The benefits of backlinks beyond SEO

Google’s search algorithm puts so much emphasis on backlink accumulation that link builders can overlook the value of a link beyond search. Yes, quality backlinks can carry tremendous weight and help bring your site to the top of a competitive SERP.

That’s not the only purpose of a link, however.

Even though the majority of my company’s clients are primarily interested in search traffic, link building can certainly be used for other purposes. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Reference traffic
  • Branding
  • building authority
  • Building relationships
  • Promotion

I understand that there is some hesitation when it comes to researching links in today’s SEO environment. Even though links are unquestionably an important ranking signal, Google likes to engage in a full-scale FUD offensive every now and then. They are currently in the middle of one of these very often. They do this in an effort to ward off spammers/black hat SEOs.

My mentor Eric Ward once said, “Look for the links you’d want even if Google didn’t reward them.” I echoed this for a long time. Not only will this actually lead to links that Google is likely to appreciate, but it will also provide other marketing benefits.

Reference traffic

According to the conductor, search engines drive about 47% of online traffic. From all sources, search engines represent a plurality of directed traffic. But that means the majority of the traffic is independent of search engine rankings. According to the same Conductor study, non-social referral visits account for 15% of internet traffic. Even using Conductor’s sample size of 310 million visits, that’s 4.7 million referral clicks.

This is my way of saying that links don’t just lead to search engine traffic. A well-placed link on an authority site can direct an abundance of referral traffic.

Never underestimate the value of a good click. You should always prioritize hunting for search traffic over referral traffic. Just think of referral traffic as the pretty crux of the show.


consider this. The University of Arkansas recently conducted an experiment in which subjects listened to two different mixes of the same piece of music, one in its original form, the other edited so that a segment of it this is looped. Subjects reported liking this latest version much more. The researchers attributed this to the simple exposure effect, a phenomenon in which people come to like things and concepts simply out of familiarity.

The links are visible to the public, or they should be anyway. If you build links that are not visible to the naked eyewait for your penalty.

Since links are visible to users and not just search engines, link building can be used for branding.

Branding is marketing 101. Consumers/readers trust established brands, even if those brands have done things that would normally lead to a negative reputation.

In today’s world of SEO, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the diversity of anchor texts. Google doesn’t like sites that use the same keyword-rich anchor text over and over again.

So, along with keyword and white noise anchors, brand anchors should definitely be part of your link profile.

This is a good thing. Being “forced” to use your brand name as an anchor is an easy way to get your name out there. Even if a user doesn’t click the first time they see your name, the more that user sees your name, the more that user will be compelled to click. And once they click, they’re directed to the biggest branding opportunity you have: your site.

There’s no better representation of your brand than your website, and link building is a valuable way to get people to look at your brand in all its glory.


So your name is out there now. As I said before, established brand names can still thrive even when they have a negative reputation. Denny had a great 2013. Now take a look at what their customers think of them.

That said, wouldn’t it be better if your brand had a reputation as an authority in your niche?

I’m not talking about authority in digital form like domain authority; most consumers don’t know what domain authority is. I’m talking about being associated as a know-it-all. Sure, everyone hated the know-it-all in the K-12 school years, but it’s 2014: geeks are pretty cool now.

Getting links from authority sites is a great way to gain some authority over you. Not only is the link considered a vote of confidence by search engines, but more importantly, it is considered a vote of confidence by users.

Relationship building

If you build links without building relationships, you are wrong.

I can’t stress enough how easy link building is when you have connections within your niche to lean on.

Let’s say your primary online strategy for gaining visibility is through social media. Building a legitimate following on social media is one of the hardest tasks to follow along this path. When I say legit, I mean gain followers without bios like this:

Have you ever thought that you could gain followers outside of social media settings? This happens to me frequently. I get a few followers every time I get a link, and most of the time the followers are people I’ve never talked to in the social media realms.

Building relationships leads to visibility, no matter where you want to be seen.

Our link building campaigns have often created new relationships for customers that have brought benefits outside of SEO. Consider partnership or advertising opportunities. Without our link building services, these relationships would not exist.


So you have great content. Now what? As awesome as, say, your infographic might be, people won’t find it without being directed to it.

You may be thinking, “What about social media? Wouldn’t it be easier to share it on our social networks? »

I will never advocate being absent on social media. Even though social cues are is not part of Google’s algorithmthey have indirect effects on rankings.

Even though social media is an effective method of promotion, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also build links in your promotion efforts.

Without repetitive sharing, social media shares tend to be buried fairly quickly. A bond can ostensibly live forever. Example:

Not It's All About Ranking: The Benefits of Backlinks Beyond SEO

This is a screenshot of the links page for the 1996 film space jam. Yes, the site is still online.

You will notice that the first link is clicked. It points here:
Not It's All About Ranking: The Benefits of Backlinks Beyond SEO

This is the site of National Basketball Associationnot a cached copy of 1996. The Wizards did not exist that year.

Having a link on an organized list of resources has the potential to send traffic for years.

If you have an important product launch or policy/staff change that you want to bring out to the world, just submit it to a press release site. Not only will you get links from the press release sites, but you will get even more from all the other sites that grab the press release.

Links to press releases may not have a ton of SEO value, but again, we’re not talking SEO value here. Submitting press releases has been and still is an effective method of promotion.


To recap, links have benefits beyond increasing search visibility. Links can:

  • Generate referral traffic
  • Help build your brand
  • Helps establish authority
  • Build relationships that will be beneficial in the future
  • Promote anything you want to promote

Of course, I would say that building search visibility should be the number one goal of any campaign. I’m just saying that you should also keep these five things in mind.

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