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Since the launch of Google in 1998, this search engine has been the leader in online searches. Many have questioned the complex algorithms used to generate search results, particularly in terms of how links are used to rank pages.


Links are no longer a top ranking factor

Google's algorithm is the basis of why links matter. He scours the Internet to determine relevance and authority websites and links. Relevance is determined website content and how well responds to the user's query. Authority is determined by the number of quality links pointing to a website. These two factors, relevance and authority, are critical for a website to rank high in Google search results. Links have long been a key determinant of both relevance and authority, making them one of the key factors for SEO success.

It is undeniable that for a long time Google's algorithm was designed to recognize and reward websites that had high quality inbound links or links from other websites that drive traffic to their site. This was done by measuring the quality and quantity of links. The more quality links a website had, the better it ranked on search engine results pages (SERPs).

But are things still like that?


Links not so important anymore?

The question about the importance of links was raised by one today discussion on the X platform, where the folks at Google argued that the importance of links today is far less than it used to be. What's more, according to these claims, links are no longer even among the top 3 most important factors when it comes to ranking.

On the website Search Engine Land has confirmed this claim in conversation with Gary Illyes of Google.

"Links are not a 'top 3' ranking signal and they haven't been for a while," Illyes said, adding that there really isn't a universal top 3 factor. So it's absolutely possible to rank without links, Illyes said, citing an example of a page with zero internal or external links that he knew ranked #1, and Google just found the page via Sitemap.

Content is still the number one ranking signal.

"Without content, it's literally impossible to rank." If you don't have words on the page, you won't rank. For each site there will be something different like the top 2 or 3 ranking factors," Illyes said.


This claim is not new

If we follow this topic a little back in time, we will see that a year or so ago, Duy Nguyen from Google's search quality team said:backlinks as a signal have a much less significant impact compared to when Google search first started many years ago ". And a similar claim was made by the famous John Mueller on Twitter at the time: "links are definitely not the most important SEO factor." He stated this shortly after saying to forget everything you've read in the past about link juice.

However, with all due respect to the voices that officially come from Google, if we want to be fair, we must state that we cannot completely agree with this statement. Links have played and we would say still play a very important role in website ranking. Time will tell if that will change in the future. Certainly, the future of search due to the unexpected development of artificial intelligence remains unknown to us.


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Made by Nebojsa Radovanovic - SEO Expert @Digitizer

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