Are Backlinks A Thing Of The Past?

Are backlinks a thing of the past?  I’ve been a web developer for 11 years and helped dozens of small companies rank for some pretty impressive keywords. The old tricks are no longer working and Google’s getting extremely intelligent with their algorithm.

Please understand that this article’s not trying to claim that backlinks aren’t important. They’re a huge contributing factor to how you rank in the search engines. I’m only trying to suggest that you no longer need to focus on them. If the content’s good, the links will follow.

So, are backlinks a thing of the past?  Let’s do some homework.

are backlinks a thing of the past?

Here’s a quote from Matt Cutts the former head of the webspam team at Google

“it’s helpful to find out what the reputation of the site or page is but, for the most part, people care about the quality of the content on that particular page, the one they landed on, so I think over time backlinks will become a little less important”

It’s the goal of Google to provide the best content to its users. I promise that it’s not Google’s goal to reward people who spend time forcing rankings by using spammy backlink tactics.

Now let’s dig a bit deeper into that conversation

Matt goes on saying:

“So I think as we get better at understanding who wrote something and what the real meaning of that content is, inevitably over time, there will be a little less emphasis on links, but I would expect that for the next few years, we’ll continue to use links in order to access the basic reputation of pages and of the sites”

You should notice that he says “for the next few years, we will continue to use links” This is extremely terrifying to someone who spends day and night trying to trick Google and force their content to the first spot. If Google’s goal is focusing on quality content, shouldn’t that be yours?

Here’s The Video

If You Write It, They Will Come

Backlinks will always be needed to a certain extent, It’s just that by focusing on them and deliberately trying to rank, you’re going to eventually find problems. It seems that Googe’s endgame goal is to remove any chance of people intentionally showing up in the search engines unless of course, your intent is quality content that’s relative to the user’s search.

This seems like bad news but it’s really not if you think about it. If you understand that by simply writing great quality content and answering peoples questions, you’ll get people linking to you naturally and won’t ever have to worry about getting the boot.

Let’s Analyze Google’s Ranking Factors

Are Backlinks A Thing Of The Past?

I’ll Take One Slice Of Domain Authority Please!

In the graph above you’ll notice that link popularity and anchor text links are 42.59% of the pie. With that said, link building is clearly a huge determining factor in rankings, but what about the other 57.41% of the pie? Most people spend so much time on backlinks that they are missing almost 60% of the solution.

Trust and Authority – 23.87%

It’s pretty easy to understand why trust and authority are so important. I foresee this being the entire future of Google’s algorithm. I myself as a Google user can’t stand affiliate marketing junk being caught up in the SERPs. Because these websites can build backlinks using time-tested methods, they are able to force garbage information to the public. Their motivation is selling products, not providing people with top content that truly solves a problem.

Let The People Vote!

My guess is that Google will make it almost impossible to have trust in the future for marketing or misleading content.  Who knows, maybe in the future people will directly vote on a page specifically to a particular IP address. Maybe it will be impossible to manipulate backlinks and as a result, good content will finally rise to the top.

“Web spam is when somebody tries to cheat or take shortcuts so that their Web site shows up higher [in search results rankings] than it deserves to show up,” – Matt Cutts

The future of backlinks will be social voting.  You may not like hearing this, but for those of us who focus more on providing good content than we do on monetization and traffic, we’ll be sleeping just fine.