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June 8, 2021

Is Backlinking Still Important in 2021?

Search engine optimization strategies never stay constant. New technologies make new, innovative approaches doable. Consumers shift interests and change buying behavior. Search engines adjust algorithms to ensure only the most relevant results for the right users. Throughout this process, businesses adjust strategies accordingly because those that don’t risk losing lucrative opportunities.

A key part to every entrepreneur’s digital marketing game plan is link building. 

Link building strategies allow your business to acquire backlinks that improve your reach, broadening your market. But with the newer, seemingly better SEO tactics, is backlinking still an important part of your marketing plan in 2021?

Backlinking Still Matters in SEO

Backlinks are still relevant in 2021 because they affect your organic search ranking. Websites that link back to your website matters a great deal. It tells search engines, Google, in particular, that your site is relevant and legitimate; that it’s a reliable source of information for topics related to your industry. Search engines take this to mean that your site is useful and valuable for people looking up those topics online.

Earning quality backlinks has a positive effect on your site’s search engine ranking, giving you better visibility.

But the right SEO company doesn’t just provide you with a good number of backlinks. John Mueller of Google said as much after addressing an answer during a round table talk; that the number of backlinks is “completely irrelevant.”  Mueller adds that the search engine evaluates links in different ways, placing more weight on valuable ones and passing over others. 

For example, a blog post explaining the difference between recruitment and selection linked in multiple sites that are either irrelevant to the site or have low authority isn’t likely to rank as well as a blog post covering the same topic that has one or two highly authoritative sites (e.g., news sites, industry organizations, etc.).

So an effective link building strategy is built on quality backlinks, not on quantity alone.

What Makes a Link a Quality Link?

Authority and relevance are two of the most crucial factors that contribute to a link’s value. 

Website Relevance 

The website you’re linking to should be an expert in an industry. Google will prefer links coming from sites that already have a lot of traffic, users and content that are related to your niche.

Website Authority

Authority covers high ranking websites that can influence your page’s rank because they are linked to you. How do you find out a site’s domain authority?

The Moz Domain Authority Tool is free, and its scale goes from 1 (the lowest)-100 (the highest). A domain rating of 50 may seem low, and anything higher than 65 is good.

If your website covers Your Money Your Life (YMYL) topics, you’ll need high-quality backlinks. YMYL sites go through a rigorous evaluation by Google’s quality raters. Raters (not bots, but humans) run web page content through a checklist. Sites that provide content on finances, health and medicine, legal concerns, and other similar subjects that will have a significant on a person’s life and livelihood, need to pass stringent criteria. When a website with a high YMYL rating links to your site, it’s a credible nod to your authority.

When you earn enough quality backlinks, you build a backlink profile that improves your search ranking.

One of the ways to measure your backlinks is through PageRank.

What is PageRank’s Role?

PageRank is Google’s system of ranking pages based on scoring links. If your page got a PageRank score of “0,” it means it’s a low-quality site. If your page receives a grade of “10,” it means it’s one of the most authoritative sites online.

What are the factors affecting its ranking signals?

  1. Internal links
  2. Clicks (links from the website should be clicked)
  3. Nofollow links
  4. Anchor text (anchors should provide an accurate description of a page’s content)

How to Earn Quality Backlinks

Guest blogging is one of the more popular tactics for earning quality backlinks. It’s a fairly straightforward process of reaching out to other websites, pitching an article that contains a link back to your website and then writing and submitting that article for publication. Most websites publish your blog for free; others will ask for a fee.

Guest blog posting can be a tedious but necessary process to your link building strategy. You need to reach out to numerous sites to ensure a good backlink profile. But it’s not the only tactic that can deliver results.

Other ways to earn backlinks are:

Commenting on popular forums – provide informative answers to concerns, and if it’s allowed, you can reference and link to your website for further guidance on the subject. This approach requires consistency to build your profile in the forums and restraint to prevent answers that may be deemed spammy because it contains a link to your site.

Creating content formats that get read – according to a Backlinko study, some 90 percent of online content don’t get links. And that certain types of formats get considerable backlinks, like: why-posts, videos, infographics and lists. 

Becoming a source – Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connects journalists with sources on a number of topics, from medical and health to business and lifestyle. Your expertise can be published on major news outlets. You could get a brand mention, along with your profile. You could also get a link back to your site. It’s a good way to build a strong backlink profile.

Link Building is Not the Only SEO Strategy

Yes, backlinks are still important even as other strategies are introduced along with changes in search algorithm and consumer behavior.  But like any investment in marketing your business, never put all of your eggs in one basket. 

Devote some of your resources to other tactics; focus on a few that deliver consistent results. Test and continually evaluate your approaches to determine what works best and what doesn’t. Do this with consistency, and promoting your business will be easy even — when new technologies and consumer interests prompt shifts in the market.


Itamar Gero is the founder of SEO Reseller, a global digital marketing solutions provider that empowers agencies and their local clients all over the world. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).

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