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Not all backlinks are created equally. Some are great, others do more bad than good.

This outlook has put “quality backlinks” in the dead-center of conversations.

Not that people don’t look for and get poor quality backlinks anymore. They STILL do. However, quality has become quite a focal point in this SEO department as of late.

In this context, two very big things will happen this year and beyond:

  1. More people will do away from poor quality backlinks. Since it’s becoming more evident that bad link associations hurt PR in a big way.

  2. External backlinks will become less relevant to a point that they won't even matter much.

backlinks-are-dead, seo-techniques, link-building

Now, I might receive some flak for the second point, but let me explain…

External Link Building is Less Relevant Now

Yes, backlink is one of the two most important SEO factors (content being the other one).

However, it’s not uncommon to find websites ranking higher on SERP even with fewer backlinks compared to other results in the lower end.

For example, I Googled “best recipe for vegan”. The following two results popped in first and third result pages.

backlinks-are-dead, seo-techniques, link-building

A quick backlink analysis of these 2 URLs came up with this…

backlinks-are-dead, seo-techniques, link-building

The result on the first page has a fewer number of backlinks (and less Domain Rating) and yet it ranked higher vs. the other one.

You will find countless such examples.

Indeed, this isn’t concretely conclusive to anything, after all, there are over 200 search ranking factors that come into play here.

Yet, in many ways, it shows backlinks are less important today than how things were a few years back.

UXO is the New SEO

Also, a backlink isn’t a direct UX-centric factor.

With Rankbrain becoming more prevalent and now the release of Google BERT, the search engine is chasing factors like Click-Through Rate, Time on Site, Dwell Time, and Bounce Rate more than others, which are indicators of the experience of the users.

So, it’s not hard to assume that Google may be mellowing down with traditional ranking factors such as external backlinks that can easily be manipulated.

Let’s not forget that a large part of link building techniques is black-hat, unethical or not legit. And with search engines more vigilant against such poor practices, it only makes sense that they start prioritizing backlinks less and less.

This isn’t to naively say that backlinks are “really” dead or doesn’t matter anymore. BUT, link building definitely isn’t something what it used to be.

And as search engines become more humane in their ranking in the coming months and years, backlinks would become very less relevant. While this has been a hushed talk for a couple of years now, 2020-2025 might just be the span that it actually starts to pan out in reality.

Recommended Read: A Complete List of Off-Page SEO Techniques

P.S. Sorry for the clickbait title. But I am sure the basic arguments here made sense. :)

P.S.S. Don’t stop guest blogging though. Might not for backlinks, BUT it’s extremely helpful for branding.

Here are some additional reads:

Google: Links Are Not The Most Important SEO Factor

Google’s John Mueller Explains How Sites Without Backlinks Are Discovered

Google: Links From Wikipedia Does Nothing For Your Site and Has No SEO Value

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Asif Ali

The guy behind Spell Out Marketing. A certified content marketer and professional blogger with 5+ years experience in the domain. Find me on Medium here. Let's talk about inbound marketing, business and side-hustle on Twitter. (And oh, if you're on LinkedIn, let's connect!)

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