Search Engine Optimisation

How Important Are Backlinks?

Google’s Gary Illyes recently suggested that links aren’t as critical as they used to be. However, if you dig deeper, you will see there’s more to the story. When examining search results, you will find that many top-ranking pages for competitive keywords still boast substantial backlink profiles. This indicates that while the role of backlinks in SEO has evolved, they continue to play a significant role.

The general perspective is that links help secure a spot on the first page of search results. It’s a bit like a tie-breaker question in a quiz. User engagement metrics like click-through rate (CTR) and last-click are what solidify a page’s position in the top three search results. Then, there’s a lot more work needed to get a website into the top ten results and onto the first page. When we consider Google’s take on expertise, experience, authority and trust (E-E-A-T) you can see how links could form a foundation for both authority and trust. This nuanced understanding emphasises the importance of looking beyond Google’s statements and adopting a critical approach.

Even if Google is honest about the reduced significance of links, several compelling reasons remain for building backlinks:

  • Referral Traffic – backlinks from reputable sources drive valuable referral traffic directly to your website.
  • Thought Leadership – being referenced by other websites elevates your authority, signalling expertise in your niche.
  • Brand Authority and Trust – strong backlink profiles contribute to brand recognition and help establish trust among potential clients.
  • Leveraging Other Audiences – links from other websites help you tap into new audiences and expand your reach.
  • Prioritisation in AI Models –  generative AI models, like those used in modern search engines, are thought to prioritise content with robust backlink profiles.

Links still matter in the evolving SEO landscape, and it’s essential to understand their nuanced role. They don’t guarantee top positions, but they certainly remain an integral part of the strategy to get you on the first page and boost your online authority.

If you’d like to learn more about link building, our strategies, or any of our other marketing services, drop us a line!

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