Are Links Still Important in SEO?

SEO is consistently evolving with algorithms that change all the time. This dynamism poses a significant challenge for those who capitalise on SEO for marketing. One mistake is the assumption that using links is no longer relevant in SEO yet now more than ever, link building remains an inherent part of what makes SEO successful.

What is the importance of links for search engines?

Links are essential for search engines because it is their way of gaining confidence that your website has high-quality content. Links from relevant sources with similar, high-quality content will give your site higher chances of ranking high for the keywords you want to target.

While it is true that major search engines like Google spread some contradicting information about link-building, the truth is that it remains a significant part of the existing algorithm used to rank websites competitively in search results. What Google warns business owners against is to stop using spam-like tactics containing low-quality content to try and manipulate search engine results.

Effective use of links

Using links is highly correlated to page ranking, but it does not always mean that using links is the primary cause why pages rank high. If your website has a solid inbound link profile, it is possible for individual site pages to have high ranking despite not relying on links. The conclusion here is that if you focus on strengthening your inbound site ranking, the effect will trickle down to the other pages on your website. However, if you want to maximise the impact, links pointing to individual pages is more effective.

If you intend to highlight obscure phrases, links may no longer be necessary. But in using phrases and keywords, you need to make sure that they are non-competitive in any way as if several companies are using the same keyword or phrases, perhaps it is better for your website to focus on inbound links instead. Using inbound links will help improve your website’s SEO and also ensure that your site is not invisible on Google and other search engines.

What lies ahead for search and link-building?

SEO experts are looking forward into the future and what is in store for link-building. There are two possible routes that search engines could take in the future which affects search results. Each of these directions still poses some difficulties.

There have been many speculations that Google is already starting to use social media data to determine ranking. There was a study showing the positive connection between Facebook user shares and higher ranking of websites and pages. But on the other hand, the likely reason for more top ranking is not social media shares but the other way around. These web pages that rank high are also shareable on social media channels.

One of the reasons why search engines cannot depend on social media data is the susceptibility to manipulation. A known drawback of social media is how easy it is for spamming to occur, and if search engines rely on social media data, it would be harder to control and mitigate spamming.

Another speculation is that search engines are tweaking their algorithms to accommodate machine learning. If this happens in its entirety and Google eliminates human input, it is likely that the algorithm used to rank websites will start using factors that are not relevant to the content or the site being ranked. Losing control is probably one of the reasons why it is highly unlikely for Google to depend entirely on machine learning.

The bottom line is, link-building will remain important in SEO and will continue to be essential in the coming years. When links are appropriately built, creating inbound links to your website is an effective and safe technique in improving your website’s search presence.

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About the Author: Emma Fletcher