More and more these days, I hear people saying that links don’t matter any more. They say that Google uses other signals now and links just aren’t that important. So, is that true? Has Google completely thrown out the primary ranking metric they used since their inception?
Why People Say Links Aren’t Important:
There are several reasons why people are saying links don’t matter.
- For some, it’s because they offer services that don’t include link building and they are trying to drum up more business. I see this a lot from social marketing companies.
- Another reason is because Google has released a number of major updates over the past couple of years that changed a lot of how they rank websites. Among others, they released the Penguin update that specifically targeted spammy links and they released Hummingbird, which changed their core algorithm.
- Google has made more and more types of links against their guidelines. These include excessive reciprocal linking, article syndication, buying links, spammy blog comments, spammy forum posts, private blog networks, and soon to be added to the list I’m sure, guest blogging links.
- Google has released Google+ (their social network) and Google Authorship.
- Lastly, social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ seem like decent ways to determine rankings.
There are some good sounding reasons in that list; however, good sounding reasons don’t make reality. Hey, I think there are good sounding reasons to make cheesecake my staple food, but my doctor still says it’s not a good idea.
It’s Time for a Reality Check
Social Media Isn’t a Reliable Signal for Google:
In the video below, Google’s Matt Cutts explains why signals from social media, like Facebook and Twitter, just aren’t reliable for them. Thus, they don’t use them. Google+ might seem like a good signal, since it’s Google’s own baby, but frankly, people don’t legitimately use it enough to make it good.
Links Are Still Good Signals:
For all the spam and difficulty with links, they are still a good signal for quality as Matt Cutts explains in this video:
Are Links All That Matters?
So, are links the only signal? Are they all that matter? No. Google has over 200 signals that goes into rankings. You still need to optimize pages. Social media is still good to do. It may not be a direct signal, but some social pages can be crawled and social media can be very effective at distributing your content to people. I could go on and on (those 200 signals). So, there are a lot of good things you can be doing aside from getting links, but don’t be fooled; links are still a strong factor in rankings and they are going to be for a long time, if not forever.
It’s No Longer a Link Free-For-All:
What has changed is that not all links are good. Spammy links, purchased links, and a variety of other links are now against Google’s guidelines. So, you can’t just go out and pick up links without consideration for how and where you are getting those links. You need to earn the links naturally, by doing a great job with your organization, producing great content, and becoming a thought-leader in your niche.
Go Get Links!
So, sure, do social marketing. It can be a great and bring you traffic, but don’t expect the 5,000 likes on Facebook to translate into a #1 position in Google. No, for that you need to be getting good, old-fashioned, links. Simply put, if you want high rankings in Google, you need to optimize your website and get links.
Image from All in One Training
What Do You Think?
- Do you think links are still necessary?
- How do you go about getting links?