Link Building is Still Important for SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | January 16, 2015

Google is the world’s most used search engine. More people use it each day to find everything from nearby plumbers to deals on groceries and electronics. This makes it perfect for business, which is why nearly every website could benefit from ranking highly for high-traffic keywords.

The problem is that there’s some confusion about how to go about ranking highly in search engines. New updates to Google, which are the kind of updates that other search engines tend to follow, have left website owners under the impression that link building is dead.

The truth is that link building is just as important today as it was when Google started as a search engine. The only difference now is how you go about building those links.

Let’s examine why link building is still important, and why it needs to be performed for a business to become successful.

An Archaic Mindset

The one thing that tends to be confusing about link building is the innate purpose of links. They existed originally to help visitors to websites locate additional resources that they might find useful, but their meaning has been warped over time.

The confusion that links are no longer worth building stems from the way search engines originally used them to decide upon how authoritative a website was.

When Google first began, links were much like votes. Each vote was equal, which led to Google implementing a way to describe how authoritative sources were when they noticed how spammers and other manipulative entities were abusing links.

This is when PageRank came into the picture. It was the first time websites were measured for authority rather than individual pages.

Since then, other ways to describe how reliable links are have been put into practice. The “200 factors” that Google is ascribed to use is just one example, as there are other complex processes involved that judge how the relationship between even distant websites is computed.

The problem in all this is that the initial “popular vote” idea has cemented the mindset of website owners and SEO experts alike in a way that means all types of links are equally valuable. This has changed with the various updates, the most recent of which includes the Google Penguin updates that specifically target link profiles.

These updates have led to a small fraction of website rankings to change. Practices that were once profitable for gaining traction in search engines have become invalidated, which has led many people to believe that link building is obsolete. They couldn’t be more wrong.

The Purpose of Links for SEO

The thing to understand about links is that they do more than simply give a page more traction in search engines. They build domain authority, make it easier for other pages to rank organically, and help to provide a steady stream of traffic that exists independently of search engines.

These things are crucial to SEO as a whole, as websites are evaluated as entities for authority rather than individual pages for trust.

This means that link building is still just important, if not more, as it was when search engines were in their primordial stage. It allows you to build up your website like you would a public figure. Every inbound link is an independent verification of how reputable your pages are.

That means the most reputable websites tend to repeatedly have pages that rank the highest.

There are other benefits to link building, each of which has an effect on SEO. The best way to understand these effects is on a grand scale due to their interlinked natures.

When link building occurs in a way that is natural and includes high-quality material, it leads to positive public relations. This makes visitors into customer, and further establishes your website as an authority source. It can even lead to positive social networking factors.

All these things lead to higher rankings. Another reason that businesses need to build links rather than to rely on them naturally is that this allows you to have better control over how your website’s link profile is created. This makes your website safer from future algorithm updates, and it can make it easier to respond to large changes in search engine algorithms or manual penalties placed against your website.

Smart Businesses Build Strong Links

Links provide traffic, authority, and numerous other things that are crucial to a business’s success in search engines. A website without inbound links will ultimately be left at the mercy of search engines, but one that builds a strong profile will be able to shelter any storm that search engines might force it to weather.

That means the smartest businesses rely on building link profiles filled with related and quality sources. Anything less than that will eventually lead to disasters born from foolhardy mistakes.