The True Value of Links in SEO

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This blog post is contributed by Lisa Morton on behalf of

The views of contributors are their own, and not necessarily those of Rankingelite.

Word on the grapevine all over the industry is that link building is slowly but surely losing its value as an SEO component, consistently delivering a lower ROI than in months gone by. This is of course centered on the theory that Google’s algorithm changes – most recently Google Penguin – have brought along a series of rethinks as to the real value of backlinks with more focus being diverted elsewhere than ever before.

However, logically speaking there’s really nothing to gain from writing off the value of link building altogether as there’s no concrete evidence whatsoever to suggest that back links are no longer benefiting their respective websites. Quite to the contrary in fact, there is plenty of evidence pointing to a long and stable future of backlinks continuing to offer value on multiple levels – it’s just a case of getting them right in the first place.

When you take a look at the benefits link building can offer a website, it’s pretty clear why the premise as a whole won’t be going anywhere in the near future. For example:

  • Backlinks drive organic traffic as well as benefiting an SEO strategy – something that counts double for those links housed on relevant sites of authority with high traffic volumes. 
  • All links can be exceptionally valuable in terms of branding and getting a name or message out. The more links of value placed across high-authority areas of the web, the more readers will become familiar with the brand or name it represents. 
  • Along with the all-important crawlers themselves, an abundance of links will also help actual readers and potential customers find a site and its content. 
  • And of course, high-quality links still help a site score points with Google and most other major search engines to improve results rankings and exposure

Industry professionals have largely confirmed that the value of link building as a pure SEO tool remains high and can deliver great results in the right hands. This has been proven by way of many businesses and website still focusing the vast majority of the SEO efforts around link building and noticing very little, if any detrimental changes to their resulting rankings. Of course, this kind of narrow focus is never recommended as a long-term strategy, but nonetheless goes to prove that link building is still of significant value.

As far as getting it right is concerned, sufficient time has passed to assess the kinds of filters Google Penguin may have enforced to clamp down on black-hat link building practices. Examples include:

  • Source Quality – Penguin is thought to have bolstered efforts to reward links placed on sites of quality and heavily penalize those to the contrary. 
  • Good Vs. Bad – Another key change is that of greater scrutiny when it comes to how many good backlinks a site has compared to how many neutral or negative links are in place. 
  • Site Relevance – The extent to which the backlink hosting site is relevant is now thought to count for more than ever before. 
  • Volume – Penguin is also said to have imposed stricter limits on backlink quantities as a means by which to discourage and penalize spamming. 
So as with much of the SEO process, it’s simply a case of following the rules theoretically put in place by industry analysts and extracting the extraordinary value from backlinks – value that for the time being at least can be counted on.

Joseph Gojo Cruz is the author of RankingElite, a Philippine-based Online Marketing blog. Joseph has been working in SEO industry for over 3 years from website audit, link and content development, social media and search engine optimization. Connect with Joseph on Google+Twitter, and Facebook. Joseph is also a contributor on SEJ and Ahrefs.