Google: Links Now Have Less Impact On Rankings Than In The Past

A little-known fact was revealed during a Google SEO office hours video- backlinks have less of an impact on rankings than they used to in the past.

Link-building is a popular SEO strategy.

When it was released, Google’s search algorithm was better than its competitors due to links and anchor text signals.

Search engine optimization used to be about optimizing the content of a website, mainly the titles and headings, with keywords.

Google realized that links were the key to better rankings when they came onto the scene.

Once Google penalized sites for overusing links, whole industries rose to service the need for links. One example of this is web directories and link selling brokers.

There are many different ways to build links. For example, you can reciprocate by linking to sites that link to you and by commenting on forums.

Recent updates to Google’s algorithms have made it harder for bad links to impact your rankings. Until 2012, controlling the amount of spam on your website was difficult. Updates like the Penguin algorithm and other infrastructure changes have helped make sure that establishing a good backlink profile is easier than ever before.

For a while now, Google has been getting better at discerning authentic links from ones that have been created artificially.

We’re still not sure exactly how to measure the impact links have, but they’re still considered one of the most important factors in content quality.

John Mueller recently said that links may play a less importance role in ranking, speculating that they may decrease in importance.

“Over time, we expect the weight given to links will drop off a little as we find out how content is best arranged on the web.”

SEO experts are noticing less of an impact from backlinks today.

Google has discovered that links have less of an impact today, contradicting many people’s expectations.

But while we may be associating a stronger link signal with more weight than Google did in the past, it’s important to keep in mind that when Google first started, there weren’t many strong links.

The old question about links came up in relation to Google’s use of backlinks and whether link building campaigns are currently allowed.

Once upon a time Google made rules about the amount of backlinks it would allow for their ranking algorithm. But then, go figure, they decided to break said rule and use them as a ranking factor anyway.

Is there anything Google can learn from to detect websites using “black hat” SEO practices?

Google’s answer:

Let’s start with a few things Coach Z has said in the past.

Backlinks have a much less significant impact in Google’s search algorithm, when viewed on a timeline. In the early days of Google Search, backlinks were the only thing that mattered to search.

Our robust ranking signals ensure that you’ll have relevant and useful results at the top of your searches.

In the beginning, links had a big impact on search results. Google has become smarter over time and less types of links can have an impact on your search ranking.

From Google’s perspective, it’s unclear if they were discussing more than just the kinds of links that still carry weight.

Google’s software trains a neural network by showing it millions of YouTube videos, then asks the network to identify cats.
“If you give me an image of a cat, I can’t tell you what the sentence says,” says a member of Google Brain. “But if I see enough things that say ‘well, this is a type of cat, and here are its features,’ then all of sudden I can start to figure out that this particular pattern might be important for identifying cats.”

“Second, we don’t permit full link building campaigns, which can be seen as a form of spam in our service.

Our AI will identify any unnatural links and take them out to create a natural SEO strategy.

This is how we avoid wasting money building links that may be nullified by our system.

Links are still important

A website’s rank is dependent on a number of different factors, but links are an integral part. Google discovers web pages through links.

Google’s own documentation states that links are the main way Google finds websites, and they also encourage publishers to promote their sites.

According to the documentation:

Google also finds pages through links from other web pages. Learn how to encourage people to visit your website by Promoting your Website.

Look who’s talking!

Although search engines have improved their capacity to find spammy or irrelevant content, they rely heavily on the number of links pointing to a website.

Natural links created as a result of others linking to a site are used by Google to create a link graph.

The few statements in this article lead to a lot of unanswered questions.

Did the Googler mean that links that Google uses for ranking have less impact than in the past?

Some link build campaigns are centered on asking others to share details about your site and ask for a link. These kinds of links usually don’t last long and have a worse signal, so they’re considered spam.

The Google employee referenced “link building campaigns” – are they talking about campaigns to pay for guest posts or link insertions into articles?

The answers that are given are a good starting point, but the Google office hours is conducted from the searcher’s desktop and not live.

This means that questions cannot be asked, which makes some answers less useful.


The featured image is by Asier Romero/Shutterstock

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