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September 24, 2008

SEO, Is It All About Links? Not Anymore

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With so many new algorithms being adjusted, modified or replaced altogether, between the cached version of the SERPs (search engine result pages) and the actual index there are obvious discrepancies leaving their mark on the web.

The New Search Engine Moderator – Indexing and De-indexing

Before you can rank competitively, achieving the proper balance between your on page SEO (the factors you control) and your off page SEO (who links to you and how their site fares) need to exist.

Granted the metric that relies on links to determine relevance is waning and being replaced by other known performance indicators such as user engagement, time spent on each page, the depth of the visit, as well as traffic volume are all up as the new measuring stick for website / search engine performance.

Are Links Being Replaced as a Key Metric?

I am not implying that they are a replacement for links, links still have a large percentage of favor for ranking websites competitively, but their days are numbered as the main contributing factor to assess popularity and rankings.

The thing about links is, they can be affect pages from either your own site or be affected by other sites pages linking to your pages (with very little warning). Link diversity, link velocity and link clusters are now met with scrutiny by advanced formulas to determine true validity and relevance to assess value from Google.

The pattern I have been witnessing for the last few months is an adjustment to delivery and indexing of changes, pages and fresh content and de-indexed of new or older content in the multiple data centers is creating a topsy-turvey (churning) affect on the varying degrees of search engine result pages stability.

Link Interrogation and Litmus Tests or Quality Control?

Discovery and quarantine is one way of looking at the evaluation process (for new pages), or quality control is yet another perspective for the deindexing process (for existing page). With so many pages from so many websites, sharing information from the cloud (the trail of data shared by multiple data centers and the bin of data they draw from), sometimes, this leaves some variables based on aggregate results out to lunch when assessing link weight, relevance score and authority benchmarks for your site. Why? because the rules of what it takes to be in the index has changed.

Considering if a page that links to you that had 70% of the link weight needed for your page to rank competitively lost favor with a new component of the algorithm, then what happens to your rankings? (they take a dip).

Are Changes in Relevance Score Raising the Bar?

Changes in the everflux and relevance is constantly evaluated and re-evaluated in relation to target pages, but now, with new ranking mechanisms making their debut, it appears that it takes less for on page and off page triggers to create plummeting affects to indicate criteria it finds less significant as a metric of evaluation.

Fine Tuning or Raising the Bar?

The point here is, with so many adjustments fine tuning search results, shoring up link popularity with link insurance by either linking to your links (one or two tiers back) of ensuring that your old content is receiving enough deep links to receive vital link juice has taken on a new level of importance.

Action and Reaction Equates to Performance

Every time you add, receive or change a link, you are affecting your site and link profile. Every time you change a word on your pages, or add a new page, you are changing how search engine spiders and data centers see your site.

As a resource, it is all about data in to data out (if hub status and website authority is your objective). However, a healthy site with a stable link profile and content that is updated less frequently ranks much different that a site that receives a great deal of links in a short period of time, gets waves of flash in the pan traffic from social media and constantly is developing new content and changing the on page factors.

Just think of the new algorithms as gatekeepers that have one purpose, to assess just how deep the rabbit hole runs in relation to your content as it cross-references that information with other key metrics that affect base position in the SERPs. Naturally, results are ever changing and ongoing in search engines, so this is not a post about conclusions, rather it is to bring awareness of the types of process we can observe that leave a clear trail.

Is the Long-Tail Shrinking or New Criteria Assessing Relevance?

Based on the tests we have run, the long tail of search is now the new target for reform, the algorithm may in fact be clipping the tail of most search results which would imply a new system of benchmarking relevance. However, this could also be tied to the de-indexing process mentioned above where search engine results make it into the index, are tested and then removed to see if they are elected back into the mix after being tested by a battery of secondary criteria.

It used to be a few links per page was more than enough to secure a legacy in search engines, with the algorithm potentially upping the bar. Let’s see how many sites make the grade and keep their pages, or have to go back to the drawing board and earn their way back in to Google’s index by providing more value to the masses or the niche with content that exceeds the need of previous quality standards.

Jeffrey Smith is an active internet marketing optimization strategist, consultant and the founder of Seo Design Solutions Seo Company http://www.seodesignsolutions.com. He has actively been involved in internet marketing since 1995 and brings a wealth of collective experiences and fresh marketing strategies to individuals involved in online business.

5 Responses to “SEO, Is It All About Links? Not Anymore

    Very detailed information here about link building. Though I think we can get very complex at times and leave people wondering what to do then. I think if we stick to link building using anchor text (keywords) long tailed and short and blogging is the way to go.

    Thanks for the article – I’ve found maintaining a blog on a different domain really helps my linking scores

    avatar SEO, Is It All About Links? Not Anymore | Search Engine Optimization says:

    […] SEO, Is It All About Links? Not Anymore […]

    avatar SEO says:

    Natural linking pattern is the key I think, Google is trying to catch and devalue all SEO link building efforts. Sometimes professionals must go very complex because Google algos actually are complex… Beginners should just try to build good quality sites and know few basics of SEO. Thanks for article.

    I’ve been witnessing these changes in the link/ranking relationship for a few months. As far as my test have gone, it seems that Google is increasing weight from other factors, although traditional link-buliding still gives an edge for sites in not-so-competitive keyword niches.

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