Is Link-Building Really the Future of SEO?
Currently, backlinks are the 3rd most important factor in Google’s search engine ranking. A lot of bloggers, online business people, and SEO professionals devise their entire SEO campaigns around backlinks. But is link-building really the future of SEO?
A lot of people like to believe that it is. However, there are a few factors that indicate that although link-building will always be an important factor in SEO, it isn’t going to be the only one as a lot of people like to think.
In other words, not all of your efforts should be focused solely on backlinks. There are a lot of other factors that you should consider. In this post, we analyse why and how link-building may not be the only future of SEO, and how should you diversify your efforts, time and resources.
Google is All About Its Users
It is a simple concept, but you need to get it right to understand how Google truly works.
It is true that there are hundreds of algorithms and ranking factors at work behind the scenes, but it all comes down to one important thing:
“Is Google providing the best possible search results to its users?
You see, if Google fails to provide relevant search results to its users, people will stop using it. As a result, Google — the search engine — will fail.
Now, once you understand this, it will be easier for you to realise that relevancy is a more important factor than the number of backlinks your website receives.
It is true that having a lot of high-quality backlinks validate the quality of your website. It does help you in the search engines. But if your content isn’t relevant to the search query, it won’t get ranked despite the high number of backlinks.
The Google Hummingbird Effect
The recent Google Hummingbird update also changed the way Google displays the search results.
The update was quite an extensive one. But to put it in simpler words, Hummingbird updated Google to understand what the users are trying to search. They don’t always have to say exactly what they want, but it is the user-intent that Google started taking into account. Moreover, with Google Now, the informal way of asking questions was also interpreted by Google after the Hummingbird update.
Because of this, the relevancy of the content became all the more important.
How Does Google Calculate Relevancy?
Nobody knows how Google exactly does it, but there are a couple aspects of it that we definitely know.
Let’s break it down and see how Google does it, so you can focus on these aspects as well as you do for building backlinks.
1. CTR (Click Through Rate)
Google displays the 10 best results on Page 1 of its results. Now it is up to the user to open any of those pages. How do you think a user decides which page to open?
He/she decides by analysing the follow aspects:
- The headline of the page
- The highlighted keywords
- The meta-description of the page
In other words, you can improve your CTR by improving the above-mentioned 3 aspects, right?
Higher click-through rates indicate Google that a certain page is more relevant to the query. For instance, if 80 out of 100 users is clicking on the page that is ranked 3rd, it will indicate that the 3rd listing is actually more relevant than the 1st and 2nd listings.
2. The Bounce-Rate
How long does it take for your website visitors to quit and jump off of your website?
If it is less than 3 seconds, it indicates that your website isn’t have what they wanted. In other words, it wasn’t relevant enough.
Once Google realises this, it will eventually demote your website in the search engine rankings, despite the fact that you may have hundreds of high-quality backlinks.
On the other hand, even if you don’t have a lot of backlinks, if your visitors are spending a lot of time on your website after finding it on the search engine, it indicates that they have found what they were looking for. As a result of that, Google will promote your website’s ranking to provide a better search experience to its users. The number of backlinks you have doesn’t play a big part in this.
Backlinks are important. Don’t get me wrong.
But they aren’t the only thing that you should be focusing on. The relevancy of your content, its usefulness to your target audience, the average bounce-rate of your webpages, and the CTR you are getting in the SERPs are also very important factors.
So divide your focus, efforts, and resources accordingly. Only paying attention to generating backlinks won’t do you a lot of good if you completely forget the other ranking factors.