Google predicts backlink ranking factor strength will drop

During a live session at Brighton SEO, Google Search Advocate John Mueller makes a prediction about the future of backlinks.

Mueller, joined by fellow Googler Lizzi Sassman and guest Myriam Jessier, answers several questions during a live taping of the Search Off The Record podcast.

Since this is a podcast, the questions are tackled as a panel discussion, as the hosts answer pre-selected questions rather than interacting with the live audience.

Together, the hosts answer a question about how Google penalizes backlinks, which asks:

“As SEOs, we are interested in backlinks. However, actively working on backlinks often becomes a gray area in terms of link schemes. What are Google’s main criteria for penalizing backlinks?

After some banter between the hosts, Mueller takes a direction with her answer that deviates slightly from the original question.

Google representatives are often cautious when answering questions regarding ranking and penalty criteria.

As a general rule, Google discourages any form of unnatural link building. Giving too many details about penalties could encourage “grey hat” behavior or a careful distinction between what is acceptable and what is not.

Instead of talking about penalties, Mueller discusses the backlink ranking signal in general and why it might become less critical for SEO professionals in the future.

Google’s John Mueller on the backlink ranking signal

As Google becomes more adept at understanding how content fits in with the rest of the web, Mueller suggests that Google’s algorithm won’t have to rely as much on inbound links.

Muller says:

“Well, that’s something where I imagine over time the weight of the links will go down a bit as we can understand a little bit better how the content fits into the context of the whole web.”

Maybe it’s Mueller’s way of saying penalties aren’t worth worrying about because backlinks won’t be as valuable to acquire in the future.

However, to suggest that backlinks are only useful for understanding content ignores all the other information they convey.

A backlink profile can tell you a lot more about a website, such as how much others trust it, who it trusts, and how authoritative the site is in its particular niche.

Is Google able to determine all of this just from the content of the page?

Mueller doesn’t talk about the authority aspect of backlinks, although he does say they will continue to be useful to Google for content discovery.

Muller continues:

“And to some extent, links will always be something we care about because we have to find pages somehow. It’s like how do you find a page on the web without referring to it? »

But I guess over time it won’t be as big of a factor as it sometimes is today. I already think it’s something that has changed quite a bit.

Listen to the full discussion at 1:17 p.m. in Google’s latest Search Off The Record podcast:

Featured image: AlenD/Shutterstock

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