Is Google moving towards ignoring backlinks?

By Rune Jensen Link Building, Real talk, Reputation Management, Search Engine Optimization 2 Comments

Ever since Search Engine Optimization came along, backlinks have been a highly important factor in Google Search algorithms. In this video we’ll go through the different aspects of it. We’ll see what Google has to say about it and we’ll try to find out whether backlink actually has a role in the future or if it will be faded out over time. In order to come up with a suitable answer, it is important to also know why it is the backlinks have such an important role in Search Engine Optimization as it is today.

A backlink is a hyperlink linking from 1 page to another on different domains. In practice, these links do no more than simply redirecting the visitor to the site that the backlink is referring to. For a Search Engine tough this gives them a huge indication that the content, that the hyperlink or backlink is on, is relevant to the site that it’s been linked to. Google and other search engines will therefore have an idea that these websites or articles or blog posts are relevant to each other. This all allows Google and other search engines to be be to determine the reputation of a page, article or other content.

This reputation factor therefore gives Google a lot of insight into which content and which websites are being linked to a lot. Which means that when people and other websites link to the contents, it will naturally be content that the article owners and writers consider relevant and to be content that provides value to their readers. Now, the reason backlinks have been so important is because it’s one of the only ways that search engines are able to determine reputation and popularity of websites and content. Will this change in the future? I think it might but first let’s also analyze what’s been going on in the past so that we can try to find out what might happen in the future.

Will Google ignore backlinks?!

In the early days of Google when backlinks were new, everything was good and Google just seemed to work with the quantity of the backlinks. As time went by, people obviously and naturally found out about this and started to manipulate and abuse this method of backlinking. Which means that they acquired links from all sorts of sites that weren’t even relevant to their own content. They made new websites that didn’t have any age behind them, that weren’t very old. Google have had to fight all these kind of methods that abused their factors. They implemented a lot of precautions, domain age being one of them and backlink quality being another. Over the years they’ve started to look more at the relevancy and the neighborhood from which the hyperlink and backlink is coming.

If you have a soccer book and get a back link from a news article about soccer, well this is all good. If you get a backlink from a news site or an article about poker, this is not. Because Google sees there is no relevancy to the content and the backlink will be devalued. In some cases if the website is bad or it comes from a non-authority website and your site does not have a lot of authority behind it either, it could even punish your website. Abusive linking and link building with irrelevant backlinks and low quality backlinks, has been one of Googles biggest hurdles and it’s one of the most abused factors in all of search engine history. Therefore Google and other search engines have plenty of motive to try to go in a different direction so that this cannot be abused any longer.

That said though, Google have become very smart and they are able to prevent a lot of the abuse and in today’s world it’s actually hard to find any loop holes, so that they don’t close immediately. Since Google had become so good at preventive abusive backlinking, why do I still think that they want to change this? Well actually Matt Cutts, the former Head of Google’s Web Spam Department, said back in 2014, that over time backlinks will become less important. As this is an official spokesperson by Google, I think we can safely conclude that this will then be the official direction that Google wanted to take back in 2014. That means that Google does want to devalue backlinks over time. That doesn’t mean however, that they want to annihilate the factor altogether.

It does give us some indication that Google wants to find other measures and other means to determine reputation and authority of a website. Because that is what backlinks does and without backlinks or with a devalued backlink factor, they will have to come up with other solutions to this. In fact, Google has even said that they continuously run experiments in-house where backlinks have been completely removed as a factor. As it turns out, the research results are not as qualitative as when backlinks are included but it does give us an indication that Google is working on removing backlinks or devaluing. Since then we haven’t seen or heard any contradicting details from Google themselves.

Ultimately Google wants to provide searchers with the results that they want. If you ask a question on Google, they want to provide the correct answer. If you search for a specific detail or information or article, they want to provide exactly what you’re looking for. That’s the ultimate goal of a search engine. By making Google smarter, it is my opinion that they will be able to some day be able to do this without the reputation factor. Without knowing how many links link to the side. I think this because Google has several times said that they are always and constantly working on the AI of the search engine. I explained this in another video called ‘RankBrain’.

RankBrain is the brain behind Google. The one that takes all the information from the search query to the results and figures out the contextual meaning and will even be able to learn conversational and contextual language. If Google succeeds at this, that will give them a tool and a way to determine whether or not the website actually has the answer that the visitor is looking for or not. Based on the search query without having to know whether the backlinks … How many they are, whether they are good quality or not because their AI will be able to just look at the website and determine the quality of it no matter what. They cannot of course determine whether or not the facts and the information on the page is correct without looking at other pages in a similar way.

It is a huge and complicated task but in the future eventually, I believe that Google will be able to do this because they have several times stated that they are working towards such a solution. Which could mean the devaluation of that and therefore make it even harder to abuse search engine optimization and manipulate with the results of Google. As always, thank you all for watching. It’s been a pleasure. Please let me know what you think about this in the comment below and whether or not you think backlinks will indeed become irrelevant in the future or not. Don’t forget to like and subscribe if you enjoyed the video and want to see more in the future.

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Comments 2

  1. Thank you very much for these very interesting and valuable videos.

    In this video at around 2min 30s you show a pie chart with, if I understand correctly, the weights of the factors that Google are using to arrive at their search ranks. i.e. Domain age, Quality of backlinks, Anchor text of external links to the page, On page keyword usage, Registration + Hosting, CTR & traffic, Social Graph Metrics…

    Just a suggestion, but it would be really useful and interesting if you could you a piece that just explained the precise meaning of these factors, how they are influenced and their importance… Its the first time I’ve see such a list with weights. To date I’ve worked hard on “On page keyword usage”; but now wonder what “Anchor text of external links to the page” actually means… Also quality in Backlinks would be good to know as I’ve avoided using services supposedly offering links but have tried to hoping forums, most of which see to allow linking but generate “NF links”.

    Again, just a suggestion; but tanks for your great insights in Google and future directions.


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