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How relying solely on backlinks can impact SEO

25 Nov

When it comes to building a successful SEO strategy, there are a lot of different techniques and methods an SEO agency might use to get your website to rank.

One of these is link building.

If you’ve been kicking around this site for a while, this will no doubt sound familiar to you.

We’ve talked about the importance of backlinks as part of your search engine optimisation strategy before, and how it can help contribute to an improved rank.

Of course, that isn’t the only thing we’ve noticed – we’ve also noticed that a certain folks in the business seem to equate link building with good SEO.

Make no mistake: while it’s an important part of SEO, it’s also something you shouldn’t rely solely on!

Backlinking 101: the role of backlinks in SEO

Has somebody out on the internet linked to your website, either to gush about the level of service you received, make a recommendation or share an interesting article?

Congratulations, you’ve just generated a backlink!

In the old days, search engines like Google used to operate on the principle that if a lot of people are sharing links to your site, then there must be something to warrant all that attention.

As a result, search engines would simply assume that a lot of backlinks = a good site, and therefore rank that site higher.

Link-building isn’t just about SEO, either – on top of improving rankings, links also bring new visitors (and therefore, new leads) into your website.

Just one problem: this type of system is incredibly easy to rig, which is why search engines like Google have refined the measures they use to determine a quality backlink.

This doesn’t mean that backlinks are useless! They’re still an important part of the equation, just with a couple of caveats:

  • Quality over quantity – one backlink from a reputable site is worth more than a dozen from a dodgy looking website
  • It’s not the make or break factor – search engines measure backlinks alongside other ranking criteria

The key takeaway? Backlinks still matter – just don’t rely on them solely.

Why you can’t rely solely on backlinks

The problem with putting all your eggs in one basket (OR: how I learned to love things other than backlinks)

Problem 1: you might miss a lot of other important factors

The days of your SEO strategy being made up solely of generating backlinks are long over – nowadays, if you want to succeed you’re going to need to look at other variables like:

  • Content
  • Keyword selection
  • Meta data
  • Title tags
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Responsive design

Unfortunately, a focus on backlinks can lead to you getting tunnel vision and overlooking these crucial factors.

And that in turn leads to a worse-performing SEO strategy.

Problem 2: it’s inconsistent

The thing with backlinks is that you’re relying on other people to link back to your site – and that can be a pretty big gamble.

Basically, backlinking is a bit of a chicken and egg situation – in order for people to link to your site, they need to know about it in the first place!

Furthermore, there’s also the fact that it’s completely reliant on others. You have no control over how many backlinks, or where they come from (or when they’re removed!) – all of which can affect your site’s ranking.

Problem 3: you don’t “own” links

Say you get a really high-quality link from a highly-reputable site in our trade – this is great, and can be a boon for your SEO!

Just one problem: you can’t control whether or not that link stays up. Websites can shut down, and old content and posts can be deleted.

Whatever the reason, if the site or page goes down, the backlink goes with it, and you can say goodbye to most of the SEO benefits that came with it.

In fact, our SEO specialists have even seen instances where clients have had their previous SEO agency remove links out of “spite” resulting in a dramatic drop in traffic.

Problem 4: the risk of “bad” backlinks

You’re only as credible and trustworthy as the crowd that you run with – when it comes to backlinks, that means “good” backlinks from reputable and trustworthy sites are better, and have a greater effect on your site ranking.

At the same time, backlinks from dodgy, fishy websites can lead to your rank suffering:

  • Link farms
  • Spam comments from online forums
  • Gambling sites
  • Hacked websites

The problem with relying on backlinks is that you can’t control where they come from. You might luck out and get links from trustworthy sites – at the same time, you might get backlinks from problematic websites and be hit with guilt by association.

Fortunately, it’s pretty rare that this should happen – of course, that doesn’t mean that you can afford to ignore it!

Problem 5: you can’t force it

In the past, a lot of shady SEO agencies would create what are known as link farms – entire sites whose only purpose is to link to their clients’ webpages and generate links that way.

There have even been cases of black-hats (read: dodgy SEO providers) breaking into existing websites and taking over, using them to generate backlinks from an existing site with credibility!

Using either of these tactics can lead to your site being punished with lower rankings – in extreme cases, you can even be blacklisted altogether.

Others try to “force” backlinks by signing up to forums and blasting your links everywhere.

The problems with that should be pretty self-explanatory:

  • It’ll result in a quick ban
  • Google’s smart enough to detect links from forum spam
  • And finally, people are smart enough to see through it!

If backlinking’s out, what’s the key to good small business SEO?

One word: content.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: content is king when it comes to SEO. A steady stream of original, high-quality, well-written content is the most effective way of building long-lasting SEO success.

We know, it takes a lot more time and work than trying to force backlinks.

Take our word for it however: it’s much more effective!

And it isn’t just creating content, either. All of your content marketing needs to be backed up by an in-depth strategy that focuses on improving your rankings for carefully selected keywords and searches.

Not only that, but it also needs to consider which of your webpages and services you need to prioritise, and devise both a content and internal linking strategy to improve their rankings.

And of course, you can’t forget all the stuff that goes on underneath the hood like meta data, title tags and more!

It’s a lot of work – luckily, there’s help out there!

Choose an SEO agency in Melbourne that does SEO right

Search engine optimisation is a lot of work – and building backlinks are just one part of it.

With all the other things business owners like you need to look after, the fact of the matter is that you just can’t go it on your own.

Luckily, that’s where we come in.

The best way to get a site to rank is by getting professional help – and that’s exactly what our SEO experts have been doing since 2006.

It isn’t just SEO, either – our digital marketing agency offers a range of different services, including PPC advertising and automated marketing.

For SEO that works, get in touch with iformat today – give our team a ring on 1300 88 64 50, or click here to get in touch online.