Los Angeles | October 2, 2023 – The landscape of SEO has undergone significant transformations over the years, with one of its core pillars, backlinks, being no exception. In this article, we delve into the evolving perspective of Google regarding the significance of backlinks, as articulated by key figures within the company, and how this impacts contemporary SEO strategies.
Gary Illyes, a notable authority at Google, has stated that backlinks are no longer ranked among the top three factors influencing Google’s search rankings. This declaration signifies a substantial shift in how Google assesses and ranks web pages within its search results.
In 2016, @andreylipattsev/, a respected strategist specializing in search quality at Google, highlighted that the presence of inbound links pointing to your website was one of the primary trifecta determinants affecting rankings in Google Search. These rankings were simultaneously influenced by content quality and the enigmatic algorithm known as RankBrain.
Nonetheless, Google’s search algorithm is in a perpetual state of evolution, and it now appears that other factors hold more sway in determining website rankings. At a recent Pubcon Pro event in Austin, Gary Illyes, an analyst on Google’s Search team, made the following observation: “I believe links are important, but I think people overestimate their significance. I don’t believe they are in the top three, and they haven’t held that position for quite some time.”
Illyes also mentioned an intriguing case where a website managed to consistently rank number one without any links, either internal or external. This exceptional performance was attributed to the website’s exceptional content, which Google discovered through the website’s sitemap.
While the specific factors that have surpassed links in importance weren’t explicitly outlined, Google has increasingly emphasized factors such as content quality, user experience, mobile-friendliness, page speed, and even the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning in recent years. This reflects Google’s ongoing commitment to delivering the most relevant and high-quality search results to users.
John Mueller from Google stated on the Search Off the Record podcast that links will gradually lose some of their importance as a ranking factor: “Well, it’s something where I imagine, over time, the weight placed on links will diminish as we become better at understanding how content fits into the broader context of the web. However, links will always matter to some extent because they are essential for discovering web pages. It’s akin to how you locate a page on the web without some form of reference. But I anticipate that over time, links won’t carry the same weight they do today. This is already a trend that’s been evolving.”
It is imperative for webmasters and SEO professionals to stay abreast of these shifts in Google’s ranking algorithm in order to adapt their strategies effectively and continue enhancing the visibility of their websites in search results.
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