As we’ve expanded the agency, I was finally able to utilize our internal resources to build out & rank our personal projects. I’ve always had the mindset of “drinking our very own Koolaid”, so that as we’ve gone down this path, I recently stumbled in to a rabbit hole that provided me with an enormous burst of excitement and an increase in expectations for which we might do soon. But it really came in a cost: paranoia.
When the dust settled in the improvements we made, I took a major take a step back and saw that what we were building was more or less located on the fault collection of a tectonic plate.
It might all come crashing down right away, all as a consequence of one critical assumption that I’ve created to date: that links continue to matter.
I quickly saw that I needed to possess a better gauge in the longevity of links past the tweets I happened to read through that day. I’ve never had much reason for concern over time in regards to this issue (evidence of why is listed later), but if I would produce a major bet on the next 12-24 months, I found it necessary to know the parameters of the may go wrong, which was among the items on top of this list.
I ended up being discussing things over with a few trusted colleagues of mine, as well as contacting a few other experts that we trusted the opinion of with regards to the way ahead for SEO. Thus I wanted to mention my thinking, and also the overall conclusions I’ve drawn based away from the information available.
The key way to obtain “facts” that the industry points to in general are statements from Google. Yet, there has been numerous instances where what Google is telling us is, at the minimum, misleading.
Here are some recent examples to illustrate as to what way they may be misleading:
1. With their “Not Provided” announcement post in October 2011, Google stated that “the change will affect simply a minority of your traffic.” Not even 2 yrs later, Danny Sullivan was told by Google they had begun focus on encrypting ALL searches. The rest is history.
My thoughts: regardless if we receive the facts from Google, it must be labeled with huge, red letters of your date the statement was created, because things can alter very, rapidly. In this case, it was actually probably their intention all along to gradually roll this in the market to all searches, so that you can not anger people too greatly all at one 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 pointed out on Twitter, that’s very misleading based off most SEO’s prior experiences.
My thoughts: is it challenging to think that 302 redirects pass at the very least .01% of 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 in comparison to a 404 (no PR passes) as opposed to 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 & recognize that things may change quickly, and therefore you should try to decipher what is actually, concretely being said.
So, knowing that, here are several recent statements on the subject of the post:
1. March 24, 2016 – Google lists their top three ranking factors as: links, content and RankBrain (even though they didn’t state the order of your first two; RankBrain is certainly 3rd, though).
My thoughts: this isn’t anything new. This list lines on top of anything they indicated from the RankBrain initial news article in Bloomberg when they stated RankBrain was #3. All 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 illustration 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, how the queries they’re ranking for are probably very low competition (because: local international), and since Google has gotten much better through the years at considering other signals in areas where the link graph was lacking.
3. May 5, 2014 – Matt Cutts leads off a youtube video with a disclaimer stating “I think one way link building have several, several years left in them”.
My thoughts: all the of any endorsement as that is certainly, a haunting reminder of methods quickly things change is Matt’s comments later inside the video speaking about authorship markup, a task that had been eventually abandoned within the following years.
4. Feb 19, 2014 – Google’s Matt Cutts stated that they tried dropping links altogether off their ranking algorithm, and located it to be “much, much worse”.
My thoughts: interestingly enough, Yandex tried this starting in March 2014 for specific niches, and brought it back per year later after finding so that it is unsuccessful. Things change awfully quick, however, if there’s any evidence on this list that may add reassurance, a combination of two different search engines trying & failing this is probably best. Having said that, our main concern isn’t the whole riddance of links, but alternatively, its absolute strength as being a ranking factor. So, yet again, it’s still not all the that reassuring.