A chain link representing SEO backlinks.

Should businesses still invest in link building as a SEO technique?

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder at Pedestal Search

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder

January 3, 2022 | 5 Min Read

Article updated on August 18, 2022

Google algorithms for search engine ranking change almost daily, and digital marketers are continually forced to guess what search engine optimization (SEO) strategies will offer their business or clients the highest return. Though Google has created extensive tools that assist developers and marketers in their SEO efforts, Google is mum on the actual criterion of the algorithm itself.

Periodically, all SEO techniques should be examined to determine whether they are having the effect we think they should. Link building is an ongoing process and difficult to master, making it an expensive proposition. Is the importance of link building in SEO still true in 2022?

This article looks at the practice of link building in SEO and its current efficacy and return on investment.

What is link building?

In SEO, link building is the practice of gaining high-quality inbound links (also called backlinks) to a webpage. The goal of link building is to increase Google’s faith that your site can guarantee a relevant experience for your visitors. Links from trusted sites (like business associations, industry publications, or suppliers) are stronger for SEO.

Importance of link building in SEO

The end goal of link building is to ensure that your site page ranks higher than your competitors on search engine result pages (SERPs). This benefit is critical. The higher your page ranks on SERPs, the higher your page’s visibility and the more you can increase your website traffic.

Link building SEO has other side benefits for businesses actively working on this technique. Links on trusted sites are clicked upon by their users, increasing immediate traffic to your site and becoming a constant source of referral traffic. Link building strengthens your relationships with clients and your connection to your community. A link to your site on an association or industry publication site increases your authority as an industry leader.

Is link building still relevant to SEO?

Having said all that, are links still helping get your website ranked higher on the SERPs?

Google’s current explanations to users about how they decide on page ranking on SERPs include the following when discussing their assessment of the quality of a site:

“For example, one of several factors we use to help determine this is understanding if other prominent websites link or refer to the content. This has often proven to be a good sign that the information is well trusted. Aggregated feedback from our Search quality evaluation process is used to further refine how our systems discern the quality of information.”

Google is saying that they use inbound link analysis to assess your site based on the prominence of sites that link to you. The algorithm also clearly acts on this assessment. A site that ranks at the top on a SERP usually has almost four times more backlinks compared to sites in positions two to ten.

Link acquisition SEO is an onsite improvement that is still critical for increasing your website rank in SERPs, gain more traffic, and eventually more business.

Is link relevance or link authority more important?

How can you determine that you have high-quality links? Google considers two factors in assessing links: the authority of the site that links to our and the relevancy of the link itself.

Links and Domain Authority

Domain Authority is a number out of one hundred that indicates the reliability and relevancy of a site in its particular subject or industry. Though not incorporated into  search engine algorithms, use Domain Authority as a handy tool to determine how your site would be received by search engines and how sites that you’re considering asking for a backlink would be ranked. For the most part, you want links from sites with higher domain authority, like an industry publication or an industry association.

Backlink relevancy

Domain authority isn’t enough for Google, however. The link in question must also be relevant (closely connected) to your site’s content. If you’re linked by the New York Times, but that article discusses your golfing skills, not your business skills, the link will be irrelevant–and may actually hinder your reputation in Google’s eyes.

Authority or relevancy in link building

But which strategy – relevance or authority – is more important? Well, you need two wheels to make a bicycle run, but you could theoretically balance on the back wheel and still move forward if you had to. Links with high authority are difficult to win unless you can harness high-end publicity to attract those links to your new startup. Until that happens, relevancy is key. Get links from sites that would naturally link to you because your content is aligned.

Link building quality vs quantity

It might be tempting to go out and gather a large number of links to your site from anywhere, reasoning that, even if the links aren’t of high quality, the sheer number of how many incoming links attached to your site will help your standing with search engines.

However, links from sites with low Domain Authority or irrelevant links will actually hinder your efforts to build your own site’s reputation and hurt your site’s ranking in the eyes of search engines. Getting links from an influential site is often very difficult, but you can get a few links from relevant sites and start your SEO link-building journey there. Link building is an ongoing process that companies build over time.

Remember that you only have to beat your immediate competition; unless you’re going head to head with Disney corporation, you may not have to lift your own Domain Authority by too much. Take the time to research your competitors and discover their domain authority ratings. Their ratings will be a benchmark for you that you’ll always try to beat.

If you’re looking to improve the quantity and quality of your website traffic, contact us today. We can help with a full suite of SEO strategies—including link building.


Link Building, SEO

Aaron Levenstadt CEO & Founder at Pedestal Search

Aaron Levenstadt

CEO & Founder

Aaron Levenstadt completed his degree in Statistical & Data Science at Stanford University. That focus has given him an unparalleled data-driven approach to search engine digital marketing. Prior to founding Pedestal Search, Aaron worked at Google at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View California. At Google he worked on the Organic Search, Paid Search and Google Analytics products, which equipped him with extensive knowledge of the mechanisms driving Google’s algorithm and other internet search engines.