As the curtains drew on another Brighton SEO, I was interested to hear some chatter about how Google is going to devalue links in the future.
Is this another chapter in the whole ‘SEO is dead’ novel, or is it just click bait?
To give it a bit of context, the focus on links arose in a Q&A session that included Google’s very own John Mueller. He lives life as a ‘Search Advocate’, which makes him one of the more public faces of the search giant and he bridges the gap between the search engine engineers and the web community. In short, he is a big cheese and you need to listen to what he says.
The question about the value of links, and his answer, can be heard in the extract below:
In true SEO community style, his comments were used to predict the death of links as a ranking factor and many link builders left the building to fall upon their swords.
In the real world, it is important to understand that he is NOT declaring links to be worthless and is simply saying that the weighting given to links may not be quite as high in the future. If you can’t listen to the audio, the relevant comments that Mueller made are:
“Well, it’s something where I imagine, over time, the weight on the links. At some point, will drop off a little bit as we can’t figure out a little bit better how the content fits in within the context of the whole web. And to some extent, links will always be something that we care about because we have to find pages somehow. It’s like how do you find a page on the web without some reference to it?”
“But my guess is over time, it won’t be such a big factor as sometimes it is today. I think already, that’s something that’s been changing quite a bit.”
It is a potential softening of the impact of some links, not a blanket announcement that links are dead. This is actually nothing new as the long toothed amongst us will remember Matt Cutts saying pretty much the same thing many moons ago. If there is one thing that you can rely on in life, it is for SEO ‘experts’ to get their knickers in a twist after every utterance from the search behemoth :-)
Let there be no doubt that links are extremely important for SEO and they remain the best way of demonstrating the credibility of your website – why else would anyone link to your content if they did not rate it highly? Of course, link building can be gamed and it is really important to focus on quality rather than quantity when trying to attract links to your website.
I expect that this is really what he is suggesting. Don’t waste your time chasing links en masse. Focus on your users and create engaging content that will naturally earn back links. I know that I am a bit preachy about this at times, but good content really is the cornerstone for good SEO. Whilst it is fine to amplify your content and try to get other sites to link to your amazing content, your initial focus must be the content that you are publishing. Ask yourself if you would link to it – if the answer is ‘probably not’, then you have to question whether that content actually deserves links from anyone. Good quality links remain critical to a successful SEO strategy but are just one piece of the complex jigsaw.
In short, link building is not dead, whatever you may hear on the SEO grapevine.