Links may be less important to the Google Search ranking algorithm in the future

As Google better understands how the content fits in within the context of the whole web, links might not be as necessary.

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Google’s John Mueller said that in the future he can see a Google Search ranking algorithm where links are not as important in the overall algorithm as they are today. He also hinted that links are not weighted as much as they were in the history of the Google ranking algorithm.

What was said. John Mueller said at the 13:52 mark in the recording when asked about links:

“Well, it’s something where I imagine, over time, the weight on the links. At some point, will drop off a little bit as we can’t figure out a little bit better how the content fits in within the context of the whole web. And to some extent, links will always be something that we care about because we have to find pages somehow. It’s like how do you find a page on the web without some reference to it?”

“But my guess is over time, it won’t be such a big factor as sometimes it is today. I think already, that’s something that’s been changing quite a bit.”

Links less important. Not only did John say that in the future links might be weighted less in the overall Google Search ranking algorithm, but he said that this has been already changing in the algorithm “quite a bit.” So even today, links are not weighted as much as they once were in the overall ranking algorithm.

Let me listen. Here is an embed of the recording from YouTube, you might want to rewind to the 13:06 minute mark, to hear how the question was phrased:

Not new? Yes, Matt Cutts, the former Google spam lead, told us several years ago a similar message in this video he posted:

Although studies have shown that links are still incredibly important for Google rankings. And a few years ago, Google said links are in the top three ranking factors, but links are not number one Google later said.

Why we care. In short, stop obsessing about links, and focus on your content. The trend has been more about having better content and truth be told, generally better content generates links without having to request links or do any real link-building efforts.

Links are not dead, links will never be dead, as a ranking factor. But as Google gets better and better at understanding content, Google can rely less on links.

About the author

Barry Schwartz
Barry Schwartz is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.

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