One of the longest-established and most familiar search engine optimisation (SEO) practices, is link building. This term refers to the efforts that many brands make to attract inbound links to their websites from other reputable and high-authority sites, to help improve their search engine rankings for relevant queries. Such links are known as “backlinks”.

However, you might have recently come across some online hype that “brand mentions are the new backlinks”. In truth, this is hardly a new opinion for anyone to express; the sentiment has been voiced in certain quarters for many years now.

What are ‘brand mentions’ – and are they genuinely replacing backlinks in importance?

A “brand mention” is essentially what it sounds like – a reference to a brand, company, or product, somewhere online, such as in a news article, blog post, or social media update. And as the term also implies, a brand can be mentioned somewhere online without a link necessarily being provided to the given brand’s website.

With entities, such as brands, gaining greater importance in the SEO landscape of today, even the mere mention of a brand – without a link – can be powerful for SEO.

It can help build visibility, trust, and credibility for that brand, while also helping to drive links (even if links aren’t exactly included every single time the particular brand is mentioned online).

But link building is far from ‘dead’!

We wrote last year on the Jumping Spider Media blog about how link building was still relevant even amid the emergence of various much-talked-about technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI). And of course, what we said then still applies strongly now.

However, the talk of brand mentions being important is not mere “hype”, either. Again, AI has much to do with this. As we speak, increasingly sophisticated large language models (LLMs) are continuing to be trained on text data drawn from the world’s most popular websites.

At the same time, AI is taking an ever-more prominent role in online search. If you have performed a Google search lately, you might well have seen an AI-generated response presented to you at the top of the search engine results page (SERP).

With text being what trains LLMs, which are in turn imperative to the operation of AI features that are becoming ever-more integrated into search engines, it is fair to say that text is becoming very important these days.

However, link building still has its own influential part to play in SEO; it is very far from being “over” in 2024, despite what you might have heard or read.

Our online marketing specialists are on hand to extract your brand’s potential

Would you like to find out more about how our SEO, link building, and broader digital marketing knowhow could put your brand in the optimal position to grow during the 2020s?

If so, you are very welcome to enquire to Jumping Spider Media’s experts today to arrange a review of your current website and SEO, and to discuss how we can help.