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Scenario and evolution of link building in the Italian market

Paolo Dello Vicario

For at least a decade, that old adage has been recurring in the world of digital marketing that SEO is “dead” or about to be. Well, among many evolutions and changes – of approach, techniques and algorithms – search engine optimization still exists and remains an indispensable arrow in the bow of digital strategists. 

What about link building? As an operational “rib” of SEO, backlink acquisition activity is still considered an essential component of an effective plan because of its ability to build awareness and improve rankings. Or is it? 

We decided to thoroughly probe the state of link building in the Italian market, conducting a field survey through two methodologies: on the one hand, a survey among more than 150 professionals from the Italian SEO and Digital Marketer Community, and on the other hand, an analysis of about 150 cross-sectoral websites, with a focus on the backlink profile. 

The evidence that emerged has been collected in our latest white paper, which can be downloaded in full at this link


Which industries are most accustomed to the use of link building

The first part of our analysis is aimed at understanding which industries do the most link acquisition campaigns: beauty, fashion and the sports world are on the podium, followed by e-commerce in the broadest sense. 

Now, does doing a lot of link building mean doing it well or uniquely? It would seem not, indeed, sometimes acquiring a high number of links turns out to be inversely proportional to their quality, for example in beauty. 


Techniques, metrics and job titles: how Link Acquisition perception changes by role

We talked about the quality of backlinks, which is closely related to the technique used to acquire them. But what are the techniques preferred by various industry professionals? 

Guest posting, i.e., the most natural way of link building by posting good content on informative sites that are in line with the topic, is the first item on the list for most respondents. Only webmasters who are less accustomed to SEO continue to use directories, while in-house SEOs of big brands also engage in pure online PR for awareness. 

For more technical metrics, such as anchor text distribution, nofollow VS dofollow links, and image VS text links, please download the white paper in full from here

As far as activity measurement KPIs are concerned, role counts and shifting the scales on just a few metrics: average SERP ranking, visibility and traffic are the “holy triad” shared by all, but there is some curious evidence, such as the fact that in-house SEOs also consider relevant the very number of links generated, while freelancers value referral traffic.  


In conclusion, costs and benefits of Offsite SEO.

The budget invested in this kind of activity is another distinguishing factor between the roles of the respondents: in particular, at the extreme ranges we find website owners, who spend almost nothing on Link Building, and at the other extreme in-house SEOs for large Brands, who instead claim to invest over 20K annually. 

The last question of our survey, however, as well as the most open-ended and conclusive one, paradoxically put almost everyone in agreement.

Out of a maximum score of 5 points, we asked to quantify the effectiveness and importance of Link Building in the SEO strategy of our sample: the result was a good 4.5 out of 5.

Proving that this activity, regardless of the differences in execution, application and measurement seen above, is still considered central.