Getting noticed in a competitive online industry is becoming more difficult with Google changing the script on organic ranking almost daily. That’s not all that surprising. Google wants to serve only the best results to the searcher. It wants your website to be useful, specific and just what the searcher is looking for at that moment. However, business owners and marketers have to work hard for that coveted No.1 position on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Publishers can improve their search rank by focusing on two things: 1) the content that they publish, and; 2) the backlinks that content earns from other reputable websites in the industry.
Content is still king, but it's the backlinks that you need to be focusing on if you want your website to generate leads and, ultimately, revenue.
Here are the four reasons why backlinks are still important, and why having a solid link-building strategy is essential for every business website:
- High organic rankings are very dependent on quality backlinks
- A good backlinking strategy helps Google discover your content faster
- Backlinks can help you drive traffic to your website
- They boost your online reputation and brand awareness
Backlinks play an important role in organic ranking.
Although most SEO professionals would argue that it's all about quality when it comes to backlinks, numerous studies have found a strong correlation between a large number of referring domains (different websites linking to one site) and high organic rankings.
Backlinko's Brian Dean and his team analyzed more than 1 million Google search results. When discussing their findings, Dean goes as far as to suggest that backlinks might be the most important thing that Google looks at when deciding which website to rank at the top of the SERPs. His conclusion is supported by research from other industry giants.
Essentially, backlinks still serve the same purpose they served back in 2005 – they are votes cast by other websites in favor of your website. While Google's focus and reliance on them have diminished in the last couple of years, they are still the most reliable ranking factor that is under the partial influence of website owners.
Backlinks help Google find and index your new content.
To rank in Google's SERPs, your content first needs to be discovered by the Googlebot. It helps to think of Googlebot as a surveyor and websites as real estate in development, but at a huge scale. The surveyor goes around, marking new properties and putting them on the map, so to speak.
If a website is not crawled and indexed (discovered and mapped), there's no way for it to rank for the keywords it's trying to rank for. It's just not anywhere on the map. Each new website and every bit of new content placed on old websites needs to be crawled and indexed by the Googlebot. This takes a lot of time sometimes, depending on whether or not Google is prioritizing your website.
To get around this waiting period, you can simply build quality backlinks on authority websites and news websites that get a lot of daily traffic. These websites are high on Google's list of priorities and get crawled daily.
If you manage to get a link from one of them to your newly published content, the Googlebot will follow that link (and every other link on subsequent pages) and get to your website sooner than it had intended. In essence, your website is now queue-jumping, and your content is getting indexed faster because of the backlinks that you've earned for it.
Backlinks drive qualified traffic to your website.
The whole point of ranking higher in the search engine results pages is to get more eyeballs to your website. The more people see it, the more visits you get, and your chances of landing a sale or monetizing via ads increase.
Backlinks themselves have the potential to drive qualified traffic to your website, especially if they are placed in content that's published on high-traffic sites relevant to your niche.
Not only are you getting a chance to impress a potential new client that way, but the steady stream of traffic coming your way now is another signal to the Google algorithm that your content is high quality and valuable enough for others to recommend it. How you turn that traffic into leads (and, eventually, into deals), is another matter, but you're closer to it know that they've been introduced by a trusted source.
Backlinking strategies help you build online reputation and brand awareness.
Since backlinks are, essentially, a vote of confidence given by one website to another, they can greatly impact how your brand is perceived by potential customers. Link-building strategies, such as expert roundups and guest blogging, get your name in front of large audiences that might never have heard of you otherwise. Just by associating with industry giants through links and mentions, you'll start to be regarded as one.
If you play your cards right and get backlinked mentions on authority websites in your industry, you will notice that you have to work less and less on subsequent high-quality links. Other experts will notice your guest posts and features, and they'll reach out to you for quotes and potential blogging opportunities, which will result in more backlinks and more clout.
Step up your backlinking game.
In the online marketing and organic rankings game, it's true that content is still king. It's also true that backlinks are not as powerful as they used to be. To ignore them completely – or leave them to chance – would still be a huge mistake.
Think of backlinks as the lifeblood of your online marketing efforts. They have the power to push your content to the top of the SERPs, establish you as an industry thought leader and drive (almost) free traffic to your website. When done right, backlinks can transform your lukewarm business endeavor into a big success.
Creating an online empire requires you to break a sweat every now and again, and if you're doing it by building backlinks, you're doing it the right way.