Is link building meaningless in 2020?

Are you curious whether you should still pay attention to link building in 2020? We have put the test to the test and have carried out a number of tests in recent months. Read more about what link building is and why websites use link building as a means for better findability; and take advantage of it.

What is link building?

Linkbuilding is a collection of activities that you do to get valuable links from other websites with the aim of improving the position of your website in search results. These external links are also referred to as ‘backlinks’.

With link building you can gain extra ‘clout’ with your website by increasing your authority. The more value you get through backlinks, the more authority you build. And the more authority you have, the faster you get high positions on search results pages.

Why should link building be meaningless?

Years ago, Google determined how important a page is mainly based on the number of links that the website receives (backlinks). As a company, did you want to be found better in Google? Then you could buy loads of links to influence the search results.

Years ago, Google determined how important a page is mainly based on the number of links that the website receives (backlinks). As a company, did you want to be found better in Google? Then you could buy loads of links to influence the search results.

It’s not that simple anymore. The Google algorithm was updated in 2012 to be able to check the quality of backlinks. Also called the Penguin updates.

Google has since assessed the value of backlinks. Does your website have many very low quality links, spammy backlinks or purchased links? Then you have the chance to get a penalty. A penalty ensures that you are punished by getting lower positions in search results. Since 2016, Penguin has been a standard part of the Google algorithm. With this Google tries to prevent manipulation by buying backlinks.

Because of these developments you would somewhat expect that link building is no longer necessary. Isn’t the Google algorithm smart enough to estimate the value of your content without having to look at backlinks? A nice utopia, but in practice backlinks still seem to be important. Very important indeed.

The effects of backlinks

Ahrefs conducted extensive research into the effect of backlinks in 2017. 2 million search results were analyzed. Yes, this has been a while, but since then there have been no new major Penguin updates. The conclusion is expected to be no different in 2020: links remain of great importance for your findability in Google.

Backlink factors according to Ahrefs research

These results show that backlinks are very important for SEO results. In fact, it is so important that the effect of backlinks appears to be almost 10 times greater than page-level optimizations.

Authority and links

Qualitative backlinks to your website increase the authority of the website. The more authority your website has, the more visibility you get with your website. So the more ‘power’ you have when, for example, you post new content online to achieve good results in search results. The authority of a domain is largely determined by the value of backlinks that the domain receives. But there are more factors that influence authority. Below is an overview of the most important factors for authority.

Factors for authority at domain level:

  • The age of the domain – how long the domain exists
  • The link value – how many links the domain gets, the value of these links and how many unique domain names these links come from
  • The amount of pages and the growth of new content

Factors for authority at page level:

  • The age – how long has the page been around?
  • Is the page updated regularly ?
  • Link value – how many internal and external links does the page receive and what is the value of this?

Factors for authority at link level:

Number of links from that page – the more links there are on a page, the less value each link has.
The Nofollow attribute – the nofollow attribute can be used to limit the value passed on with a link.
Value of the linking page – if you receive a link from a very valuable page, you will receive more link value than if you get a link from a page that has not built any value itself.

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