Backlinks – Are They Really Helpful?
Backlinks are important to any website; however, the actual return on investment may be questionable. First and foremost, backlinks are more useful if they are coming from a site with a higher page rank or more authority than the page they are linking to. Obtaining backlinks from websites with less page rank will have little to no effect on SEO. And, obtaining backlinks from higher page rank sites is very difficult, and the actual benefits from those links are now in question.
Tomas Vaitulevicius from MOZ posted an article entitled The SEO Myth of Going Viral in which he references studies over a long period of time which definitely call into doubt the benefits vs the costs for a linking campaign. The gist of the article is that sites with strong linking campaigns do report improvements in traffic and visibility that dissipate over time, but the improvements seem to stem from the general visibility of the website itself and not the linking campaign.
In his article What Link Building Success Really Looks Like, but Mark Johnstone of MOZ, the premise is that link building campaigns do work, but only over a long period of time and when coupled with other visibility campaigns. That coupling, of course, makes it very difficult to determine whether the linking campaign or the supporting campaigns caused the actual increase in traffic.
In our experience, link building is a valuable part of any SEO campaign, however, it needs to be noted that the positive effects can only be seen in years and not months, the cost over those years can become increasingly prohibitive for companies to manage, and, additional SEO visibility campaigns must be continued throughout the link building period. Backlink campaigns are not for clients seeking instant results, and, if done improperly, can be extremely expensive with little to no results.