The Evolution of Backlinks: Do They Still Matter in 2024?

By May 14, 2024 May 29th, 2024 SEO
Evolution of Backlinks

Before we start wondering if backlinks are still a thing in 2024, you should know what backlinks are and how do they work. So, imagine the online world is like a big, always-changing playground for businesses and websites. In this playground, there’s this thing called SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which is like a set of rules to make sure your website gets noticed when people search on Google or Bing.

Now, one of the coolest players in this game has always been “backlinks.” These are like friendly arrows that point from one website to another. The more arrows you have, the more the playground supervisors (search engines like Google) think your site is trustworthy. Backlinks are links found on other websites that direct people to your website. Think of it as borrowing some traffic from other websites and bringing it over to your own. The best way to describe backlinks are they are a form of digital referrals.

What is a backlink?


If you are a patient and ask your dentist, who’s the best orthodontist, he’ll refer you to someone.  You’re more likely to trust that referral as they are in the same field.  Now if you’re asking about a mechanic to your dentist, and he makes a referral, that’s probably a bit less trustworthy since it’s a different niche. As we hop into 2024, it’s like checking if these arrows still make a big difference in the playground rules. Do they still have that superpower to make your site stand out? Let’s find out!

History of backlinks 

Back in the early days of the online rulebook (SEO), search engines had a simple idea: the more links(referrals/backlinks) linking back to a website, the more important it seemed. It was like saying, “Hey, lots of people are talking about this place, so it must be great!” But, some players tried to cheat by doing something called “link farming.” It’s like trading lots of arrows with friends (i.e. link exchange) to trick the search engines (playground supervisors) into thinking you’re super popular.

Google’s Algorithm Updates

As time passed, especially for the big boss of the online playground (Google), they realized they needed smarter rules.  They had a new upgrade called Google Penguin. This superhero upgrade was all about stopping the bad guys (link spammers) and giving a high-five to quality. Instead of just counting how many arrows (backlinks) you have, now it’s more about where they come from, how important those places are, and if they’re top-notch quality. It’s like saying, “Okay, it’s not just about having a lot of arrows; they have to be really, really good ones!” 

Does Google considers number of Backlinks 

John Mueller spokesperson of Google made it clear that the total number of backlinks a website has isn’t important to Google’s search algorithm. He emphasized that having just one good link from a relevant website can have a bigger impact than having a hundred low-quality links. Mueller shared this insight during the Google Search Central SEO hangout on February 19, 2021.

What Google really cares about when it comes to links is how relevant each link is to the website it’s pointing to. This is the key factor in determining the importance of individual links. In other words, the overall quantity of links is not a big deal to Google.

Mueller explained that “We try to understand what is relevant for a website, how much we should weigh these individual links, and the total number of links doesn’t matter at all. Because you could go off and create millions of links across millions of websites if you wanted to, and we could just ignore them all.”

The Rise of Content Quality

When updates like Google Panda arrived in 2011 on the scene, there was a big shift in what websites should focus on. Now, it’s all about making really good and helpful information for people. Websites were like, “Let’s make awesome things that people love!”

This change affected our magical arrows, the backlinks. They needed to be from trusted places and fit perfectly with what the website was talking about. So, it’s not just about having arrows from anywhere; they have to be from the right places and make sense with the cool stuff on the website. That way, everyone on the internet is happy!

The Changing Landscape in 2024

As we journey through 2024, the relevance of backlinks is still there, but the way they work has changed a bit. Here’s the lowdown on what matters:

1. Quality Over Quantity:

Think of it like having a few super-duper connected friends. Search engines like Google really like it when your website has these top-notch, really important backlinks. It’s like having VIP friends in the online world.

2. Contextual Relevance:

Imagine you’re talking about superheroes; you’d want your friends (backlinks) to also be into superheroes, right? That’s what contextual relevance is about. Your backlinks should be from websites that are all about the same stuff you’re talking about.

3. Diversity of Sources:

It’s like having friends from different places—some you meet at the  library, some at school (i.e. edu backlinks) , and some from the fun hangout spots. Search engines like it when your backlinks come from all these different places because it shows your website is liked by lots of different groups.

4. Natural Link Building:

Imagine if you made friends by being yourself and not pretending to be someone you’re not. That’s what search engines like—real, honest connections. They frown upon trying to cheat the system with fake friends (i.e. private blog networks). They want your website to attract friends naturally cause they are generally attracted to what you have to say and what you represent.

5. User Experience and Engagement:

It’s not just about having friends; it’s about having fun with them. Search engines notice if people like hanging out on your website. If they stay a long time and don’t leave too quickly, it’s like saying, “This is a great place!” That indirectly helps you get more friends (backlinks) because everyone loves a good time.

So, in the internet adventure of 2024, it’s not just about having friends (backlinks); it’s about having the best friends who love the same things you do and genuinely enjoy being with you!

Let’s Break Down Some Info About Backlinks:

  • Almost all the top 100 popular websites have at least one link from another website pointing to them.
  • More than half of the folks who promote things online believe that adding these links can help a website show up higher on Google searches.
  • The websites that grab the first spot on Google usually have almost four times as many links as the other nine websites in the top 10.
  • Surprisingly, more than 65% of web pages out there don’t have any links from other sites.
  • When content is longer (like a big article), it tends to get a lot more links compared to shorter content.
  • If someone wants to buy a link for their website, on average, it costs about $361.44.
  • The number of different websites linking to a page is the thing that matters the most when it comes to how high a page shows up on Google (i.e. old school Page Rank).


Jumping into 2024, backlinks are still a big deal in the world of making websites popular, but the game has changed a bit. Now, it’s not just about having a bunch of them; it’s about having the best ones that fit perfectly.

So, picture this: instead of having loads of so-so friends, it’s better to have a few amazing ones who really get you (i.e. quality vs. quantity). Search engines, like Google, love it when your website has these super important and relevant backlinks.

The rules now say that your backlinks need to be real cool. They should be from places that love the same stuff you talk about on your website. It’s like having friends who are interested.

Search engines also want your backlinks to come from all sorts of different places, not just one. It’s like having buddies from school, from the park, and from your favorite bar. This shows that you are  liked by all sorts of people and they find what you have to say intriguing.

Here’s the best part: instead of trying to fake it and make fake backlinks, search engines want you to be yourself. They want your website to attract people naturally because it provides value to others. So, focus on creating stuff that people really love and want to share.

Even though things have changed a bit, backlinks are still like your secret weapon in the online adventure. They help your website become super important and visible to everyone out there. So, keep making valuable stuff and watch those great backlinks make your website shine.



Dhruv has over 20 years of experience in technology and development, spanning various business sectors. He has worked with several Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, as well as numerous startups in the technology industry. His vision for the company is to become a global lifestyle brand that influences the next generation of marketing, software development, and branding as the internet enters its third evolution cycle and impacts all aspects of life. In his free time, Dhruv enjoys immersing himself in different cultures through travel, as well as fishing, cooking, reading, playing chess, and tennis.