Google changed the search engine market in the 90s by evaluating a website’s backlinks instead of just the content, like others did. Updates like Panda and Penguin show a shift in importance towards content. Will backlinks lose their importance?
Google’s Matt Cutts answers:
“Well, I think backlinks have many, many years left in them, but inevitably, what we’re trying to do is figure out how an expert user would say this particular page matched their information needs, and sometimes backlinks matter for that,” says Cutts.
“It’s helpful to find out what the reputation of a site or of a page is, but for the most part, people care about the quality of the content on that particular page – the one that they landed on. So I think over time, backlinks will become a little less important. If we could really be able to tell, you know, Danny Sullivan wrote this article or Vanessa Fox wrote this article – something like that, that would help us understand, ‘Okay, this is something where it’s an expert – an expert in this particular field – and then even if we don’t know who actually wrote something, Google is getting better and better at understanding actual language.”
“One of the big areas that we’re investing in for the coming few months is trying to figure out more like how to do a Star Trek computer, so conversational search – the sort of search where you can talk to a machine, and it will be able to understand you, where you’re not just using keywords,” he adds.
Cutts continues (and this part is very interesting),”And in order to understand what someone is saying, like, ‘How tall is Justin Bieber?’ and then, you know, ‘When was he born?’ to be able to know what that’s referring to, ‘he’ is referring to Justin Bieber – that’s the sort of thing where in order to do that well, we need to understand natural language more. And 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 will continue to use links in order to assess the basic reputation of pages and of sites.”
Chris Crum of WebProNews asks if backlinks will become less important over time, “does that mean traditional organic results will continue to become a less significant part of the Google search experience? It’s certainly already trended in that direction over the years.”
Wishy Washy Google-speak
In my view, overuse of the word “quality” in SEO-speak – quality content, quality backlinks, etc – has rendered the word nonsensical. Whilst is it obvious that Google can’t tell us exactly how it determines its ranking, or we would all cut corners and be able to manipulate the rankings theoretically lowering the ‘user experience’ of the person using Google, sometimes the vagueness and wishi-washy language used by Google to inform us about what we should or should not be doing is simply irritating.
Does Google want you to pay to play
Let’s look at quality backlinks, theory has it that if your site has quality content then reputable websites will link to it sending Google a signal that if they reckon you’re good, then you must be good.
Sounds logical enough. So I have a brand new website for my plumbing supplies shop in London, let’s assume I’ve dotted the is and crossed the ts as far as the SEO of the site is concerned. My shop is the best damn plumbing shop in London so people searching SHOULD be served with my plumbing shop website if they are look for it. Right?
Now then which quality sites will link to my website? How do I keep people ‘engaged’ with quality content? If I blog about plumbing I’ll be either (a) telling my clients how to do it without me or (b) talking to my competitors tell them about new products on the market.
Moreover, once I’ve written a quality text for my homepage, about us, services, products and contact us pages, is this enough? Do I wait three or four months to see if Google will give me a page rank? How do I get traffic to the site if nobody can see it? If nobody can see it because it’s on page infinity on Google (aka page 4) then is it not a vicious circle? How long before anyone gets to see my website.
The penny drops
Wait! How about PPC, I could PAY for someone to see my ad via Google’s nifty AdWords. But that would mean I am paying Google for something which in essence should be free, because I really do have the best damn plumbing shop in London, and people using Google deserve to be served with the best results, right?
Truth is Google is a business, pure and simple. Here’s a headline from a couple of weeks ago sums it up “Google profits rise but ad cost-per-click income slides”
“Google has revealed profits for the first quarter of 2014 of $3.45bn, up from $3.35bn in the same period last year, but its average cost-per-click income has fallen, causing concern among investors,” according to Dan Worth writing for V3.co.uk.
What do you think investors will be saying to the board of directors? Let Alfredo have his plumbing shop in London listed for free so he does not need to advertise on Google?
I’ll stop rambling, you get my point. Don’t you?
As well as a Ninja and all-round nice fellow Alfredo Bloy-Dawson is head of internet marketing at Voodoo erm Internet Marketing..