Links have long since been a large factor in Google’s search algorithm. SEOs know that building links to websites is an important part of their job in improving search engine visibility for websites. But will links continue to be a factor in Google’s search algorithm?
It is no secret that Google has been making major changes to its algorithm during the past few years, updates known as Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird all took place during this time. Although the main intent of these updates was to improve search results, a large part of Google’s efforts in these updates went into changing the way in which its algorithm measured links for ranking purposes.
In fact, Google recently discussed having tested its algorithm removing links as a ranking factor altogether, in a video by Matt Cutts.
Removing links as a search factor, and then testing the results, proved that links are vitally important to producing good search results. Cutts said that search results were lower quality during the testing of the algorithm minus links as a factor. Why would Google want to remove links as a factor when links and Page Rank have been at the core of its algorithm all these years? The answer: web spam.
Google’s Actions Against Webspam and How the Value of Links for SEO are Impacted
Because links are such a large ranking factor and thus an important SEO task, many automated and spammy link building practices have come into play over the years. In response to this, Google has made updates to take action toward mitigating webspam.
However, Google’s testing of their search algorithm without factoring links in at all, is testing the ultimate action they could potentially take to make spammy linkbuilding practices cease to exist. (By the way, if you are looking for a Google Penalty Recovery Service because you have spammy links pointing to your website, then check us out we guarantee to get your Google Penalty removed.)
As SEOs we cannot control what Google chooses to factor into its search algorithm, we can only optimize the factors they ultimately choose. So, whether or not Google chooses to update their algorithm not to include links as a ranking factor, for the SEO community a couple things should be noted about the value of links from an SEO standpoint.
Some Links Grow in Value as Google Filters the Impact of Other Links
Links currently are a big factor in Google’s search algorithm and are very important for SEO. In order to increase organic search engine visibility a website is going to need links to it. But as Google targets certain types of links and removes them as rankings factors, this makes the remaining links even more effective for SEO.
Rand from Moz made a good example when he agreed with Russ Jones from Virante that links were in fact growing in value.
“so let’s say I’ve got this webpage on Google, and as I filter out the value that are passed from some links through algorithms like Penguin or through filtration systems that remove either Web spam or low-quality links or links that we don’t find valuable in our relevancy algorithms, it actually is the case that these other links grow in importance.”
Many of the SEO industry’s leading authorities have made comment on the change in value of links as Google updates to its algorithm.
Out With the Bad Links and In With the Good Links
Basically, certain links have become less important for ranking and even targeted for purposes of penalizing websites, due to Google’s various algorithm updates. And as a result, the remaining links factoring into the search algorithm become more important.
Also, because certain links are targeted for penalties, more webmasters and bloggers are no-following links and linking out to other sites much less, trying to avoid Google penalties. So earning a natural link is harder than before.
The takeaway here is that it is becoming harder to earn high quality natural editorial links, which are more powerful than ever, so it is essential as an SEO that you can find opportunities to earn these links.
If you don’t have the time, interest, or expertise in building links then we wouldn’t recommend doing it yourself as you could end up doing more damage than good to your site’s SEO. We offer backlink services and outreach / guest blogging services to help clients with their linkbuilding efforts to gain high quality editorial links through media outreach.
What do you think about the value of links in Google’s algorithm or links being removed altogether ? Tell us in the comments below!