SEO Backlinks: Can You Rank Without Backlinks?

Do you need SEO backlinks to rank? We investigate the truth behind Google’s ‘number one’ ranking factor…

SEO backlinks are hands down one the most high-risk, high-value aspects of optimisation in existence. On the one hand, you can position your website at the very top of Google with a strong backlink profile. It won’t budge, if you get it right. A site, once it gains trust and significant authority from established third-party domains, becomes a permanent fixture in the search results. On the other hand, if you make one false move, your website could fall victim to a drop in ranking, or worse. The worst part is, you don’t always know what Google is looking for. Google makes changes to its algorithm every day, which makes search engine optimisation a real challenge.

With all that in mind, there’s one important question that still needs clearing up: Can you rank without backlinks?

In an ideal world, you will be found based on the relevance of your content. You will publish content that is optimised with keywords that position you ahead of the competition. Google’s bots will crawl your website and rank you based on specific search queries.

Unfortunately, Google is far more complex than SEO copywriting. No surprise there. You will need to account for thousands of requirements, including backlinks, readability, keyword density, word count and many, many more. The end goal is to produce content that your audience actually wants to see. Thankfully, for anyone looking to rank well in a world manipulative SEOers, Google is closer than ever to a natural solution. Many negative optimisation techniques (considered, black hat SEO), that once guaranteed you position one rankings, will now land you with a Google penalty.

Quality Content Marketing

Get your on-page SEO nailed on, including keywords, link structure, meta content and it’s possible to find yourself on the first page of Google. No SEO backlinks required. This process is harder, and will take much longer. But, the foundations are in place for a successful digital marketing strategy.

To get you started, here are some of the most important on-page ranking factors to consider:

Content that offers advice:

Do your research to create perfect landing pages. SEO content typically takes two forms; both equally important when it comes to rankings.

For evergreen content, you need to do as much research around topics related to your business. The goal here is to answer questions that people are actually searching for. Humans are curious creatures. We like to get answers to our questions in seconds. Search Engine Watch, reported a 61% YOY increase in the number of questions searches. This includes words, such as “who,” “what,” “where,” “how” etc. These phrases have a higher probability of appearing in voice search, rather than typing.

This shift in technology, has provided marketers with a real opportunity to optimise for voice search. Just take a look at voice search’s explosive growth:

seo backlinks vs voice search graph

It’s more important than ever to adapt a conversational tone into your website content.

Next up, we have topical content, that is published around trending topics in your industry. Your commentary should be insightful, professional and factual, so users return to you for news. When in doubt, do your research before rushing into publishing content. Google places relevance on quality content, over the time published.

Content formatting will give you a boost.

The challenge here is to strike a balance between reader and robot. Google wants to see long-form content, ideally over 2,000 words on a page. Yes, really, that many words. Your readers, want digestible content complete with bullet points, sub-headings and formatting to break up long sentences. The average first page result on Google contains 1,890 words. So, don’t put off writing longer content in fear of upsetting your readers. Simply, structure your posts using strong/emboldening for key points, so readers can pick out value.

Link to internal web pages

You may be avoiding the manual backlink process, but internal linking will give your site a boost. If you have written a post that relates to a specific piece of content on your service pages, link to it. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your own content, and adding value – thumbs up from Big G!

Don’t forget images and alt tags.

Google is a text reader. Your readers may benefit from pretty pictures, but Google can not see them. Not unless you include an alt tag, which details what that image is all about. This is another opportunity to include a keyword that is relevant to the content you are promoting.

Encourage social media sharing

If you aren’t link building on a daily basis, you need to encourage referral traffic to your website somehow. Including social sharing buttons on your blog posts will allow others to share your content, with just one click.

So, are backlinks important for SEO?

Yes, of course. At the end of the day, SEO backlinks are one of many ranking factors that will get you recognised in the SERPs. The problem is they have been established as the only way to generate great results from search engine optimisation. This is not the case, as we have discussed, there are many alternative methods. The thing is, link building remains the one that has stood the test of time. It’s near to impossible to rank in Google without a link building strategy. That’s because, naturally, people will link to content they like, without realising they are giving sites a boost.

Link building should not be avoided. Google likes trusted websites, and only websites with a high trust authority will make it to the top of the SERPs. One of the most important trust factors in SEO is backlinks. If you ignore this strategy, then by your own admission, you are falling behind your competitors. Get ahead with link building services that you can trust to bring in results. Speak to our SEO experts to get started today. Call: 01226 720 755.