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Few would argue that the SEO landscape has changed at least a bit over the past five years. We're using new tactics and platforms for visibility, for starters. In our "Discussion of the Week," we want to know if the changing landscape has impacted the value of links and linkbuilding? Are links less important for ranking today than they were five years ago? Or are they more important, perhaps? The floor is open for your comments!
Comments20 Comments  

Comments

Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 2

No way. If anything, they're even more important.



Avatar Moderator
from Realicity 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I second Jill's statement.  More important because good ones are harder to come by.  Social signals and citations have been added to the secret sauce, but links still matter. a lot.



Avatar Moderator
from hugoguzman 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Definitely not less important. Citations are still the cornerstone of Google's algorithm.



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from ArnieK 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Going to sound like the same old thing, but quality link are probably more important today than ever before. The bar has been raised yet again.



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from dunivan 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Of course you would think that, you both operate a business that offers link building services. I think links are always valuable, but their play in ranking is becoming more marginalized as social data continues to come into google.

I dont think links are a great indicator of quality content, and am skeptical of the value as "gaming" a link graph is possible. I think on-page SEO is more important than off page factors, and social will soon be more important than an off-page link building scheme.



Avatar Moderator
from JulieJoyce 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think they're more important, as 5 years ago I could cloak the bejesus out of a site and stuff the content with keywords and rank it in no time. I can't do that now...not that I would want to of course. Ahem. We can still rank a site with links alone but it's still harder than it was even 6 months ago.



Avatar Moderator
from nickfb76 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 0

The people that say links don't matter are the ones that struggle to acquire the right ones.  I haven't been in SEO for 5 years but in my experience they get more important as algorithms continue to evolve.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@dunivan, I don't offer link building services at all. Never have, never will. I can't stand link building as to me, it all basically seems spammy.

That said, because I DON'T offfer it, is how I know it's extremely important. For sites that already have their on-page SEO in good order, there's nothing more I can really do for them, as the only way to move the needle further is via links. More importantly, anchor text (from external sites).




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from hariskr 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 1

The definition of a link and the way links are evaluated have changed. Links are more like 'citations' now. For example, social shares and mentions are counted as links. Also, the context of the link is beginning to play a greater role. For example, citations from Yelp have been around for a while, but recently the engines have put more emphasis on the sentiment of the review (as you pointed out yourself Matt).



Avatar Moderator
from incrediblehelp 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 0

With social becoming more part of the Google algo, relationships and discussions are going to be more relevant in the future.



Avatar Moderator
from toddmintz 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Links are as important as ever.  However, the contextual and social factors involved in weighing link value is evolving and will continue to evolve.



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from cpetty 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@hariskr- I completely agree.

It's hard to evaluate what 'once was' considered important compared to now- as algorithms have evolved greatly and continue to do so. I think the definition of 'links' has been altered to put a significant amount of weight on social media and shares.

So, if we are talking about links including social media and shares- yes I think they are more important now than 5 years ago.



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from seotheory 1140 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I would say that a great many links are now less important than they were a few months ago.  SEOs will probably never shake their addiction to links but the algorithms may some day evolve beyond a simple dependence upon links.

In fact, Google may have given us a first glimpse of one direction of evolution in its policy on combining "rel='me'" with "rel='nofollow'".  Links may one day both count and not count, help and not help.

That should give people something to talk about.



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from SEIsrael 1139 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Links are of course still very important, but their uses have changed.  Links today provide relevancy more than just power.  A few relevant links within a similar genre as the site can do a lot and yet we see social buzz also performing that same function.  Google seems to like sites that relevant in the real time versus sites that value only in link quantity and strength.



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from dbldee 1139 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Links are still very important and will always remain that way. There will be no web if there were no links.

What is changing is how links are being used and valued. Google seems to be putting more emphasis on the sharing and liking of links.

Your links may now rank higher with more shares or likes

Edu and gov links mean nothing

@seotheory " Links may one day both count and not count, help and not help."

that needs some clarification, like saying it is while it isn't???'





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from brolan 1139 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Links are absolutely necessary ... but sooner or later, may begin to change its function as the advancement of the internet, but still affect any progress itself ....:)






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from drmalm2 1139 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Ultimatly, I think the total value of what links offer a site has declined since five years ago. I believe with new factors such as Panda, social integration, local affiliation, author authority have entered the scene and taken up part the ranking factors that didn't exist 5 years ago.

Think of it this way, 5 years ago, you would of heard backlinks are about 70-80% of the ranking factor, and on-page the other 20-30%. Today it would be something to the effect of 50% of the algorithm is backlinks, social might be 10%, overall site value (Panda) might be 10%, on-page op. might be 10%, and so forth.

Links might still be the biggest part of the ranking algorithm but its not at all as much as used to be.

-Malmborg



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from seotheory 1139 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@dbldee If a link on a page that is part of your Authorship reciprocal network results in the page being shown in search results with an image, but the link uses the "nofollow" attribute, it may both help you and NOT help you.

That's just one example.  The potential for Google or Bing to create other dichotomous link valuations is virtually unlimited.



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from voasi 1139 Days ago #
Votes: 0

What set Google apart all those years ago was it had a superior quality signal indicator (inbound links) then others.

Google is always looking for more quality signals.  As others have said, links are the foundation of Google's algorithm of what set them apart so many years ago.

Do I think social media can be gamed?  Just as much as acquiring links can.  Is it a form of signal of quality? Possible.  I think social media is incredibly hot right now and everyone is still watching to see how users respond to brands on social networking sites.

Is "liking" a brand via Facebook a quality signal?  Maybe.  Is mentioning a brand with a positive tone in your twitter updates a better quality signal.  Possibly.

To answer the question specific - No, I don't think they have anymore less value as a quality signal to Google 5 years ago.  I do think, however, that social "mentions" a fastly becoming a potential "runner-up" as a superior quality signal - as long as you can measure the tone of the conversation.  I definitely think just "liking" a brand is not an accurate QUALITY signal - but more of a popularity signal.



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from seotheory 1134 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"What set Google apart all those years ago was it had a superior quality signal indicator (inbound links) then others."

That has been the myth, but since links were being gamed before Google was popular, it's hard to show that this was ever the case.

Google always determined rankings on the basis of IR scoring (relevance) and the links only contributed some anchor text and PageRank.

By that same token, social media was being gamed before Google and Bing announced they would integrate those signals into their algorithms.

Should we wonder if social media is now less important than it was a year ago?


I think ultimately these two questions are both too limited.  A SIGNAL or RANKING FACTOR may vary in importance over time for any number of reasons.  The SEO community will love only a small number of signals at any given time.  Those will be the signals easiest to work with.

So today maybe it seems like links or social media are less important than yesterday.  But tomorrow it may seem like they are more important than today.

At the end of the day, the values that search engines and SEOs place in links, social media, on-page factors, and other signals have probably never been equal and most likely never will be.  Both groups have their own priorities and perspectives.



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