Monday, March 3, 2014

Are Links Losing Value in Google's Algorithm?

In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores both sides of the argument, offering some concrete advice to SEOs on how they can navigate today's waters.Here's the link to coverage of Google's testing removing links from the algorithm, and to the roundup post where links as a ranking signal are discussed (in particular, check out Russ Jones' reply in the comments). For reference, here's a still of this week's whiteboard!

So Google recently came out and talked about how they had tested a version of their search engine, of search quality algorithms, ranking algorithms, that did not include links as a ranking signal. Of course, a lot of SEOs went "Wait, they did what?"
But it turns out Google actually said they really did not like the results. They didn't like what they saw when they removed links from the ranking elements. So maybe SEOs are going, "Okay, can I breathe easy, or are they going to keep trying to find ways to take links out of the ranking equation?" Certainly, links for a long time have been an extremely powerful way for SEOs and folks to move the needle on indexation, on rankings, on getting traffic from search engines.
I'm going to personally come out and say that, in my opinion, we will continue to see links in Google's rankings systems for at least the next five and probably the next ten years. Whether they continue to be as important and as powerful as they've been, I think is worthy of a discussion, and I do want to bring up some points that some very intelligent marketers and SEOs have made on both sides of the issue.
So, first off, there are some folks who are saying, "No, this is crazy. Links are actually growing in value." I thought Russ Jones from Virante made some excellent comments on a recent blog post where some experts had been asked to do a thought experiment around what Google might do if links were to lose signals.
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