20 Feb 2014

Links Are Dead! Long Live Links!

Probably one of the most hotly debated topics over the last several years with in the SEO industry as been the current relevance of links with in search engines ranking algorithms. Even before filters such as Penguin and Panda, SEOs long speculated that social signals were taking over as the predominant trust signal.

I will even admit that at first I had my doubts about social signals replacing links, but then started seeing significant gains on client and personal sites that utilized social signals, especially when verified authorship is implemented correctly.

However, now Matt Cutts is telling the world that links will likely always be a dominant ranking factor. In the video below (released just yesterday), Cutts explains that Google has tried ranking sites with out links as a factor, and the results were “horrible”.


Conclusion: Things Are Getting More Complex

So now we know that links are likely here to stay. But what about those social signals I talked about earlier? Well those are likely to stick around as well. Then there are also a few hundred other ranking factors that we haven’t even mentioned yet. :)

The most predictable thing about Google, isn’t their algorithm or ranking factors, it is their constant adaptation to the internet’s culture and environment. In five year social media may take a back seat to mobile usage  factors. Theres really no telling, which is why the algorithms seem to get more and more nuanced as the years go by.

However, in my opinion there are still three fundamental aspects to successful SEO that will exist as long as search engines are running:

  1. Providing content, products, or services, that are closely aligned with your target user’s intent.
  2. Having a strong well built technical infrastructure to host your content.
  3. Heavily integrating said content and technical infrastructure into networks or communities where your target user is most prevalent.

Stick with those three rules as guiding principles and you should be constantly in the right direction. :)