If you want to be president of America in 2020, you need resources, a good network, and powerful friends that can vouch for you. It’s a voting system and the logic is the same with SEO.
SEO is a popularity contest in terms of backlinks. The more backlinks you get, the more popular you are and the higher you’re going to rank.
But, how important are backlinks? Can you rank without them? Do you need to focus only on building backlinks?
In this article, I will teach the importance of backlinks when it comes to building your organic traffic.
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How Important Is Link Building For SEO?
The very short answer to that question is that backlinks are still the most important ranking factor for SEO. If you’re grinding it out and publishing loads of content but not building backlinks, then you’re wasting your time.
If you want to rank on Google, you will need more backlinks than your competitors. When you look at almost any search term or keyword, you will see that the top-ranking results are usually the ones with the most backlinks.
So, if you want to be competitive and rank first on Google, backlinks are still the most important ranking factor.
An Ahrefs study on this topic found that 91% of websites don’t rank or don’t get any traffic to their site, simply because they haven’t got any backlinks to their content.
Google has stated that building backlinks is in the top three ranking factors. From my own experience, I would say backlinks are actually the biggest priority for your site if you want to grow your SEO.
I’ve seen a lot of websites that started at zero in terms of organic traffic. But, once they started building backlinks to their site, they grew their popularity and their organic traffic blew up.
The Pareto principle uses the 80/20 rule; 20% of tasks get 80% of results. This also works in regards to link building. If you build links, that’s 20% of the work, but it’s going to get you 80% of the results.
What Are The Most Productive Things To Focus On?
Firstly, you should be focusing on backlinks, then your content, and after that you can start expanding into other SEO fields. But, if you don’t get your link building right, you’re not going to be able to compete with your top-ranking competitors.
Why is that? It comes down to external validation that your content is good. It’s like getting a certification from other websites to acknowledge that you have high quality, credible, and authoritative content. Backlinks are a big factor in this validation.
If you just have a website and you publish loads of content, but you don’t have anyone else linking to you, this probably means that other webmasters don’t trust your content enough to link to it.
Therefore, people will assume that your content isn’t authoritative, credible, or trustworthy, and it won’t rank highly on Google. Simply because user experience is a huge factor in Google’s attempt to improve their results.
Google wants its users to have the best experience when it comes to search results. If users are being directed to low-quality content, Google’s user experience ratings are going to drop.
This is why backlinks have always been one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to SEO. If you can find very low competition keywords, there is a big chance you may be able to rank for them. But this is the exception, not the rule.
Low Competition Keywords Are Rare
If you can find some low competition keywords, potentially you can rank for them. But at the same time, low competition keywords are very hard to find.
That’s why I always recommend building backlinks to your site, whatever industry you’re in. This applies to pretty much every single niche and industry that you’re working in.
As I said, most of the time, if you look at the top-ranking results, they’re going to have backlinks to their content unless it’s a very low competition keyword.
So if you want to rank for a worthwhile keyword, you absolutely need backlinks to your site. Most of the time if you don’t have backlinks, you’re not going to rank. But does that mean you should only focus on building backlinks and nothing else when it comes to SEO? Maybe you just want to focus on the 80/20 rule.
The Quality Of Your Content Matters Too
Backlinks get you a seat at the table, but the content will help you secure that seat. While backlinks will have a big impact on your site, if your content is low quality, you’re going to get poor on-page metrics.
If people are clicking on your site and then leaving immediately, Google will see that users are not interacting with your content and determine that it’s probably low quality or irrelevant.
Eventually, Google is going to rank your site lower, simply because your content isn’t good enough.
You need backlinks to your site, but you also need high-quality content that’s going to engage users, solve their problem, and be extremely relevant to the search term they’re looking for.
So, while backlinks are the most important ranking factor when it comes to SEO, you shouldn’t ignore on-page metrics. You still need to optimize your keywords and content, and you still need to provide a good user experience when people land on your site.
SEO is not just about isolating one factor. It’s about creating the right combination of strategies that work together. You need to create a good combination of optimized content and backlinks, and have a good keyword strategy.