Is Link Building Still Important For Ranking Websites in 2017?

google penguin 4.0

When it comes to ranking websites in 2017, you need to focus on several things. Google has spent the last couple of years releasing various updates to its algorithm geared towards offering users the proper information at the proper time.

Penguin 4.0 is the latest update and is an addition to the core algorithm. However, even with the latest release, link building, content, and user experience still remain as the key ranking factors. The three are still at the top of the list of ranking factors with the greatest impact to the bottom line.


Content has always been and will always be king. Search engines strive to reward content that offers value to the end user. Google has actually included an addition to its algorithm known as AI or artificial intelligence that helps it interpret search queries to offer best possible matches.

In 2017, the focus should be less towards keyword density and more towards content that offers value to the end user, which is what search engines have always yearned for. While the algorithm is becoming smarter regarding the theme of the content, it is still good to watch the word count. Content should be long enough to provide value.


User Experience

crowdsearch comparison

User experience is one of the newer ranking factors that have emerged as one of the most significant in the recent years and have resulted in services like becoming very valuable.

Whether it is streamlined information, quicker load times, or mobile responsiveness all are geared towards improving the user experience. The move towards secure Web is the most recent of technical signals aimed at improving the user experience.

In 2017, brands that will not have made the transition to an improved user experience will find others that have already made the transition surpassing them in terms of rankings. User experience might be a new major player when determining rankings but its importance cannot be underestimated.



Link Building

You will be surprised to learn that links still matter and will continue doing so in 2017 and beyond. High quality link building will still be the greatest ranking factor in 2017 even though Google is still not willing to admit it. The release of Penguin 4.0 means that evaluation of spam and links will now happen in real time. It therefore means that it is now important than ever to clean up your back link profile.

Google released Penguin 4.0, which is the fourth and probably the final update to the Penguin update on September 23, 2016. As with previous versions, the algorithm is designed to penalize those websites that practice risky link building or earning inbound links. Here are a few things you need to know about it.

The first Google Penguin update dates back to 2012, but until now it had been unable to take effect on the fly. In the past, it depended on periodic ‘refreshes’ to determine how it processed data meaning that changes could go unnoticed until the next update. However, in Penguin 4.0, everything is now refreshed regularly which can be a good thing or a bad one depending on your SEO practices.

In the past, if a website was attempting to resolve a penguin penalty, it could be months or even years before Google reviewed the changes and make a new judgement based on backlink quality. Under Penguin 4.0, all it takes is a few hours for the penalties to be eradicated. On the negative side, the new update could lead to online businesses and brands analyzing their backlinks frequently since Penguin 4.0 crawls each page constantly.

Penguin 4.0 also alleges to be more thorough with its inspections meaning that the analysis will go beyond off page signals such as backlinks and will likely encompass content, keyword groups, domains, and sub-folders targeted by the referring domain.

While the new update might sound like websites will be under a bigger microscope, the precision does come with its benefits. Penguin 4.0 will now make determinations for adjustments to ranking based on spam signals, which means that penalties will be targeted towards particular websites as opposed to the whole website.

This will be good news for websites that run their websites honestly but occasionally make mistakes on some pages. No longer will entire websites disappear from the search engines after making small mistakes.

To ensure that pages on your website are not subjected to Google’s penalties, it is good to avoid being too aggressive with keyword repetition and anchor text usage. It is also critical to analyze backlinks regularly to keep up with the pace of Penguin 4.0.

Penguin 4.0 has led some people to believe that link building is dead and no longer relevant in 2017. However, as discussed in the previous paragraphs, this is just not true. If fact, Penguin 4.0 has made link building more relevant than ever. In addition, quicker assessment times means that it is now easier for online brands and businesses to correct their mistakes and either start or continue enjoying good rankings.

It is always good to remember that none of the key ranking factors i.e. content, user experience, and link building run in isolation. Therefore, when discussing link building it is still important to think about the end user first by providing a quality user experience, quality and engaging content, and quality links. The 3 ranking factors are like the wheels of a car and without one, the others will soon fail.


Final Thoughts

So, is link building important for ranking websites in 2017? The answer is yes. Link building is one of the most important ranking factors in 2017. If fact, building links will probably remain as a key ranking factor for the foreseeable future. Google may not have come out explicitly encouraging link building but the new Penguin 4.0 update has made the message clear that links are not only important but they are here to stay as an important ranking factor. If done in the right way, link building is one of the most effective and safest strategies for improving rankings. This is why we take great pride in our RankCrew Manual Link Building Packages.