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When it comes to SEO there are content, titles page, technical SEO, and of course backlinks. Links and anchor text signals made Google a better search engine than the competition when they were first introduced. Do links have much less impact on rankings today than before?


The impact of backlinks on ranking

Relevant and reliable backlinks from high-quality websites tell Google, "Hey, this content is so useful to people that other websites want to refer their visitors to it." They act as a vote of confidence. The more high-quality backlinks your website has, the more likely it will earn a higher ranking. Is it still like that?!?

After the importance of backlinks for ranking on Google was established, various methods appeared very quickly that tried and often succeeded in cheating the system. Various link building techniques have emerged such as reciprocal linking, spam comments, forum spam links and so on.


Fight against unwanted backlinks

Google has been largely losing the war against spam backlinks. The turning point was in 2012 with the introduction of the Penguin algorithm, as well as other updates to Google's infrastructure (Hummingbird) that allowed Google to try to bring some sort of order to this area.

Link valuation factors include the quality of the website the backlink is placed on and the relevance of the topics between the two sites. Simply put, the backlink must look like it thematically belongs where it is. Therefore, website owners did not want a link on any old website or in the middle of an irrelevant or irrelevant article.


Much less impact on rankings

Dui Nguyen from Google's search quality team said in Google office hours that "backlinks as a signal have much less significant impact compared to when Google search first started many years ago."

It's interesting to hear a Google official say that links have less impact today, because it was assumed that the reduction in their importance would happen in the future. However, perhaps the key thing to keep in mind is that the signal strength of backlinks is compared to when Google first started using them. Of course, compared to that time, their importance is less, but it is still extremely present.

The question asked that led to this answer was "why does google continue to use backlinks as a ranking factor if link building campaigns are not allowed? Why can't Google find other ranking factors that can't be easily manipulated like backlinks?”

Nguyen's response was:

"There are a few things to unpack here." First, backlinks as a signal have much less impact than when Google search first started many years ago.

We have powerful ranking signals, hundreds of them, to make sure we are able to rank the most relevant and useful results for all queries.”


A sequel followed:

"Second, backlink building campaigns are essentially unsolicited according to our policy.

We have many algorithms capable of detecting unnatural links to a large extent and invalidating them.

This means that spammers or SEO experts who spend money on links really have no way of knowing if the money they spent on link building is really worth it or not, since it's really likely that they're just spending money building all these spammy links and they'll be invalidated our systems as soon as we spot them.”

Links have a function that goes beyond just a matter of ranking. Google discovers websites through them. Google's own documentation not only does it list links as how Google discovers websites, but it also encourages you to promote your sites.

The number of links pointing to the site still indicates how high quality and important the site is. Link patterns that are made of natural (organic) links help Google understand what the site is about.


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Made by Nebojsa Radovanovic - SEO Expert @Digitizer

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