So…what is it?
Is it keyword density?
How about the number of blog posts you have?
The number of words in your post?
What about choosing lower-competition keywords you know you can rank for?
Could it be your bounce rate?
Maybe it’s how fast your website loads.
…Or is it the number of social media followers and the number of comments they make?
Well, truthfully, each of these makes up a slice of the pie that determines how your website ranks.
But, when it comes down to the bottom line, the number and quality of links still have the most weight when determining how your website ranks.
Backlinko, one of the leading SEO blogs, says,”It’s no secret that link building is the most important skill in SEO.”
(By the way, that’s also a link to an awesome link-building guide!)
And if you’ve followed our blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard the same for years.
This will remain true for some time.
Why Are Links Still So Important in 2019?
First, you have to understand the whole idea behind Google. They want to serve the market with the most useful search results for every keyword search in existence.
Then, they serve users relevant ads based on their searches. 84% of Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) total revenue comes from advertising, reports the Washington Post.
YouTube operates around break-even. Alphabet also has special projects involving smart cars.
But without advertising, Google is nowhere near a $848 billion company.
So, the rules of how their business operates dictates that they must serve the market with the search results it wants.
Fail to do so, and they watch their revenue, and entire company, go by the wayside.
How Does Google Consistently Serve the Most Relevant Search Results?
Google currently owns 92.51% of the entire search market share across the globe. Bing comes in at 2.45%. Yahoo has a paltry 1.83%.
Google owns the most sophisticated search algorithm in the world. And they’ve tweaked it with dozens of updates over the years designed to eliminate human manipulation and get truly the most useful search results searchers actually want at the top of Google’s rankings.
And they continue to do this better than any other search company because the market uses Google far more than any other search engine.
What Role Do Links Play?
Each link counts as a “vote.” Except, each vote doesn’t carry the same weight. A link from the New York Times carries hundreds or thousands of times more power than a link from your best friend’s website.
That’s because the New York Times has a massively built-up reputation with Google already. It’s loaded with popular content people read. And it has millions or billions of links already pointing to its site.
So if the New York Times links to you, you must have done something that’s quite a big deal.
Hence, Google rewards that link much more than many other links you might get.
And to earn that link, you must have some kind of amazing content. Plus, you more than likely have to know someone at the New York Times, or be an incredibly skilled marketer.
That’s what the web is. It’s an interrelated place with billions of websites, each with their own distinct reputation.
And the best way to determine that reputation is by seeing what other websites think of yours by looking at links (votes), or lack thereof, to your website.
So, that’s why, ultimately, links and content will continue to be the strongest ranking factor for your website.
Time and money are never wasted when invested in content and linking.