How Much Do Links Matter for SEO?

seo links

Have external links lost their importance or are they losing their importance? Do they still matter for rankings?

If you’re into SEO, you saw this debate gaining more and more popularity in the last few years.

Ahrefs did an experiment with their own website to see if their external links still contributed to SEO rankings and traffic.

They picked three articles and disavowed all links to these pages for a month.

This resulted in removing the value of 3,476 links across three blog posts.

The experiment lasted about one month, or approximately 28 days. Afterward, the external links have been restored by eliminating the disavowed file.

Here’s what happened to the three pages:

Page #1: “Top YouTube Searches (2021)”

This page lost 18% of search traffic in the month during the experiment. And it went down 4% even after restoring the links.

At this moment, it has recovered only 50% of that traffic.

Page #2: “SEO Pricing: ~350 Agencies, Consultants, and Freelancers Reveal How Much SEO Costs”

When the external links were disavowed, the page lost 13.3% of its traffic.

But it recovered 99% of it when the disavow file was eliminated.

The competition for this page was weak, and this is probably why Ahrefs quickly recovered the loss.

Page #3: “Top Bing Searches (2021)”

Since the competition was high for the search queries targeted by this page, they should’ve expected a big loss.

Yet, when they discarded the external links, there was barely any traffic drop.

But an interesting thing happened…

When they activated the external links, the traffic shot up by 44%.

Bottom line?

Links matter.

As Ahrefs affirms, they still have to recover from the traffic loss caused by this experiment.

And you should disavow pages with caution, since Google nowadays is doing a better job to mostly devalue the bad links for you.

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