Contrarian Marketing
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#35 Do backlinks still matter for SEO?

#35 Do backlinks still matter for SEO?

The Contrarian Marketing Podcast

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Backlinks have always been a hot topic in the world of SEO. They play a crucial role in improving a website's search engine ranking and overall visibility. But when it comes to backlinks, not all links are created equal. In this blog post, we're going to dive into a LinkedIn poll that raises an interesting question: Which would you prefer - a deep link on The New York Times website or a front page link on Reddit for 24 hours? Let's explore the insights and varying perspectives on the value of these two backlinks.

New York Times or Reddit?

According to the LinkedIn poll, the majority of respondents favored a deep link on The New York Times website over a front page link on Reddit. The preference for The New York Times link is primarily based on its perceived value from an SEO perspective. The New York Times is a highly authoritative and reputable website, and a backlink from such a site can significantly boost a website's credibility and search engine rankings.

The Business Value of a Reddit Front Page Link

However, when we consider the broader business objectives, the front page link on Reddit may hold more value. While Reddit may not have the same level of authority as The New York Times, it has a massive user base and can potentially reach hundreds of thousands of people within 24 hours. This kind of exposure can lead to direct engagement, retargeting opportunities, and potential conversions.

Perspectives on Backlink Value

The differing perspectives on the value of these backlinks highlight the distinction between SEO considerations and broader business objectives. From an SEO standpoint, The New York Times link is seen as more valuable due to its influence on search engine rankings. On the other hand, the front page link on Reddit offers the potential for direct business impact through increased visibility and engagement.

Real-World Examples

To further illustrate the potential impact of backlinks, let's take a look at a couple of real-world examples. Hoppin, a company worth $7.7 billion two years ago, recently sold its assets to Ring Central for a significantly lower price of $15,000,000.01. This sale raises concerns about the company's declining value and whether Ring Central may have overpaid for the assets. It highlights the potential difference between a link that Google sees as valuable and a link that generates direct business impact.

Similarly, Overstock recently purchased the brand assets of Bed Bath & Beyond, which had filed for bankruptcy. The purchase included a domain with 43,000 unique backlinks, estimated to have a value of almost $15 million. This acquisition not only provided Overstock with valuable backlinks but also led to a significant increase in their stock price. It shows how backlinks can play a role in enhancing a brand's overall value and market position.

The Importance of Backlinks in SEO

Eli, one of the voices in the LinkedIn poll, believes that backlinks have not mattered in the same way for many years. He suggests that contextual power is more important than domain authority when it comes to backlinks. To have an impact, the article that links to a website should be topically relevant. This aligns with the idea that backlinks that drive traffic and are more likely to be clicked will have higher quality and, therefore, be more valuable.

While backlinks may have lost some of their importance over time, they can still make a significant difference for a website's rankings. AI algorithms, like those used by Google, play a role in how websites are ranked based on backlinks. Manipulating backlinks has become more complex due to AI and the intricacies of search engine algorithms. However, building good backlinks remains an essential part of any comprehensive SEO strategy.


Backlinks continue to be a crucial component of SEO strategies. While their significance may have evolved over time, backlinks still have the potential to positively impact a website's visibility and authority. The relevance and quality of backlinks are considered more important than their sheer quantity. Building a strong backlink profile requires producing backlink-worthy content and establishing a strong brand presence.

Although the debate over the value of backlinks from high-profile sites like The New York Times versus highly trafficked platforms like Reddit continues, it ultimately depends on the goals and objectives of each website and its business. SEO considerations and broader business objectives may influence preferences and strategies when it comes to backlinks. By understanding the nuances and varying perspectives, you can make informed decisions on how to leverage backlinks effectively for your website's success.

Contrarian Marketing
Contrarian Marketing Podcast
Once a week, Eli and Kevin share contrarian marketing opinions about the topic du jour to give you ideas you might not be thinking about.
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Kevin Indig
Eli Schwartz