Are Backlinks Still Important for SEO?

Seo March 4, 2024
On this page
  1. What top SEO services say about backlinks?
  2. Conclusion

Do backlinks still matter for SEO? Let's answer this question and show you why the rich get richer in Seo Plus. So here's the truth: backlinks are still important for SEO performance because they're the foundation of Google's original page rank algorithm. 

What top SEO services say about backlinks?

Countless independent studies in the SEO industry have proven the impact of backlinks on organic search performance, which brings me to point number one, which is a powerful website equals better SEO performance. For example, Semrush found that the overall strength of a website and the number of referring domains correlated with better performance. Backlinko studied 11.8 million Google search results and found that: 

"A site's overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher search engine rankings." - Backlinko

Now, back in the day, you could use Pagerank to measure the strength of a website. But those days are long gone. Now, you need to rely on third-party tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, and Majestic, which all have their own version of measuring domain strength. But keep in mind these, like authority scores from Semrush or domain ratings from Ahrefs, are estimates, and Google does not use these metrics for ranking, but here's the point: your goal should be to grow these metrics, the stronger your website is, the better. 

It will likely rank in search engines. But you will also need to acquire backlinks to the actual pages that you want to rank, which brings us to point number two - powerful pages equal better SEO performance. Now it possible for a page to rank without backlinks hitting it directly. For example, when Forbes publishes a new article, they often rank on the first page without any direct links. But with that said, Forbes is the exception, not the rule. Most sites will need direct links to their SEO-driven pages. Now, here's the data from a trust to support this idea:

"The more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it gets from Google." - Ahrefs


"Only one in every ~20 pages without backlinks has traffic... and the majority of these get 300 organic visits or less each month." - Ahrefs

And Semrush also found that higher-ranking pages have a higher page authority score. In other words, top-ranking pages typically have more backlinks, which brings us to number three - better SEO performance equals more backlinks. And this is why it's said that the rich get richer in SEO meaning the better your SEO performance, the more links you'll acquire. 

"The first result in Google search has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions 2 to 10." - Backlinko

And Ahrefs found something similar. Top-ranking pages do tend to acquire more backlinks and at a faster pace than the pages that rank below them. And finally, Semrush's study agreed as well when they said that the higher the position of the domain on the SERP, the more referring domains it has. 

So, in short, once you achieve high rankings, you'll start to get organic links. As a result, your page strengthens and will often solidify your positions. But the question is, how do you get to this point? Well, first, you need to understand what a good backlink looks like. And that's when the relevancy pyramid comes into play. The relevancy pyramid is a safeguard against lousy link-building decisions. And most link builders are obsessed with metrics like DR or organic traffic for prioritizing link opportunities. While these do matter, they're secondary to relevance. Relevance is king when it comes to link building. And Google's John Mueller says:

That the total number of backlinks at a website doesn't matter at all to the search algorithm. One link from a relevant website can be more impactful than millions of low quality links.


In summary, backlinks remain a cornerstone of SEO, underpinning Google's page rank algorithm. Studies from SemRush and Ahrefs underscore the link between a website's strength, encompassing metrics like referring domains, and enhanced SEO performance. The interdependence between robust pages and direct backlinks to SEO-centric content underscores their enduring significance.

Furthermore, as SEO success hinges on strategic elements, it's essential to emphasize the importance of a well-crafted topic map for a website. Creating a cohesive topic map aids in organizing and structuring content, aligning with search engine algorithms and user intent. To delve deeper into actionable strategies for boosting website traffic, you can read our post about increasing organic traffic. In essence, the synergy between quality backlinks, a strategically devised topic map, and informed strategies forms a formidable approach for navigating the ever-evolving landscape of SEO.