How to Prepare for the Declining Power of Link Building in SEO

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SEO is not what it used to be.

Search engines are changing faster than they have in the last decade, thanks in part to the help of artificial intelligence tools like OpenAI’s GPT-3.

The unfortunate aspect of these new tools is that they are further proliferating the overabundance of content and link building spam on the web.

And while link building remains a highly-correlated Google ranking factor, its significance among hundreds of other ranking factors continues to wane.

It’s the perfect toe-to-toe match: AI content vs. AI search engines that understand natural language processing.

As a weighted algorithm, many other factors are included in both technical and content-based SEO.

As link building wanes, what other factors will remain or emerge as important focal points of your own SEO strategy?

In this article, we’ll look at what link building is and why its power is fading away before exploring alternative tactics you can use to increase your website authority and boost your organic traffic.

We’ll also provide some tips on how best to implement these strategies so that you can start seeing results right away.

What is Link Building in Search Engine Optimization?

Link building for SEO can be defined as the process of exchange or acquisition of links from external sources to your own website.

It seeks to build relationships with other websites and businesses, thus increasing your visibility on the web and improving your overall internet presence.

For more information, feel free to take a look at our beginner’s SEO guide to link building.

Why Is The Power of Link Building Declining in SEO

Link building was once a major factor in Google’s algorithm and had a huge impact on how websites were ranked.

However, with the introduction of machine learning algorithms and more sophisticated search engines, link building has become less relevant as a ranking factor.

google ranking factors
Top Google ranking factors by Spearman correlation.

Most current search engine algorithms are now geared towards semantic analysis, including machine understanding of natural language processing, of content rather than inbound links.

Search engines are getting better at understanding content context and quality without needing to rely on links at all.

This shift begs the question: what are webmasters and digital marketers to do now that backlinks matter less?

Alternative Tactics to Increase Keyword Rankings Without Backlinks

As link building’s power in SEO is fading away, it’s important to explore alternative tactics that will help increase keyword rankings without relying on backlinks.

In this section, we’ll look at some of the key strategies and tactics you can use to boost your website authority and organic traffic even when link building isn’t a viable option.

From optimizing content for search engines to leveraging social media channels, there are plenty of options available for those looking to rise up the SERPs without the need for external links.

Let’s take a closer look at what these methods entail and how best to implement them.

Create Quality Content

Google loves to reiterate the need to regularly create, update and improve website content quality.

Doing so means not only making your website content more entertaining, controversial and informative. It means improving the flow, natural breaks, inclusion of interactive elements, images, headers and video.

This leads to our next point.

Include Video

High quality video means your brand has a budget and is likely more legitimate.

While direct links from YouTube may not be of much help, a sizable following on the platform can drive significant amounts of traffic and boost your credibility. I am confident that this trend will only expand in the future.

Optimize Your On-page Content for Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website and its content more visible, discoverable, and easily understood by search engine crawlers or bots.

This can be achieved through a variety of methods, such as creating unique URLs, optimizing meta descriptions and titles, using keywords strategically, and ensuring that content is organized in a logical manner.

Internal Link Signals

Internal links are an important part of SEO because they help search engines better understand the structure and hierarchy of your website.

Internal links have become an increasingly important part of SEO as link building has become less reliable and effective. Internal linking helps search engines to understand the structure and hierarchy of a website, in addition to providing a means for webmasters to build visibility without the need for additional inbound links.

The way internal links are used can have a big impact on how search engine crawlers crawl and index websites. This is especially true since most search engines assign more relevance to pages that have a higher number of internal links.

Internal links can be used to reduce the reliance on backlinks, while also helping to improve user experience and navigation.

Leverage Social Media

Social media is becoming increasingly important for websites looking to maximize their visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines are now capable of reading into social media chatter and extracting key data points to improve keyword rankings.

Search engines consider social signals when ranking websites, which means that leveraging various social media channels can help to boost your SERP rankings.

They do this is by using natural language processing (NLP) algorithms and machine learning tools that scan posts, comments, likes and other social interactions to determine which content is most relevant to a particular query.

It is important to note that social media signals are not as strong as inbound links, but are still an effective way of increasing visibility and driving website traffic.

ChatGPT Considerations

ChatGPT is a natural-language processing tool that is gaining a great deal of buzz among digital marketers. This technology uses machine learning algorithms to process text data and generate more nuanced content, answers and conversations than traditional search engines.

The promise of search chat based on machine learning and artificial intelligence is that no little blue links will even display. This fact not only changes the way we think about traditional SEO, but the way search engines display their content. Authority will matter, but links are likely to be an even smaller component.

Conclusion

As new search engine algorithms have taken over, the power of link building has diminished significantly. However, there are still ways to boost website traffic and keyword rankings without relying on backlinks.

By creating quality content, including video, leveraging internal links and utilizing social media channels, webmasters can increase their website authority and organic traffic even when link building is no longer an option.

With careful implementation and optimization, you can ensure your site remains relevant despite the changing landscape of SEO.

Nate Nead

Nate Nead

Nate Nead is the CEO & Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting company that provides strategic advisory services across multiple disciplines including finance, marketing and software development. For over a decade Nate had provided strategic guidance on M&A, capital procurement, technology and marketing solutions for some of the most well-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 and SMB clients alike. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.

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