In the dynamic world of search engine optimization (SEO), link building is crucial in driving organic traffic and enhancing website visibility.
We conducted a comprehensive survey among SEO professionals and consultants to illuminate the evolving link-building strategies and tools landscape.
Our survey aimed to capture the respondents’ practices, preferences, and perceptions regarding link building. At the same time, our goal was to explore the impact of emerging technologies and recent Google updates.
We conducted our first link building survey in 2020. You can read it here: Link Building Survey 2020, COVID-19 Edition
Summary of Findings
To comprehensively understand the current link building trends, we surveyed a total of 150 SEO professionals. These professionals include individuals working in agencies, in-house SEO experts, and independent SEO consultants.
Here’s a high-level overview of what we found:
- 47.33% of SEO professionals plan to utilize AI tools such as Chat GPT or GPT-3 for link building in future campaigns.
- Regarding the impact of AI in the future of link building, 67.33% of the professionals think it will have a positive effect, while 3.33% fear that AI will leave them jobless.
- The top three link-building methods utilized by respondents in the past 12 months were content creation and outreach (76.67%), guest posts (75.33%), and competitor backlink analysis (64.67%).
- The top link building tool utilized by respondents for themselves or their clients was SEMRush (86.1%). When asked about the single SEO tool they would use if they only had to choose one, a majority 39.33% picked Ahrefs.
- Most respondents (62.67%) reported an average monthly link-building budget of under $1000.
- The main KPI used by respondents to measure the results of their link-building efforts was keyword rankings (77.33%).
- Survey participants emphasized sites with suspicious backlink profiles (61.33%) as their top red flag indicator for link building.
- 34.67% of participants observed a positive impact of link building on SERP rankings following Google’s recent E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) update. 34% mentioned there was no impact, but 26.67% said that the update caused their link-building efforts to be less effective.
- Participants perceived the rankings of link types as follows, from the most valuable to the least valuable: do-follow links, user-generated content, sponsored links, and no-follow links.
- Google’s Link Spam Update had varying impacts on the efficacy of building backlinks, with a significant portion of participants (23.33%) reporting no impact and improved SERP ranking (14%).
2020 vs 2023 Survey Highlights
Before stepping in to the details of this recent survey, let’s compare some of the key findings from the 2020 survey with the results of our 2023 survey.
1.a. Link Building Budget
There’s a big change in link building budgeting in 2023. A few years ago, only 45.21% of the respondents said that their budgets were below $1000. Now, 62.67% of the respondents are working around a tight budget.
1.b. Link Building Method
Comparing the link building methods chosen by SEO professionals in 2020 and 2023, we can notice a big drop in the preference for Content Creation and Outreach. From 50%, it went down to 28%.
1.c. Link Building Tool
Ahrefs still reigns as the most preferred link building tool in our 2023 survey. There may be a drop in votes from the 2020 survey. But it may be due to the new tools that have been released in the past 3 years.
1.d. Sentiment Analysis
Comparing the respondents’ emotions towards link building, we can conclude that there has been some improvement since there’s a big increase in positive sentiments.
The recent Google updates and the rise of AI tech may have played a big role in these differences.