Are Backlinks Still Relevant for SEO in 2017?
Backlinks have always played important role in improving your SEO since the early days of internet development. Every marketer knows how important they are for a website’s search engines rankings. But, a lot has changed during the past few years. Google has released many algorithm updates which has resulted in altering the rankings of many websites for every Google algorithm update. But still, there are a lot of factors affecting your website’s search engine rankings apart from just having backlinks. Are backlinks still relevant for SEO in 2017?
Let’s Find Out
According to Searchmetric’s annual study on websites that rank high in Google, they have found out that, quality content is an important factor in SEO for ranking your website in search engines.
But does that mean, are backlinks not important for SEO anymore? What Google is believing is that, if you have quality content posted on your website, then this quality content should be automatically linked by other websites in your niche.
According to recent study by searchmetrics, there is correlation between a high ranking website in Google with the number of backlinks it has. But the correlation data is coming down year by year. This correlation data is declining with the recent clamp down of Google on link spam. Earlier websites used to rank higher when it has more backlinks than any other competitor. Now, Google is only looking for relevant links, but not the number of links.
Here are the five important factors which are considered important in the world of SEO in 2017.
Number of Backlinks
Backlinks are still considered as the number one factor which affects your ranking. As you can see in the above graph, the graph drawn between the Google positions of a website for a keyword against with the number of backlinks a website has. Currently the correlation data between these two metrics is 2.8. And this has been declining as years passed by.
But in overall, the top 30 websites which appear on Google results are still having high amount of backlinks than others. But the gap between those in top and the rest has been declining.
You need good amount of backlinks from relevant websites than from irrelevant websites. If you have 1000 backlinks from irrelevant websites say blog comments and your competitor has few backlinks from relevant websites which are from same niche, then there are greater chances that his website can outrank your website.
The second important factor in SEO is the referring domains. The more number of referring domains you have for your website, the better your chances for it to rank high in Google.
As a live example, you can often see that in Google results, the top positions will be occupied by big websites like wikiepdia.org, imdb.com etc. This is because these big brands have very high amount of referring domains than a normal website. Since, big brands are known for their names and they are often linked by numerous websites.
For example, take America’s Got Talent website. Because of its fame in television, this website gets too much exposure and it will be linked by numerous websites like news websites, magazines etc. Google determines that if a website has too many referring domains, that means it is a quite a popular website and hence its algorithm will put that website in top in Google search results.
It’s not about having too many backlinks from a single website, but if your website has at least one link from many different domains, then your website can outrank those websites with few referring domains. Therefore diversity plays a key role. You want to get a healthy mix of blogs, editorials and web 2.0s as links.
Earlier, site wide links are considered very valuable and those websites with site wide backlinks used to rank really well in Google, but now, Google is considering that site wide link as a single link even though you have your links scattered across the entire website.
Keyword in Anchor Text
Earlier many SEO professionals used to use keywords in their anchor text when building their backlinks. Now, the trend has changed, and the number of people who are using keywords in their anchor text is been declining.
This is due to Google which always suggests to get backlinks naturally.
For example, if you own a website on “fantasy football” and you use that keyword in your anchor text for building a backlink in this page, then this may seem artificial to anyone, not only to Google.
So, it’s better to get backlink which look completely natural and don’t overuse your keywords in anchor text which will not seem natural.
Domain Name in Anchor Text
Nowadays, more and more SEO professionals and content marketers are using your domain name in their anchor text when building their backlinks.
Because it is natural for people to use domain name when linking a website in their blog post. Google considers this a best practice and thinks that the link appears naturally.
So, if you ever happened to get a backlink, you can use domain name in anchor text rather than using keywords in your anchor text.
Because, using keywords in your anchor text doesn’t help alone with rankings of your keyword, as there a lot of factors which will determine the position of your website in Google.
Backlinks from New Websites
This is another important factor in SEO which helps in determining your website rankings in search engines. Having backlinks from new websites can help your website get ranked in search engines.
For example,suppose your competitor is currently ranking #1 in Google for the keyword “how to get subscribers in YouTube” and you rank 3rdfor it. If you and your competitor match all the metrics except the backlinks from your new website, and if you can manage to get new backlinks, then certainly your website will have more chances in getting ranked in #1 position than your competitor.
If you have currently 12 new backlinks and your competitor has around 324 new backlinks, and after six months, if you managed to get around 500 new backlinks and your competitor has still 324 backlinks, then your website will outrank your competitor.
Finally, what Google is trying to say is that every link should occur naturally or at least it should look natural. Build content with great quality and then automatically other webmasters will link to your amazing content and you get a natural link there.