As we’ve expanded the company, I found myself finally able to utilize our internal resources to build out & rank our personal projects. I’ve always had the mindset of “drinking our Koolaid”, so that as we’ve gone down this path, Recently i stumbled in to a rabbit hole that gave me an enormous burst of excitement and a rise in expectations for what we could do soon. But it came at the cost: paranoia.
When the dust settled on the improvements we made, I took an important step back and found that what we should were building was basically sitting on the fault type of a tectonic plate.
It may all come crashing down instantly, all as a consequence of one critical assumption that I’ve designed to date: that links continues to matter.
I quickly found that I needed to have a better gauge in the longevity of links past the tweets I happened to learn that day. I’ve never had much reason for concern through the years regarding this issue (proof of how come listed later), however if I was going to come up with a major bet over the next 12-24 months, I necessary to are aware of the parameters of the things may go wrong, and also this was one of many items at the top of the list.
I ended up being discussing things over with some trusted colleagues of mine, in addition to reaching out to several other experts which i trusted the opinion of with regards to the future of SEO. Thus I wanted to discuss my thinking, along with the overall conclusions I’ve drawn based away from the information available.
The key supply of “facts” that the industry points to as a whole are statements from Google. Yet, there has been numerous instances where what Google is telling us is, at the minimum, misleading.
Here are several recent examples to illustrate in what way they can be misleading:
1. With their “Not Provided” announcement post in October 2011, Google stated that “the change will affect just a minority of your own traffic.” Not actually two years later, Danny Sullivan was told by Google that they had begun focus on encrypting ALL searches. Others is history.
My thoughts: even if we obtain the reality from Google, it needs to be labeled with huge, red letters in the date the statement was created, because things can transform very, very quickly. In this case, it absolutely was probably their intention all along to gradually roll this over to all searches, in order to not anger people too greatly at one time.
2. Google’s John Mueller made this statement a couple 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: will it be tough to assume that 302 redirects pass at least .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) rather than a 301 (~90% of PR passes), the direct alternative in cases like this. So really, it doesn’t answer anything practical.
Take the two examples & know that things can transform quickly, and therefore try to decipher precisely what is actually, concretely being said.
So, bearing that in mind, here are a few recent statements on the topic of 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 up with anything they indicated from the RankBrain initial news article in Bloomberg whenever they stated RankBrain was #3. Everything that was left to speculate, up to now, was what #1 and #2 were, even though it wasn’t too difficult 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 receiving search traffic.
My thoughts: this isn’t very surprising, for two reasons. First, how the queries they’re ranking for are most likely extremely low competition (because: local international), and because Google has become significantly better throughout the years at taking a look at 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 link building firm have many, many years left in them”.
My thoughts: the maximum amount of of any endorsement as that is, a haunting reminder of methods quickly things change is Matt’s comments later from the video talking about authorship markup, a project which was eventually abandoned inside the following years.
4. Feb 19, 2014 – Google’s Matt Cutts stated which they tried dropping links altogether from the ranking algorithm, and found it to be “much, much worse”.
My thoughts: interestingly enough, Yandex tried this starting in March 2014 for specific niches, and brought it back each year later after finding that it is unsuccessful. Things change awfully quick, however if there’s any evidence for this list that will add reassurance, a combination of two different search engines like yahoo trying & failing this is probably best. Having said that, our main concern isn’t the entire riddance of links, but instead, its absolute strength as being a ranking factor. So, again, it’s still its not all that reassuring.