Google is an ever-evolving organism with guidelines that steadily change in an effort to deter spammers and improve user experience. One of the most popular and contentious discussions surrounding search engine optimization and Google’s guidelines specifically, is the importance of “link building”.
In the old days, black hat SEO practitioners could improve their search engine rankings with cheap, spam-like tactics. Some people hid links in the code of their webpages, while others created thousands of dummy sites to serve as link farms.
As Google developed and improved, many of these tactics became outdated. Personalized searches, harsher penalties for spam and aggressive tactics, as well as a more refined search engine in general, have all combined to limit some of the effectiveness of link building.
More and more, Google is pushing for web masters and SEO practitioners to focus on content creating rather than link building, but does that mean links are obsolete or unimportant?
Links Are Still Important…At The Moment!
As this article from an SEO blog shows, link building is still essential to create and maintain a prominent site. The study conducted by Moz, an SEO consulting group, found that 99.2% of sites in the top results of Google searches had at least one external link.
The article explained that certain individual pages may rank well without any links, so long as the site to which they belong contain many links. A good example is a new page on the New York Times. While the page itself may at first have no links, it will still be ranked because of the abundance of other links on the site.
Proponents of the “links are important” philosophy point out that other trends in marketing, particularly content marketing, is really just link building in disguise. Similar arguments point out that links in general are just as important as they’ve always been, it’s simply the case that fewer actual links are deemed important by Google.
Links May Not Be Important for Much Longer
While links do still seem to be important for marketing and ranking purposes, they are not the only factors that Google takes into account with its algorithms.
Strong, entertaining and original content is more and more becoming the backbone of online marketing. Additionally, executives at Google have pointed to examples of websites that do well and receive steady traffic without relying on links.
The goal of Google and the hope of internet users in general is that all online sites and the content therein will be written for other human beings. This means that in an ideal world, we wouldn’t need SEO and link-building because only those sites with compelling and original content would thrive.
This is the direction that Google’s been headed in for years now and it stands to reason that it will continue to add penalties and refine its search to prioritize content meant for people over machines.
Links may become obsolete in the future, but we’ll simply have to wait and see. The good thing is that no matter the importance of links, the general trend of site rankings is moving in favor of the user.
greek and european 😉