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According to Google, links may become less important in the future. But a recent survey contradicts Google’s prediction. The survey says that links continue to be a critical ranking factor.

The survey anonymously asked 755 professional link builders about how they build links, what works best / worst for them, and what it really takes to make link building work for their business.

Here’s a summary of the most interesting findings and key statistics:

  • 74.3% of link builders pay for links. We knew this number would be high, but didn’t expect it to be this high.
  • We broke down the specific amount being paid and found that the average cost of a paid link is $83.
  • However, when comparing those who pay for links VS those who don’t, we found that paying for links yields only an extra 2 links per month.
  • In-house SEOs pay 75% more for links than niche site owners. Nobody seems to have a problem spending other people’s money.
  • Looking at all links, when salaries are factored in, we found that experienced link builders can build links 41% cheaper.
  • It takes an average of 3.1 months to see the impact of a link on the search ranking, with very few saying it takes longer than 6 months or less than 1 month.
  • Guest posting is, by far, the most popular link-building tactic. It is somewhat contradictory to the point that the same people said creating content or linkable assets is the most effective link-building tactic.
  • Google has told us that nofollow is a hint, not a rule. Our participants agreed, as 89.1% of link builders say nofollow links have an impact on rankings.
  • Looking for a way to boost your results? Are you using social media for outreach? Link builders using social media build 22% more links than those who don’t.

This survey was published in November 2022, just before Google’s Link Spam Update. This update specifically targeted purchased links, showing that Google still considers links to be an important part of its ranking algorithm.

However, there is a possibility that Google is overestimating its ability to detect purchased links. Only time will tell if buying links is still a viable ranking strategy. So, for now, be careful and stay tuned for updates.

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