• http://twitter.com/Nyagoslav Nyagoslav Zhekov

    Danny, I’m sure Google (and I… hope Bing, too) have realized long ago that links are getting way too irrelevant a signal to be trusted as much as in the early 2000’s. The obvious evidence for this is Plus. They desperately need reliable, high quality, detailed social data and they figured out the only way to get it might be to simply “push” as hard as possible they user base. That’s why G+ is not a social network and it has never been meant to be one. It’s a data bank…

  • RyanMJones

    Social alone isn’t the answer though.  If we apply reductio ad absurdum and completely replace links with social mentions then we’d end up seeing Oatmeal’s fundraiser rank #1 for terms like “cancer” instead of webmd, mayo clinic, etc.  As for everybody getting a vote, what’s that old saying? Majority rule doesn’t work in mental institutions? 

    When I’m looking for information I want trusted sources, not whatever meme was most popular with my friends.
    Part of me thinks Google has to have already tried this as an experiment to see what would happen.  They had access to the entire Twitter firehose at one point, we’d be remiss to think they didn’t experiment with it.  I’m guessing the data they’ve gathered both from search query refinement / bounces back to the search page and human raters found that links still served value.

    I’m not saying social mentions have no value. They seem to be working great for further augmenting search results based on what my contacts showed interested in, but I don’t think we’re at a point where we can completely get rid of links and switch to social mentions.  That day may come, but we’re not there yet.  

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    I have often said that the search engines could fix a lot of these spam issues by dropping their reliance on link anchor text.  They could still count the PageRank.  The idea that “links are votes” was never good to begin with.  Links were being gamed before Google came along anyway.  Citation analysis is flawed and Google’s proof of its good characteristics was based on their analysis of the Stanford University Website and similar highly vetted resources.  Once they got out onto the real Web the links became less helpful.

    Still, if the day comes when search engines take the links away, they will be criticized if they don’t engineer a soft transition.  People need to keep that in mind: “Be careful what you ask for, you just may get it.”

  • http://twitter.com/rankingsignals Ranking Signals

    I still don’t understand the problem with Google simply not counting links it determines to be SPAM (whether they are or not). No reverse SEO implications, no paying directories not to link to you, continue fighting to get real links from real authoritative websites. Is it really a mystery whether a website is or is not an authority (and/or a relevant authority)? 

  • SEMMetric


  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Google discounts links for reasons other than them being spam. It may feel some links are overcounted, such as a site-wide link that’s not spam just appearing often. It can’t count links that are nofollowed. It can’t count links that aren’t ever created at all.

  • http://www.pixelrage.net Pixelrage

    The whole ‘backlinks’ issue has been outdated for far too long…and Google states that it’s pretty much inevitably here to stay? A shame.

    Just in doing due diligence on competitors, it’s amazing what you’ll see — hundreds, thousands of links from content-spun or “created to give backlinks” blog sites, paid links galore (blatant ones), mini-sites on different IP’s, etc. The lengths that people go through to exploit just this one ranking signal is ridiculous. Yet, I’m referring to competitors who have the #1, 2 & 3 spot on SERP 1.

    I’m also referring to post-Panda/Penguin results…a lot of good that did.

  • http://anthonygoodley.com/SEO Anthony Goodley

    Danny I think the last point you made about how everyone gets a social vote, whereas only a small percentage of Internet users are webmaster and can link up to content they like in a manner that carries much weight, is a very good one. Sure people will game social networking sites, but as more users actively Like, Tweet, +1…. the gaming noise will mostly get drowned out by legitimate signals which makes it much more reliable than links.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ruud.vanderveen Ruud van der Veen

    I agree with Nyagoslav Zhekov . Besides : Google introduced the link from other website as a fantastic signal from users for years. Why is it, that real users never had a website to link from. There were always other companies, collegue webmasters, link from one to another. And now is Google complaining. The world is n’t behaving like they like to have.

    In earlier years real content was nothing, only links counted to the top of the bill in the serp’s.
    Why don’t we have a search engine, competing Google, and counting on real users voices : real users in common are not interested, just a happy few.
    It’s still waiting for a new fantastic signal, not only Google +1, because it’s not serving the whole world.

  • http://meyerweb.com/ Eric Meyer

    If the search engines aren’t already combining link data with social signal data, I expect they will very soon.  Especially since Twitter tends to straddle that line: a massively retweeted link to something is both a strong social signal and a link (or a lot of links, depending on how you look at it).  That’s why they’re still saying that links will remain a factor, it seems to me.

  • Cristóbal Mejía

    Finally! I have several years feeling the same, search for links, submit to directories, common you’r late Google, we need another way to rank sites. Social will be great option for now and 2 or 3 years in future, but then? what’s next? 

  • cjvannette

    The funny thing is, Doctorow didn’t nofollow the link to the SEO company he ragged on. Meaning he helped them out bigtime.

  • brown smith

    nice post keep it up

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