For years, there has been speculation about the declining importance of backlinks. Is this something we should be concerned about? There are many changes in the ranking factors and the algorithm. Nevertheless, so far we can say that link building in combination with other SEO measures is still very effective. If the on-page SEO of a website is in order, impressive results can be achieved with link building. But what about the future of link building? Of course, we can only make assumptions about that now. However, the changes at Google might help us to sketch the future of linkbuilding a little. It can’t hurt to give it a try, can it?
A search engine like Google is actually always looking for signals in the form of data and information. Based on these signals, it can recognise whether a website is relevant to a search query. We can say that Google updates its algorithm almost daily, often with small changes. Google is still trying to optimise the ranking factors to filter out the most relevant search results. The weighting of the ranking factors is constantly adjusted to see what works and what does not. However, this does not immediately mean that a ranking factor disappears altogether. The ranking is usually adjusted so that it plays a different role. Google has been trying to find the magic formula for almost 26 years, but it hasn’t found it yet. However, many impressive steps have been taken. We will go into these in this article.
To be able to predict the future to some extent, it is also important to look at what has happened in the past. In the early days of Google, links were considered the solution to get a good ranking. A website with many links was considered relevant and popular, regardless of the quality of the website or the quality of the links. In practice, however, it looked quite different, mainly because of the increase in spam backlinks. At that time, Google could say nothing about the reliability of a link. Was a link paid for? Is a link relevant? Is a link of high quality? Even now, the answers to these questions are incomplete. That says enough about the difficulties Google faces, because it is extremely complex to index billions of websites correctly.
Over the years, many advances have been made. Above all, the algorithm update called Google Penguin caused quite a stir in 2012. This update was mainly aimed at eliminating low-quality content and spam. The update made a good and diverse link profile much more important. Anchor texts that contain spam, websites that have many backlinks from low-quality websites and websites that have a large amount of unnatural follow links have been detected and monitored since then. If you are associated with link schemes or spam, you can expect to be penalised by Google these days. The quality standard of content and backlinks has thus been raised significantly by the update. Google’s penalties against certain forms of link building have led many to view link building with scepticism even today.
The present and the future
If you can’t think of the title of a film, all you have to do these days is type a summary sentence about the film into Google to find out the title. This means that Google is getting better at understanding how we think and how we express things. Often we Google a search term that is actually not quite relevant to the answer we are actually looking for. To understand and improve this process, many resources have been invested in understanding language, customs and cultures in recent years. Google has developed an indexing system that can recognise patterns between search terms and concepts. We also call this latent semantic indexing. Google is trying to find a way to make itself less dependent on ranking factors as we know them in order to display relevant search results.
Several search engines have shown in recent years that they are very advanced in this process. For example, search engines can now understand the context and tone in which a query is meant. Also, search engines can now understand when a brand or company is referred to without a link. According to some experts, the principle of link-free referencing has also already been incorporated into the algorithm. This new approach seems to be the solution to all of Google’s problems. A system where the authority of a website is determined based on the real opinions of external parties and the number of linkless references to a page. An online world where market authority is determined by overall online presence. A strong combination of digital personal relations and SEO. This could be a first step towards a linkless digital world, couldn’t it?
Why do links remain important?
We believe that backlinks are at the heart of the algorithm as a ranking factor. Links play a role in almost every aspect of the digital world. Everything depends on them, content, navigation, user experience and links between websites. There is no doubt about it. Brand mentions are becoming better understood and will play a bigger role in determining the credibility of a website in the future. But for now, there is no reason to believe that backlinks will lose their power as a result.
Any signal that says something about the credibility of a website has as much or even more potential for manipulation than backlinks. Currently, there is no factor as stable and comprehensive as the backlinks a website has. In addition, a lot of effort is made by Google today to evaluate the quality of the backlink profile. This would not be the case if links had no value for a search engine within a short period of time. This is not to say that the role of digital PR will not become increasingly important. We just want to emphasise that links are part of the foundation of the internet and there is currently no factor that has proven to be as effective.
In short, focusing only on link building and leaving the rest of SEO aside does not work and will not work in the future. If you work on the big picture and keep a website up to date, then strong, relevant backlinks can only have a positive impact on your rankings.
This is Equote.eu’s take on the future of link building, but we’re also very curious to hear what you think. Do we see it all wrong or do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments!
Link building will disappear in the future. The rise of digital PR is said to threaten link building as we know it today.
This is a perspective we hear more and more often these days. But we disagree! In this opinion piece, we take a closer look at Equote.de’s opinion on the future of link building.
We are also very curious about what you think about the future of link building. Do you agree with us? Or do you think completely differently? Let us know in the comments!