefits than mere search rankings. At Vazoola, we’ve found that greater visibility greatly increases the potential for higher traffic, and designing user-friendly web pages helps build trust and authority within a niche. 

Is Link Building Dead? What Types of Links Remain Valuable?

Just as arguments can be made in support of link building, one can also find arguments against link building. 

Despite Google’s previous statements on the topic, changing algorithms focusing on manipulative and spammy tactics that once worked have made some SEO professionals think twice about continued use of the link building strategy.

At Vazoola, we agree those concerns aren’t without merit. Google continues to adjust its algorithms, further cracking down on what it considers low-quality links. At the same time, acquiring high quality links can be a complex endeavor that some no longer find worthwhile. 

Still, for many, link building remains alive and well as a reliable SEO tactic. The key lies in nuance as not every link is created equally, and they won’t all benefit a website. But how can you know the difference? 

valuable backlink types

Fortunately, a few key qualities can help you determine if building a link is a worthwhile endeavor. Remember the following link qualities that are beneficial to SEO:

  • High-Quality, Relevant Backlinks: Links from reputable, relevant sites within your industry or niche are beneficial for SEO. These sorts of  links tell search engines that your content is valuable and authoritative.

  • Editorial Links: Editorial links are those you earn naturally when other website owners or content creators link to your content because they find it useful or informative.

  • Links from Diverse, Authoritative Domains: Backlinks from a variety of trusted domains can boost both a site's credibility and its ranking.

  • Contextual Links: Naturally embedded within content, these links give readers additional, relevant information. They are more valuable than those placed in footers or sidebars.

 

On the other hand, some backlink qualities should serve as red flags, signaling that the link is not beneficial and might actually hurt a website’s search ranking. 

A few of those red flags include:

  • Paid Links: Buying links to improve your SEO violates Google's Search Essentials guidelines and can result in penalties.

  • Low-Quality Directory or Bookmark Site Links: Links from spammy directories or bookmark sites that exist solely for SEO link building also can harm your site's ranking.

  • Links from Irrelevant or Low-Quality Sites: Links from sites that are irrelevant to your content or those that are considered low-quality (think plagiarized content or excessive ads) can negatively impact your SEO.

  • Excessive Reciprocal Links: While some reciprocal linking is natural and beneficial, excessive link exchanges can be considered manipulative by search engines and lead to a ranking penalty.

  • Links with Over-Optimized Anchor Text: Using the same keyword-rich anchor text for too many links can appear manipulative to search engines, potentially leading to penalties.

Pro Tip:

high-quality content

 

Develop high-quality content that serves as a resource within your industry, such as original research, comprehensive guides, or interactive tools. Promote these linkable assets through outreach and social media to attract backlinks naturally.

The Evolved Best Practices for Link Building in 2024

So, should you build links or not? Is link building still worth it? What is the importance of organic link building?

Here at Vazoola, we’ve found that by employing certain best practices, you can find link building and SEO success in 2024.

Link Building best practices

How can you excel at link building? Stay mindful of the following tips:

  • Quality Over Quantity: When building links for SEO, be sure you focus on acquiring relevant, authoritative backlinks. 

  • Link Earning Through Value: By creating exceptional content that attracts natural links, you satisfy Google’s guidelines for link building while providing a meaningful user experience.

  • Relationship-Building and Outreach: Start your SEO and link building journey by targeting the right websites related to your niche. When contacting them, emphasize what they have to gain by adding your link.

  • Technical SEO Foundations: By ensuring your site is crawlable and indexable, your backlinks become more effective.

Pro Tip:

Networking with influencers

 

Networking with influencers, bloggers, and other website owners in your niche can lead to natural link-building opportunities. Engage with their content, offer value without expecting anything in return, and establish genuine relationships that can lead to organic backlinks and SEO.

When Link Building May NOT be the Top Priority

Link building remains alive and well as a useful SEO strategy, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the most appropriate. In certain circumstances, link building might not be the top priority.

Is link building right for you, or not? Consider the following situations that are not the right time for link building:

  • New Websites: Before you can start building quality links, it’s important to focus on your SEO foundation. Conduct technical SEO and optimize your website itself, then focus on filling pages with quality content. Once this is accomplished, you are ready to build links.

  • Local Businesses: Link building within a professional niche might not be local businesses’ best avenue for SEO success. Citations and reviews might play a bigger initial role.

  • Budget Constraints: Website operators might seek alternatives to link building if paid link placement or large-scale campaigns are prohibitive.

not an ideal strategy

Is Link Building Still Relevant to SEO?

So, exactly what is link building’s importance to SEO in 2024? 

Some might say link building is dead. But in our experience at Vazoola, they overestimate the importance of link building in SEO. The strategy remains effective and – when done properly – and can greatly benefit websites in a variety of scenarios.

However, Google’s ever-evolving algorithm requires website operators and SEO professionals to proceed with caution, remaining mindful of how the strategies have shifted over time. 

So, now that you know why link building is important, what happens next? 

While the future is as always uncertain, it’s likely that link building’s future will be shaped by advancements in artificial intelligence. The tool can potentially revolutionize the way link builders identify opportunities and create content to attract backlinks. 

Long term effort

With the help of AI-based tools, website operators can use it to analyze vast amounts of online data to identify new trends, relevant niches and potential partners. Using AI-driven content creation tools likewise could help SEO pros produce highly-targeted, valuable content that naturally attracts more backlinks. 

However, just as AI streamlines these processes, its use also could lead to more sophisticated detection of manipulative link-building practices by search engines. Resulting updates to Google’s algorithms could potentially lead to the search engine ignoring or even penalizing certain SEO’ tactics. 

This interplay between AI's capabilities and search engines' evolving algorithms will likely define the next era of SEO in the months and years to come.

Ready to embark on a fruitful link building journey? Now that you understand the importance of link building for SEO, you’re ready to begin.

We’ve provided strategies that are sure to benefit your link building efforts, and  we invite you to start by auditing your backlink profile using Vazoola’s free backlink checker

While you’re at it, don’t forget to sign up for a free demo and uncover even more SEO insights!

Pro Tip:

competitors' backlink profiles

Conduct a thorough analysis of your competitors' backlink profiles using tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush. Identify where their backlinks are coming from and target those sources to gain similar links, focusing on high-quality, authoritative sites.

 

See Similar Articles:  Link Building | Link Building Strategies

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