Is Link Quality More Important Than Quantity? We Asked an Expert

Is Link Quality More Important Than Quantity? We Asked an Expert

Interview by Vianca Meyer
Published: February 21, 2024

SEO and link-building are undergoing a major transformation in 2024, reshaping how businesses enhance their online presence. Staying ahead in the digital world demands a keen understanding of these changes and the adoption of innovative strategies.

Just a few years ago, link-builders were churning out links like they were going out of fashion.

Today, 93.8% of them say link quality is more important than link quantity. And with 52% of digital marketers expressing that link building is one of the hardest parts of SEO, we need to ramp up our knowledge in this landscape to truly take 2024 by the horns.

So, how does a business stand out in a digital ocean where Google's emphasis on authority reshapes SEO?

We asked Rachel Hernandez, from Next Net Media and The HOTH, for her thoughts on the matter.

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Who Is Rachel Hernandez?

Rachel Hernandez serves as the Director of Marketing at Next Net Media, the global provider of high-authority backlinks and targeted traffic. She plays a crucial role in maintaining the company's position as the top retailer of optimization products and services, leveraging a vast network of media outlets and news websites to benefit clients worldwide.

"Google has made it abundantly clear that proven authority dominates all search engine results pages (SERPs), leading to an inevitable explosion of web content.”

“This trend is particularly accentuating the importance of local SEO and rankings, a response to the surge in 'near me' searches and a growing preference for maps over direct Google searches.”

“In this context, the emphasis shifts towards enhancing online visibility and search engine scores."

The evolution of link-building strategies marks a decisive shift toward prioritizing quality over quantity.

Gone are the days of buying links indiscriminately or joining link-trading exchange services, tactics that can now detract from a site's standing with Google.

More is not always better: better is, well, actually better.

"You can lose points with Google for those kinds of tactics now."

"Marketers used to do spammy things like just literally buying links regardless of relevance and joining link-trading exchange services. You can lose points with Google for those kinds of tactics now. You’ve got to have natural acquisition and contextual relevance every time.”

More recently, the introduction of generative AI has emphasized the shift away from old, ineffective tactics.

Despite GenAI's major influence, it’s still imperative that link builders prioritize genuine, personalized, and search engine guideline compliance when conducting their outreach.

“No matter how cool AI becomes, the only real way to ensure you're getting results that feel like it has a human touch is to be sure it's always touched by a human. Freelancers or trusted agencies with SEO skills are a great solution for getting this done effectively and coming in under budget.”

To take this one step further, businesses must approach guest posting in a way that looks and feels human to maximize link-building benefits while ensuring relevance and value for both parties involved.

“When guest posts are matched well with the right publishers, it’s a powerful tool. That’s the biggest key, good hand-picked relevant matches for guest posts on the right sites. After that, you’ve got to be more intentional with this content than anything else you’re doing.”

“Every keyword counts, every paragraph has to keep them reading, and every CTA must be compelling. We don’t throw guest posts or backlinks around; we want the ones that stand alone.”

Discussing the importance of humanizing the approach of link-building efforts, it’s essential to highlight how organic backlinks can significantly impact search engine rankings and overall visibility.

“One of my favorite case studies is about a shoe retailer called Kickscrew that came to us a bunch of years ago. They were already doing well and we wanted to show them how to blow it out of the water with a diversified backlink strategy.”

“We used our HOTH Blogger service to create that incredibly intentional content, and then we put it to work with keywords that ranged from easy wins to big picture. We did a ton of link outreach and then syndicated the most successful pieces. I’m not kidding when I tell you this brand outranked Nike for Air Jordan’s on the SERPs.”

“Their rankings went off the charts and their revenue exploded. Not for a few days or weeks. It created a sustainable path that they’ve been maintaining for years, just killing it. No big product launch, no massive rebranding. Just a really solid backlinking strategy.”

"The thing about diversifying is that you really can't fake it. You've got to stretch the chart in all directions."

At this point, it becomes clear that we need to delve even deeper into the diversifying tactics that can make or break a link builder’s backlink profile – especially considering Google’s finicky algorithm.

“The thing about diversifying is that you really can't fake it. You've got to stretch the chart in all directions. Variety in the DA of sites you're getting backlinks with. Variety in the types of sites. Variety in the traffic demographics. Variety of platforms. Test, review, adjust, repeat. The tricky part is getting this kind of diversity while remaining relevant to your niche and true to your business concept.”

We know that hordes of link builders have been using LinkedIn as a form of outreach for guest posts – and can we blame them?

It’s in the name.

However, spend a few minutes on the platform and you will find many of the platform's locals have grown frustrated with an endless amount of link-building and guest posting requests.

So, where's the balance?

“Keep an eye on bonding and relationships between your brand and your customers. Be in front of them without being in their face."

“This is where success reporting is put to work. At what point are your leads walking away? What was your last outreach before that? Where are the most conversions happening? How can you elevate that honeypot before the churn? Chances are good that it’s going to come back to mutual engagement, providing useful value, building a good relationship, and striking at the optimal times.”

“Keep an eye on bonding and relationships between your brand and your customers. Be in front of them without being in their face. Be the one providing knowledge and adding value to their life, not just selling. If you want engagement, you’ve got to engage.”

The crucial point, however, is that after a day’s work of implementing expert strategies to boost your link-building efforts, we must rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) to genuinely understand the effectiveness of our link-building campaigns.

“For KPIs, we focus on increased traffic, increased rankings, and DA/DR. DA/DR are going to be indicators of your site's authority which is the most important element of SEO. Links are the most effective way to build that authority. Essentially, without that foundation, your content will not rank.”

Luckily, Hernandez provides a few solid trends and developments to keep an eye on if you’re looking to bolster your rankings in 2024.

“The biggest development is the one that’s already started: the dramatic advancement of user-facing tech with AI and SGE at the top and phasing out 3rd party cookies close behind. Anyone who isn’t already adapting to these changes is falling behind faster than they realize. It all comes back to the user experience, building trust, using first-party data to know your customers better, and leveraging all of that to elevate your link-building strategies in really genuine ways.”

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“Truly, the user experience just can’t be overstated right now. Avoid doing anything that loses points with Google and do everything you can to score points with the users. Create content that teaches them something, entertains them, provides value and fosters trust. Then take that great content and spread it with as much relevant diversity as you possibly can.”

As our exploration of link-building and SEO in 2024 comes to a close, we’re sure that these insights will come in handy.

To recap: prioritize quality over quantity, embrace local SEO and personalization, and monitor and adapt to algorithm changes with diverse strategies.

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