Leaving Work Behind

Why You Should Care Less About Backlinking

Written by Tom Ewer on August 10, 2011. 13 Comments

Why You Should Care Less About BacklinkingEveryone has their pet peeves. I probably have more than most. One of my biggest pet peeves has to be the phrase, “I could care less”.  I have just spent the last five minutes trying to type out a detailed explanation as to why the phrase simply does not make sense, and how it has no possible defence, but am now giving up out of exasperation. It is just frustrating me too much.

I felt I needed to include the above just to make absolutely sure you grasped the intended message of this article, which is: backlinking is the supposed holy grail of search engine optimization, and you are thinking about it far too much (in my humble opinion).

If you are at all familiar with this blog then you will know that I am not in the business of creating “set and forget” sites that offer little or no real value to the end user. I am all about creating value, and I have a staunch aversion to compromise on that front. So, please understand that my advice comes from the perspective of someone who is looking to create value. What I have to say may not apply to those who are looking for something a little more relaxed in terms of quality content. And I have no problem with that at all – far be it from me to judge. However, it would be remiss of me to mislead you.

Now, are the rest of you sitting comfortably? Good.

Why Should I Care Less About Backlinking?

Backlinking is extremely important when it comes to search engine optimization. You should be working hard to get plenty of high quality backlinks to your blog. Ideally you will be doing this by persuing a white hat SEO strategy, but that is not always the best way to go.

Backlinking is not however the be all and end all. It certainly shouldn’t form the genesis of your blog creation. And you’re probably about to call me absolutely mad, but you don’t even need to have a backlinking strategy to create a successful online business.


Question: if you have a blog, with twenty original articles already published, but with no backlinks, what do you have?

Answer: a blog.

Question: if you have a website domain, with no content on it, with eight thousand backlinks, what do you have?

Answer: nothing.

Backlinking is completely pointless without content. A website can survive without backlinks – it cannot survive without content.

Now there may be some amongst you who are thinking that you can get away with producing low quality content. That backlinking is king, and that as long as you can get visitors onto your site, you can convert them, even with poor quality content.

And you may be right – but you won’t be forever (or for long, most likely).

Google’s aim is to show quality content to its end users. If it fails on that front, it is no longer of use to anyone. We are all familiar with how powerful Google is. How countless people who are far more intelligent than you and I are constantly working on Google’s algorithms. If you are not providing quality content, you will eventually get found out – regardless of how many backlinks you have.

Love Your End User

If I could give just one piece of advice regarding authority sites, it would be this:

Love your end user. Put yourself in their shoes. Do they get value from what you produce? If not, you need to go back to the drawing board.

We are all guilty of producing crap at times. It happens – we are human. However, in a perfect world, your aim should always be to produce fantastic content for your audience. As Corbett Barr so eloquently put it: write epic shit.

Quality Content > Backlinking

Producing valuable content for your end user trumps your most effective backlinking strategy in the long run, hands down. And when you are in the business of producing authority sites, you should always be thinking long term.

I am not saying you shouldn’t be actively pursuing a backlinking campaign – you absolutely should be. However, you should be putting even more effort into your content creation. You should be pouring sweat and tears into creating a truly valuable resource for people to find; you shouldn’t be worrying as much about how they are going to find it.

I am not saying, “If you build it, they will come”. I am saying, “If you build quality and let them know it is there, they will come, and hang around”. If you produce poor content and let even more people know it is there, they will come – and then they will leave. What is the point in producing a #1 ranking authority website on Google if no one wants to hang around?

There are many out there amongst you whose workload balance is struck well in favour of backlinking. I know this because I have been (and in weak moments, still am) one of those people. I hope you seek to redress that balance, as I am sure it will have wonderful long term benefits.

Photo courtesy of Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

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13 Responses to “Why You Should Care Less About Backlinking”

  1. Richard Scott
    August 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I cared less about backlinking for over 4 years for my main niche site. I wanted to let Google do the natural thing and it worked out pretty well. I got a ton of organic searches and backlinks. On my other, newer, niche sites though I am wanting to see faster growth so I am diving into the backlinking world (one toe at a time).

    No matter how easy people make it sound, it’s not. Trying to get people in your own niche to allow your comment, even if it’s a great one, is not so cut and dry. Most people in the same niche don’t want the chance of losing a sale. No one wants to team up and form communities and circles of friends like the MMO bloggers do. It’s something I’d like to start in my field, but when it comes down to certain niches, products and authority sites, it’s just not going to happen.

    That’s why I go back and focus on content. That’s what I care about the most.

    • Tom Ewer
      August 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      Sounds great Richard – backlinking is advised as part of a balanced blog-building diet 😉

      I agree that certain niches can be more difficult in terms of backlinking, especially when it comes to blog commenting. Perhaps you should focus a little more on forums, link wheels and social media?

  2. Jayne
    August 11, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Hey Tom, you know what I love about this post? It’s really about setting priorities. I have just spent a day scrambling all over my mental landscape trying to accomplish 100 different things. Exhausted, I read your post and realized I had forgotten to set priorities. It’s such a simple thing, and so easily overlooked.

    Valuable, high quality content comes before back linking. Chasing back links without already having the content is, as you say, wasted time.

  3. Ryan Biddulph
    August 11, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Hi Tom,

    Great reminder here.

    To get backlinks, you need a site worth linking to. Many run around like chickens with their head cut off, not tending to their chicken coop – aka home base, aka their blog – before trying to get back links.

    Provide valuable content which improves people’s lives. Make that step 1, and adopt a consistent backlink building campaign from there.

    Thanks for sharing.


  4. Michael Sweet
    August 11, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Its a little bit like the chicken and the egg syndrome. Which one comes first? But does make complete sense to focus the vast majority of the time on quality content that gets linked to rather than poor content with shabby pointless links.

  5. Kent @ Niche Site Tips
    March 2, 2012 at 4:00 am

    This is so true that the content matters. I do get some search traffic to my site, but they don’t stay long, I guess my posts don’t answer their questions.

    For my niche sites, I do have decent conversion rates so I do make good profit via Amazon Affiliate.

    After all, I agree so much that Great Content > Backlinking. I outsource half and half on this and hope to make a break-through on my Adsense niche site portfolio. I guess I haven’t focus enough yet.

    Tom, I’m working on my Adsense Case Study and focusing all-in March. Hope I could exchange some notes with you later.

  6. Ashley Jones
    June 28, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    I have been blogging for almost 5 years, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I truly saw the power of commenting. As soon as I started commenting on different blogs, I noticed the traffic to my site increased. By utilizing the commentluv plugin on those blogs, I also notice traffic from the commentluv links.

    Usually posts that provide a list of items, I will usually mention a few items that I thought were the most important aspect of the topic. Or I like to add my own item to the list ;).

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