It’s been a while since I wrote a post about backlinks. But it’s always worth re-iterating this.
In short, my stance on these has only become stronger, because Google has become even more clever.
The shortest answer to the backlink question is that having backlinks is very beneficial.
But the longer answer is actually more important. Google has become incredibly adept at working out which backlinks are natural (i.e., someone liked your site and linked to it) as opposed to bought, meaning you paid for them.
Natural backlinks help your SEO, generally speaking. As for manipulated ones, once Google realises what you’ve done (which can take a few months) they will usually hurt your rank, often quite drastically.
There are a lot of people selling what they called “safe” links, or “Google friendly links”. In truth Google is very clear that any attempt to buy or create links is contrary to their ethos and something they will try to find and penalise you for.
And they are very good at it.
The reason people still sell them is a quirk of Google’s algorithm. When Google first see new links come in for a site they will almost always improve that sites ranking. It’s not until they’ve seen the patterns emerge and they realise they were faked links that they penalise you.
So when someone first buys links they usually do see an improvement, and feel happy with the service that made them. Months later when their site takes a hit—it’s too late.
So, are backlinks good? Absolutely. Should you try to have them created on your behalf? Absolutely not.