To Backlink or Not To Backlink in 2015?

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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Are backlinks essential to a high SEO ranking? Ask most marketers and they will probably answer yes. Backlinks are important, but the emphasis should be on the quality of the link, not the quantity.

A backlink is a link from an external website that brings a user to your webpage. Having links to your page has always been seen as good thing, and a sure-fire way to get your rankings up. Almost all SEO consultants will affirm the power of backlinks, yet in 2015 it’s not as simple as it used to be. So the questions is: to backlink or not to backlink?

When it comes to backlinks, quality counts

A few years ago the idea of linking to a website was a revolutionary concept based on a solid simple theory that “backlinks should be natural”. To put it simply, your site would have a backlink because it provides relevant and useful content. Somewhere along the line this concept got fuzzy, thanks to spammers and marketers who wanted a high number of backlinks, no matter what the content. When people started to pay for backlinks, it propelled Matt Cutts (Head of Google’s Webspam team) to announce a foreshadowing of the downgrade of backlinks back in 2013.

“Google tends to look at buying and selling links that pass PageRank as a violation of our guidelines and if we see that happening multiple times, repeated times, then the actions we take get more and more severe… So we’re more willing to take stronger action whenever we see repeated violations,” Cutts stated.

Ever wonder why so many old search engines went bankrupt or ran at a loss in market shares? How Google was able to overtake AOL back in the day? It’s because Google’s prime goal has always been to deliver high quality sites with their search engines more often (and with more updates) than their competitors.

Today, paying for backlinks won’t cut it and will even lead to Google penalising you.

So the question remains: to backlink or not in 2015?

The answer is yes…BUT (and this is a paramount but), all marketers must go back and abide by the initial positive concept of backlinking: backlinks should be natural. It’s that simple. The key to better linking is to have natural links. Unnatural links will harm your ranking in Google’s search engine and sites that are penalised due to poor SEO backlinks will have a hard time rebuilding their reputations on search engines, as a recent Google study on MOZ found.

So what makes up a trusted quality link?

  • Online media sources that are credible and updated
  • Influential bloggers in your given industry
  • Getting onto qualified/reputable online directories
  • Putting some real time effort into your public relations
  • A constant presence via social media

In closing

Bottom line: it’s not about the volume (quantity) of backlinks, it’s about the content (quality) of the site that links to your site.

Although many SEO consultants might still strongly believe that it’s the volume of backlinks that will give you ranking, it’s clear that Google will continue to alter its algorithm to favour quality links over their quantity. So backlink away, but do it right.

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