It pains me when I visit SEO hangouts like SiteProNews and run across articles like “Google Says Backlinks are Safe for Now” and see comments in which my fellow webmastering brethren seem surprised, act defensive, or claim that “content is king” and nothing else matters.
Content is only king when (its discovered) linked to, otherwise it would never be found.
Therein lies my current form of thinking on this “anti backlink/backlink fear” phenomenon.
Unless we’re considering the destruction of the publicly available internet, the safety/viability of backlinks shouldn’t be of any surprise to any webmaster or SEO who is capable of critical thought.
Until Google can hire a billion people to actively comprehend all web content for relevance, or make some incredibly smart bots that can act as fill-ins until those billion jobs are filled, back-links aren’t going anywhere any time soon as it relates to being a MAJOR component of search engine algorithms.
Back-links currently serve as the only real tool available for conveying relevance regarding certain topics.
Considering that Google is nothing more than an supersized link-farm serving as a nearly indispensable web index, them hatin’ on back-links is akin to a self inflicted gunshot to the boss toe.
Social Signals are Worthless
Sure… there may be Likes, +1’s, Tweets, Pins, Stumbles, and any number of other social signals available to create a strong social signal, but when the smoke clears, social signals can not be created without the creation of a new backlink. Be it (the link) ignored by search engines, no followed, or liked by many, few or none, social signals are nothing more than a savvy way to get you to share links that you may find interesting.
For Google to put out a new link sharing tool ala G+, then turn around and bad-mouth backlinks, then turn around and tell us the obvious; they’re (backlinks) safe, is nothing more than what amounts to bi-polar delusion from a search giant with an identity crisis coupled with self destructive tendencies.
With that said, (a little off topic) if Bing wasn’t attempting to suck ass through a coffee straw then they would be my default search choice because of all the free Skype time I get. Bing offers highly irrelevant search results with only 3 or 4 returned pages of results for all my queries. Geniuses.
I don’t think any algorithm could ever take social signals with too much weight due to the potential of abuse. Oh yes my friends, you can buy Facebook Likes, G-Plus 1’s and Tweets if you wish. With that in mind, using social signals to replace backlinks is as lame, if not more lame, as us pretending that back-links don’t or won’t matter based on the breath of Matt Cutts.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo
I am not a Google hater. In fact, I use all the search engines and I enjoy the freebies I gain from Bing’s campaign of begging for search queries.
I have always been a big Yahoo Search fan because of the amount of results I can browse through when looking for data.
Google is, by far, my favorite tool to use when I search for information.
I am trying to use Qwant more. Why? Its cool and I like it.
However, when a client walks into my Houston office to inquire about SEO services they never talk about Bing, Yahoo, Qwant, or Ask. Of all my SEO client’s goals one request remains consistent; a demand for high visibility in Google’s search index.
With the demand of Google visibility being commonplace, every time Google breathes there is some blogger on task waiting and willing to sniff their breath. And when they finish smelling their breath, we get a ton of new articles which read like rewritten articles about the last time Google breathed on them.
Matt Cutts is the hairy nose.
Google Is Not Your Webmaster
Google is well within their right to have standards and webmaster guidelines that protect the quality of their search results. However, I feel you lose your right to consider yourself a webmaster if you aren’t the true master of your own webs.
Panic at the whim of a market scare. Utterly destructive.
Google’s algorithmic updates are important, but they will never tell you what they changed, what their intentions are, how it will affect certain SEO tactics, or how you can be protected.
If I would give anyone advice, and I wouldn’t give SEO advice at no charge on purpose, I would simply say don’t be dumb. If it looks or smells shady, then it is shady until proven otherwise. If you did something spammy to get links, you will pay.
If Google has updates to talk about by all means listen, but don’t rebuild your business around it. The engineers at Google update search algorithms everyday, but only discuss algorithmic changes a handful of times per year, if that much.
Webmasters control the internet, not Google. The next time Google attempts a market scare just relax. If you need to make some slight adjustments, fine, but going overboard ain’t the way to go. There are actually people out there who have asked StumbleUpon to remove links to their site. Good grief. Relax.
The web won’t work without backlinks or other forms of referencing information.