Some SEOs claim that you can rank well on Google without any backlinks, but is there any truth to that?
In this article, we’re going to explain all about the importance of backlinks in 2022 and whether you still need link-building for your website to rank well.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is a Backlink?
A backlink, also known as an inbound or incoming link, is a link from one website to another. For example, let’s say a finance blogger found your article on budgeting particularly interesting, so they linked to it from their own blog post—that’s a backlink.
It should be noted, though, that backlinks are not the same as “internal links.” An internal link is when you link to your own content on your own website. E.g. your blog post about “journal entries” links to another of your posts about “bookkeeping 101.”
Why are Backlinks Important?
For Google, backlinks are a voucher of trust. When one website links to another, Google sees this as the first website saying “this site is legitimate and can be trusted.”
Backlinks have always been one of the most important factors Google looks at when evaluating whether a page should rank #1 or, say, #29.
As such, in addition to having high-quality content on your website, it’s also important to build backlinks.
How Important Are Backlinks, Exactly?
Backlinks are very important for your website’s organic growth.
If you’re in a competitive niche, e.g. VPNs, Finance, Insurance, and the like, then a strong backlink profile is basically the only way you can rank on Google. If you look at the top-ranking articles for the keyword “best VPN,” for example, you’ll see that most of them have a ton of backlinks:
If you want your website to stand a chance at competing with them, you’ll need to get a similar number of backlinks.
Overall, in competitive niches, everyone has quality content and well-designed, fast websites. As such, backlinks are what Google looks at to decide what pages or websites should rank well.
But “what if you’re not in a competitive niche?” you might ask.
Well, if you’re an accountant looking to rank in, say, Bournemouth, then backlinks are optional.
In such a case, you’ll be able to rank even with minimal backlinks. However, the backlinks are still going to be what determines whether you rank in 6 months or a year.
How to Evaluate a Backlink?
Not all backlinks are created equal.
A backlink from Forbes, for example, is going to carry a lot more weight than a link from your girlfriend’s cooking blog.
Here are several factors you can look at when evaluating how much a given backlink is worth:
- Topical Relevance. If your website is about, say, online marketing, then your backlinks should also be from websites that are at least semi-related to online marketing. If you get a backlink from a post about “Top 21 Cooking Tips” to an article about “PPC Advertising,” then the link won’t be worth anything.
- Website Traffic. While not a ranking factor, a website’s traffic can be a good indicator of how well they’re regarded by Google.
- Whether the Site is a Link Farm. If a website sells backlinks, Google is likely to devalue their backlinks.
- Region of the Website. If you’re trying to rank your law firm in Boston, you wouldn’t get much out of a backlink from a website with traffic primarily from, say, Paris.
- If the Link is Do-Follow or No-Follow. No-follow links don’t carry any link juice, and as such, don’t have any impact on your website’s rankings.
Are Backlinks Still Important in 2022?
Backlinks are as important as ever in 2022.
While it is possible to rank without active link-building, backlinks are still:
- The deciding factor on whether or not you’ll rank in a competitive niche.
- The most important factor in deciding when your website will start ranking.
As such, we recommend including link-building as part of your SEO strategy in 2022 and onwards.
#1. What’s the difference between do-follow and no-follow backlinks?
A no-follow link is a type of link that doesn’t carry any link juice, and hence, has no effect on your rankings.
Most social media links (i.e. Facebook, Reddit, etc.), are no-follow links, and as such, don’t have any impact on your rankings.
Sometimes, website owners mark some of their outgoing links as “no-follow” if they don’t want to be associated with the website they’re linking to.
#2. What are effective ways to build backlinks?
There are dozens of link-building strategies you can use, some of the most popular ones being:
- Niche edits. Reaching out to bloggers and asking them to place a link to your site in one of their existing articles.
- Guest posting. Reaching out to bloggers and pitching a guest post on their blog (with links to your website).
- Using link-building services. Don’t have the time to do your own link-building? We offer link-building services!
- Link exchanges. Reaching out to bloggers or website owners and asking for a backlink exchange (you link to them, they link to you).
#3. How many backlinks should I build?
As many as possible, as long as the backlinks you’re building are legitimate. Link farms or PBNs are going to do more harm than good to your website’s rankings.
Rule of thumb, it’s safe to build ten to 30 backlinks per day.
#4. Can you have too many backlinks?
If you’re building legitimate backlinks from real websites, then no. If you’re buying hundreds of links off of some scammer on Fiverr, then yes.
#5. Do web 2.0 backlinks work?
No, web 2.0 backlinks do not work. If you build links from, say, Reddit or forum comments, then those links will be no-follow and won’t have any impact.
If you create a blog on Medium, for example, the links WILL be do-follow, but they won’t carry much weight because that blog has no link profile.