Canonical Chronicle - Episode 52 - Is Link Building Still Important in 2020

In this video

In this week's Canonical Chronicle we talk about the value of Link Building in SEO 2020 - is off page SEO as potent as it used to be now that Google has got smarter with machine learning and AI? Or is it business as usual for all of you link builders out there? Based on our appraisal of link velocity to YMYL sites....backlinks still mater for SEO but perhaps not in the way that you think.

We ask some of the most prolific link builders in the industry to share some of their traffic graphs after building links to fresh domains to see what happened to their traffic.

Also, find out what happened to Ross' personal affiliate website after he bought some dodgy links to test the algorithm (spoiler alert: it's not pretty).

We discuss:

  • First week back for SEOs

  • What should you be focusing on in 2020 as an SEO

  • Is Link Building Still Important in 2020?

  • General Links as the degree that gets you the job

  • Factors that Affect Link Value

  • Links Power and Effectiveness is Relative to Trust Factors 

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I’m Ross Tavendale, the managing director of Type A Media, a creative search agency based in London. I make videos about business leadership, web technology, SEO, PPC and how I turned being a Type A personality into a business.


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- It's the first week back after the Christmas break, and SEOs everywhere are getting to the office, like: That is of course until we get our first audit in then we need to re-write a 100 titles and meta descriptions. And then we're like:

- ♪ I don't want to work. ♪ ♪ I just want to bang on this mug all day. ♪

- Well, if you're at work anyway, let's have a quick review of what we should be focusing on in 2020. Now, according to SEO Twitter we should focus on saying things that sound impressive but they don't actually mean anything. Quantum supremacy and nine things that'll flip on its head in 2020. Pro tip, if you have a webpage ranking near the top or on the second page of Google SERPs, give it a 2020 update for a rankings boost. Jesus Christ! I think SEO Twitter is making me dumber by the second. Update your titles and have a better 2020. I wonder how that pitch would go to one of our Fortune 500 clients?

- Hello?

- Fridge freezer you got for sale? Talk to me.

- You want to buy it?

- Tell me about a Fridge Freezer! Come on, sell me, sell me! Now, I was literally reading these tips, thinking that they'd been written by like some sort of article spinner. It kinda reads a little bit like this.

- The Prime Minister of Sweden visited Washington today and my tiny little nipples went to France.

- Anyway, never mind all that. Let's dive into if links still work in 2020. And to be honest this tweet by Philip Gamble kind of sums it all up for me. Now, as an agency, the main way we make our bread and butter is outreach to win links. And the fact that we sell that service has no way affected the advice you're about to get and this is all completely impartial.

- So is link building gonna be a thing in 2020? Well, we took to Facebook to ask around and it turns out not only is link building alive and well, it's actually thriving. Prominent US SEO Nick Eubanks shared this traffic change based on building links to a brand new domain. BeBe the Link Builder also shared this one after building some links to a brand new domain. And lastly Matt Woodward shared this one, this one, and this one after building links to a brand new domain. So are links the main thing you should focus on in 2020? Well, as Philip's tweet said, "Probably, but it kinda depends." On this one I really agree with Tom Capper from Distilled about his appraisal of links. He believes that you need links to get to the first page and be competitive but after that, there's way more factors at play. So let's think of links as education. You first get a degree to get your job and that gets you in the door. In SEO terms, you get your links to get you up to page one. So now you're on page one, you need a lot more relevant on-job experience which means better onpage optimization and better technical. Further to that you really need to get to the next level with some specialist training to get qualified in more complicated areas of the job. In SEO terms this means high-trust, very niche-relevant links. When it comes to links their power and effectiveness is very much relative to the trust factors around your site. Let's use the Mafia as an example.

- Say hello to my little friend!

- They don't have a power problem. They've got lots of money, plenty of power. And they can use that money to get what you want.

- There you go.

- Thank you, sir.

- There you go.

- Thank you, sir.

- There you go.

- Same when it comes to powerful links, you can build lots of high-metric links with high Citation Flow and high DR. But if there's a low Trust Flow you're gonna really, really struggle. Also, if you're not careful, you're gonna have negative side effects that hit your site. Case in point, here's the rankings on one of my affiliate sites after I built a bunch of dodgy links to a particular page. Ouch!

- So how should we building links in 2020? Well, guys, same rules apply. Make sure they're as editorial as possible. Make sure the site has traffic and is actually ranking for the keywords that you want to rank for. Be really careful with your Anchor text and opt for the content to be more topically targeted. And don't spend a bunch of time making sure you get the correct link anchors. That's everything for the first Canonical Chronicle of 2020. We hope you have a fantastic and well-optimized New Year. And until next time, we will see you later.