As we’ve expanded the company, I found myself finally able to utilize our internal resources to create out & rank our very own projects. I’ve always had the mindset of “drinking our own Koolaid”, and also as we’ve gone down this path, Recently i stumbled right into a rabbit hole that provided me with a massive burst of excitement and an increase in expectations for the purpose we might do in the future. But it really came at a cost: paranoia.
After the dust settled on the improvements we made, I took a major 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 all come crashing down right away, all due to one critical assumption that I’ve created to date: that links continue to matter.
I quickly realized that I needed to get a better gauge in the longevity of links beyond the tweets I happened to learn on that day. I’ve never had much cause for concern through the years in regards to this issue (proof why is listed later), however, if I would produce a major bet across the next 12-24 months, I required to be aware of parameters of the items may go wrong, and that was among the items towards the top of the list.
I finished up discussing things over by incorporating trusted colleagues of mine, along with contacting a number of other experts that we trusted the opinion of with regards to the way ahead for SEO. So I wanted to discuss my thinking, as well as the overall conclusions I’ve drawn based off the information available.
The key method to obtain “facts” that the industry points to by and large are statements from Google. Yet, we have seen numerous instances where what Google is telling us is, at the very least, misleading.
Here are a few recent examples to illustrate in what way these are misleading:
1. Inside their “Not Provided” announcement post in October 2011, Google stated that “the change will affect only a minority of your traffic.” Not really 2 yrs later, Danny Sullivan was told by Google they had begun focus on encrypting ALL searches. Others is history.
My thoughts: even though we receive the simple truth from Google, it needs to be labeled with huge, red letters of the date the statement is made, because things can transform very, very quickly. In this instance, it was probably their intention all along to gradually roll this out to all searches, in order to not anger people too greatly at one time.
2. Google’s John Mueller made this statement a few 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: could it be hard to feel that 302 redirects pass a minimum of .01% from the PageRank in the page? I don’t think so. So really, this statement isn’t saying much. It’s a non-answer, as it’s framed compared to a 404 (no PR passes) instead of a 301 (~90% of PR passes), the direct alternative in this instance. So really, it doesn’t answer anything practical.
Take the two examples & realize that things can alter quickly, and that try to decipher what is actually, concretely being said.
So, with that in mind, below are a few recent statements on the subject on this post:
1. March 24, 2016 – Google lists their top 3 ranking factors as: links, content and RankBrain (while they didn’t state the transaction from the first couple of; RankBrain is without a doubt 3rd, though).
My thoughts: this isn’t anything new. This list lines on top of what they indicated in the RankBrain initial news article in Bloomberg when they stated RankBrain was #3. All of that was left to speculate, until recently, was what #1 and #2 were, even though it wasn’t too hard to guess.
2. Feb 2, 2015 – Google confirms which you don’t necessarily need links to position. John Mueller cites an example of friend of his who launched a local neighborhood website in Zurich as dexhpky71 indexed, ranking, and getting search traffic.
My thoughts: this isn’t very surprising, for 2 reasons. First, that this queries they’re ranking for are most likely suprisingly low competition (because: local international), and since Google has brought much better through the years at considering other signals in locations where the link graph was lacking.
3. May 5, 2014 – Matt Cutts leads off a relevant video by using a disclaimer stating “I think outsource link building have many, several years left in them”.
My thoughts: just as much of any endorsement as which is, a haunting reminder of how quickly things change is Matt’s comments later in the video referring to authorship markup, a project which was eventually abandoned in the following years.
4. Feb 19, 2014 – Google’s Matt Cutts stated which they tried dropping links altogether using their ranking algorithm, and discovered that it is “much, much worse”.
My thoughts: interestingly enough, Yandex tried this starting in March 2014 for specific niches, and brought it back annually later after finding so that it is unsuccessful. Things change awfully quick, but when there’s any evidence for this list that will add reassurance, the mixture of two different search engines like google trying & failing this might be best. With that said, our main concern isn’t the entire riddance of links, but rather, its absolute strength as a ranking factor. So, yet again, it’s still not every that reassuring.