Backlinking has always been a controversial topic in the world of digital marketing. Before Google set loose the Penguin Spam Filter on April 2012, ranking on Google was ‘easy money’. Website owners could buy their way into the top ranking position by adding more and more links. Top websites had link profiles with so much ‘garbage’ or ‘spam’ links. Link farming was big business. Websites with the same intent of gaining ranking would exchange links with another website (even if they were unrelated) just for a ranking boost. SEO was generally about creating spam links to manage rankings.
Google caught on to this gamifaction of ranking’ and the Google Penguin Spam Filter is now part of Google’s Core Algorithm. Working in real-time, it can penalise a website as soon as spam links appear.
The effectiveness of Penguin and the new ranking criteria added (mobile -friendly, page speed, etc) has somehow overshadowed links as an important factor in ranking. It begs the question, “Is backlinking still important in 2019?”
In Google’s first episode of #AskGoogleWebmasters Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller addressed whether linking out is good for SEO.
In the video, Mueller basically related that linking is still important as a reference especially if it helps a user find more info on a topic and to also check sources. The importance of backlinks was further verified by his warning about using link schemes, linking in advertisements and also within user-generated content (like in the comments section). To some degree, its importance is verified by the methods they have created to detect unnatural link building schemes and the severity of the penalties when caught using them.
Links are critical for your site, and you should regard outbound links as important as inbound links.
Always make sure that you are linking for relevance and credibility. Ask the following questions: Are your links useful to your readers? Do they point to reputable sources?
Should you continue with Link Building Activities?
Yes, ranking still relies heavily on how many reputable sites link to you. The operative word, in this case, is “reputable”. Just as making sure that you are only linking to relevant and credible sites - make sure that you also linked in such quality sites.
How can you gain reputable and credible links?
As in any case, quality content is often what becomes popular. Make sure that you generate content that fulfils the needs of your readers. Instead of spending money on ‘link building schemes’ it can be critical on shifting strategy by investing in quality content creation. While websites can be built overnight, creating a long-standing brand following is a marathon that requires the necessary investment and effort in content development and relationship-building.
Here are some links to help you learn more about link building:
Linkbuilding Tips for 2019 - https://www.linkresearchtools.com/case-studies/link-building-techniques/
Creating the best content for link building - https://searchengineland.com/how-to-choose-the-best-content-format-for-link-building-305519
Link investigation and link building tools -https://searchengineland.com/link-building-tools-you-may-not-know-about-303699