As we’ve expanded the company, I had been finally able to use our internal resources to develop out & rank our own projects. I’ve always had the mindset of “drinking our personal Koolaid”, and as we’ve gone down this path, I recently stumbled right into a rabbit hole that gave me a tremendous burst of excitement and a rise in expectations for which we could do anytime soon. Nevertheless it came with a cost: paranoia.
When the dust settled on the improvements we made, I took a serious take a step back and discovered that what we were building was pretty much located on the fault type of a tectonic plate.
It could possibly all come crashing down instantly, all as a result of one critical assumption that I’ve made to date: that links continues to matter.
I quickly discovered that I needed to possess a better gauge about the longevity of links beyond the tweets I happened to learn that day. I’ve never had much cause for concern over the years in regards to this issue (proof of how come listed later), but when I would create a major bet on the next 12-24 months, I required to are aware of the parameters of the may go wrong, and that was one of several items towards the top of the list.
I ended up discussing things over with just a few trusted colleagues of mine, along with contacting a few other experts that I trusted the opinion of in regards to the way forward for SEO. And So I wanted to discuss my thinking, as well as the overall conclusions I’ve drawn based from the information available.
The key method to obtain “facts” how the industry points to overall are statements from Google. Yet, there were numerous instances where what Google is telling us is, at the minimum, misleading.
Here are some recent examples to illustrate in what way they are misleading:
1. Inside their “Not Provided” announcement post in October 2011, Google stated that “the change will affect merely a minority of your own traffic.” Not 2 yrs later, Danny Sullivan was told by Google that they had begun work with encrypting ALL searches. The others is history.
My thoughts: even when we receive the facts from Google, it must be labeled with huge, red letters from the date the statement was developed, because things can alter very, quickly. In cases like this, it absolutely was probably their intention all along to gradually roll this out to all searches, to be able to not anger people too greatly at the same time.
2. Google’s John Mueller made this statement a couple weeks ago about 302 redirects passing PageRank. It implies that 302 redirects are OK for SEO. As Mike King quickly pointed out on Twitter, that’s very misleading based off most SEO’s prior experiences.
My thoughts: would it be challenging to feel that 302 redirects pass a minimum of .01% of your PageRank of the page? I don’t think so. So really, this statement isn’t saying much. It’s a non-answer, as it’s framed when compared with a 404 (no PR passes) instead of a 301 (~90% of PR passes), the direct alternative in cases like this. So really, it doesn’t answer anything practical.
Take those two examples & recognize that things can transform quickly, and therefore try to decipher what is actually, concretely being said.
So, bearing that in mind, here are some recent statements on the subject on this post:
1. March 24, 2016 – Google lists their top three ranking factors as: links, content and RankBrain (although they didn’t state an order of your initial two; RankBrain is definitely 3rd, though).
My thoughts: this isn’t anything new. This list lines with whatever they indicated inside the RankBrain initial news article in Bloomberg once they stated RankBrain was #3. All that was left to speculate, up to now, was what #1 and #2 were, although it wasn’t too hard to guess.
2. Feb 2, 2015 – Google confirms that you don’t necessarily need links to position. John Mueller cites an illustration of this friend of his who launched a neighborhood neighborhood website in Zurich as dexhpky71 indexed, ranking, and getting search traffic.
My thoughts: this isn’t very surprising, for a couple of reasons. First, that the queries they’re ranking for are most likely really low competition (because: local international), and since Google has become much better over time at considering other signals in places that the web link graph was lacking.
3. May 5, 2014 – Matt Cutts leads off a relevant video having a disclaimer stating “I think one way link building have numerous, several years left in them”.
My thoughts: as much of any endorsement as which is, a haunting reminder of how quickly things change is Matt’s comments later inside the video discussing authorship markup, a task which had been eventually abandoned inside the following years.
4. Feb 19, 2014 – Google’s Matt Cutts stated that they can tried dropping links altogether using their ranking algorithm, and located that it is “much, much worse”.
My thoughts: interestingly enough, Yandex tried this starting in March 2014 for specific niches, and brought it back a year later after finding it to be unsuccessful. Things change awfully quick, but when there’s any evidence on this list that can add reassurance, the combination of two different search engine listings trying & failing this is probably best. Having said that, our main concern isn’t the total riddance of links, but rather, its absolute strength as being a ranking factor. So, once more, it’s still not every that reassuring.