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56% Say You Can’t Rank Without Link Building [STUDY]

56% Say You Can’t Rank Without Link Building [STUDY]

Links are one of the top search ranking factors on Google. They get you ranked for your target keywords on SERPs. So essentially, one cannot rank without link building, right? Or can you?

According to a poll sent out to Search Engine Journal’s Twitter audience, more than half of the respondents (56%) said that you can’t rank without link building , while 44% said that you can. So link building is still important for you to rank in search pages. But why is the disparity between the can and can’t close enough? Let’s take a look.


#SEJSurveySays Twitter poll results pie chart: 56% for No, 44% for Yes on question of "Can you rank without link building"

Why Links Still Matter

Links are important in bringing traffic to your site. They give your brand exposure and contribute to brand awareness. Based on a study done by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting, links can and will continue to have a major impact on rankings.

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But let’s be honest: creating an effective link building strategy is difficult. It can be costly, time-consuming, and can take a lot of effort. You have to conduct thorough research of your audience and niche. You have to create a targeted promotion strategy. You have to construct compelling messaging for your outreach activities. You have to develop and sustain relationships with those you reach out to.

Link building has also taken on a negative connotation due to Google’s Penguin update and the search engine’s continuous efforts to penalize sites who resort to spammy backlinking activities. The focus now is on quality and relevance of links.

Go Beyond Link Building

There are definitely other link building techniques out there. But instead of concentrating all your efforts on link building, why not explore other methods that can get you to rank? Here are other ways to help you get those much-needed links and boost your exposure:

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1. Move from Link Building to Link Earning

Instead of working on building links, go forth and work on earning links. Anna Crowe shares a link earning road map and a few ideas you can try to earn links in this guide to link earning.

2. Focus on Content

Aside from links, content is the other top search ranking factor. But don’t just create content for content’s sake. Create content that is valuable and relevant to your audience, and is something that others will want to share and link to. This post on linkbuilding by Julia McCoy has some great tips on the types of content you can create to grow your online presence.

3. Get on Social

Social media promotion is a must-have strategy these days. Make your presence known online by getting on different platforms. This also allows you to diversify your audience reach. Participate in Twitter chats and Facebook Live events. You can get people to share your content and link to you by connecting with them on social media.

4. Become an Influencer

As an expert on your topic or niche, you have the power to influence people and get them to follow you. If you’re a good writer, you can do guest posting. If you’re a good speaker, you can do radio interviews, podcast interviews, and public speaking. Look for online and offline opportunities to share your knowledge and get your name and expertise out there.

5. Build a Community

Once you’ve built that online and offline following, you now have a community who can promote your brand or product for you. Nurture that community because they can help get your message across and will be essential to making your brand known.


Have Your Say

Have your link building efforts led you to the top of the SERPs? Have you tried ranking without link building? Share your thoughts in the comments below and have your say in the next survey by checking out the hashtag #SEJSurveySays on Twitter for future polls and data.

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Want to learn new strategies and resources in link building? Join the next SEJ Thinktank webinar for tips and techniques on growing (and revolutionizing) link building strategies. Hurry, only a few days left until this free webinar so sign up now!


Image Credits

Featured Image: koctia/DepositPhotos

In-post Image: Meta-chart by Caitlin Rulien


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Rina Caballar

Editorial Assistant at Search Engine Journal

Rina is the Editorial Assistant for Search Engine Journal. She assists the SEJ team with the editorial process and also ... [Read full bio]

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