As we’ve expanded the company, I used to be finally able to use our internal resources to build out & rank our personal projects. I’ve always had the mindset of “drinking our very own Koolaid”, so when we’ve gone down this path, Not long ago i stumbled in to a rabbit hole that provided an enormous burst of excitement and a rise in expectations for which we might do soon. But it came with a cost: paranoia.
After the dust settled in the improvements we made, I took a serious step back and found that everything we were building was essentially located on the fault line of a tectonic plate.
It could possibly all come crashing down right away, all as a consequence of one critical assumption that I’ve intended to date: that links will continue to matter.
I quickly found that I needed to possess a better gauge around the longevity of links past the tweets I happened to read on that day. I’ve never had much cause for concern over time regarding this issue (proof of how come listed later), however if I was going to create a major bet on the next 12-24 months, I required to know the parameters of the could go wrong, and that was one of several items near the top of a list.
I ended up being discussing things over with just a few trusted colleagues of mine, and also reaching out to a couple of other experts i trusted the opinion of with regards to the way ahead for SEO. Therefore I wanted to discuss my thinking, and the overall conclusions I’ve drawn based away from the information available.
The main way to obtain “facts” that the industry points to overall are statements from Google. Yet, we have seen numerous instances where what Google is telling us is, at least, misleading.
Here are some recent examples to illustrate in doing what way they can be misleading:
1. With their “Not Provided” announcement post in October 2011, Google stated that “the change will affect only a minority of the traffic.” Not even 2 years later, Danny Sullivan was told by Google that they had begun work towards encrypting ALL searches. Others is history.
My thoughts: even when we receive the facts from Google, it must be labeled with huge, red letters in the date the statement was made, because things can change very, quickly. In this instance, it was actually probably their intention all along to gradually roll this in the market 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 of weeks ago about 302 redirects passing PageRank. It implies that 302 redirects are OK for SEO. As Mike King quickly revealed on Twitter, that’s very misleading based off most SEO’s prior experiences.
My thoughts: will it be challenging to think that 302 redirects pass a minimum of .01% from the PageRank of your page? I don’t think so. So really, this statement isn’t saying much. It’s a non-answer, as it’s framed in comparison to a 404 (no PR passes) rather than 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 & know that things can alter quickly, and that you should try to decipher precisely what is actually, concretely being said.
So, with that in mind, here are some recent statements on the topic on this post:
1. March 24, 2016 – Google lists their top three ranking factors as: links, content and RankBrain (while they didn’t state your order of the first two; RankBrain is certainly 3rd, though).
My thoughts: this isn’t anything new. This list lines up with anything they indicated from the RankBrain initial news article in Bloomberg when they stated RankBrain was #3. All of that was left to speculate, so far, was what #1 and #2 were, though it wasn’t too hard to guess.
2. Feb 2, 2015 – Google confirms that you simply don’t necessarily need links to position. John Mueller cites a good example of 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 probably suprisingly low competition (because: local international), and also since Google has got significantly better over time at checking out other signals in locations where the link graph was lacking.
3. May 5, 2014 – Matt Cutts leads off a youtube video by using a disclaimer stating “I think link building packages have many, several years left in them”.
My thoughts: as much of the endorsement as that may be, a haunting reminder of how quickly things change is Matt’s comments later in the video speaking about authorship markup, a project which was eventually abandoned in 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 so that it is “much, much worse”.
My thoughts: interestingly enough, Yandex tried this starting in March 2014 for specific niches, and brought it back each year later after finding it to be unsuccessful. Things change awfully quick, however if there’s any evidence with this list that will add reassurance, the mixture of two different search engines like google trying & failing this is probably best. With that in mind, our main concern isn’t the complete riddance of links, but rather, its absolute strength being a ranking factor. So, once again, it’s still not all that reassuring.