In The Future, Links May Not Have Such Importance To Google’s Search Engine Ranking Algorithms

Gary Green
Gary Green
November 14, 2022

At the moment, links are considered to be essential when it comes to optimising a website to rank highly in Google’s search engine rankings. However, it’s possible that in the future, things on this front could change significantly. 

John Mueller from Google has recently been quoted as saying that he sees a potential future where Google Search ranking algorithms don’t put as much importance on links as they do today. Another hint that he dropped during the same interview implied that links aren’t as heavily weighted today as they once were when it comes to Google’s ranking algorithm.

Recent studies have revealed that, at the present time, links remain vitally important for any website that needs to rank highly on the Google search engine. Relatively recently, Google was quoted as saying that links were in its top three factors for ranking, although not in first place. Yet, Mueller’s recent revelation implies that links may already have fallen below the top three search engine ranking factors.

Why Does Mueller’s Statement Matter?

Marketers are often obsessed with links. So much so, in fact, that they fail to focus properly on the content that they create. Yet creating excellent content generates links in itself, with no need to request any or put in any significant link-building effort. 

Although links aren’t yet dead as one of Google’s ranking factors, it’s clear that Google will be relying less heavily on them as its algorithms become better at being able to understand content.

Why Are Links Going To Become Less Important?

In recent years, a large amount of SEO best practice has centred around link building, since that was a sure fire way of increasing rankings. However, as search elements get added to Google’s systems and its algorithms get updated, there are several ways other than using links that Google can use to ensure users see the best possible search engine results.

It is those changes that will directly impact the future direction of Google’s search engines. As an example, if Google makes advancements to its web crawlers, they will be better able to find and index search results efficiently.

It’s also likely that Google will begin to place a greater focus on websites which deliver helpful and relevant content, whatever their domain authority. In fact, websites that have an excellent domain authority and lots of links that point to them but have substandard content will actually see a negative impact from changes in Google’s algorithms. 

Therefore, creating high-quality, relevant content that gives users solutions for their search intents will be the best way to ensure your website continues to rank highly.

Links are also set to hold less importance as Google begins to understand natural language. Google’s BERT’s algorithm update has an AI subset and natural language processing in order to begin learning and understanding natural language. As Google’s algorithms become increasingly tuned into natural language, links will become less and less important.

What Other SEO Trends Could Lie Ahead That Would Result In A Reduced Focus On Links?

While link building is likely to become less important, there are other SEO elements that are likely to become more important in the future.

For example, search intent is almost certain going to become increasingly important as time goes on. Google must give users accurate information to fulfil their search intent, and that means that content creators must put search intent at the heart of their practices too.

Whenever a user searches for a query on Google, they check to determine whether the results they receive are relevant to what they’ve searched for. When that information has relevance, they stay around for longer and if the information isn’t relevant, they return to their search results. That sends Google a message that the content may be irrelevant. If this continues to happen, the lower your website will rank in the SERPs. With this in mind, it’s essential to tailor content so that it’s relevant to users’ search intents.

Semantic searches are also set to become more important. Semantics deals with words and their meanings as well as the relationships they have with each other in specific context. At one time, Google was only able to provide search results for phrases. But today, its algorithm updates mean that it can consider contextual meaning and intent in a user’s search query. That means content creators must not only consider search intents but also semantic meanings of users’ search terms when creating content.

Another significant ranking factor that is set to become even more important in future is UX or user experience. Perception, usefulness, user-friendliness, value, and enjoyment are all vital components for a good user experience, and the better user experience your website provides, the higher it will rank. To improve user experience, your page must be as accessible as possible, with short load times, relevant and valuable content, and resourceful images.

Mobile-friendliness is one further element to keep in mind going forward when creating websites, since the world is becoming increasingly dependent on the use of mobile devices to carry out internet searches. 

Google has already said that mobile-friendliness has a key role to play in its algorithms, and that is only going to increase as time goes on, along with an increased reliance on voice search. Although Google’s voice search algorithms are not yet perfected, it’s very likely that this change is on the horizon, and as more users opt to use voice search over manual input, it’s likely that Google will adapt its algorithms to ensure this is a key ranking factor.

SEO Of The Future

If you look back at the world of SEO a few years ago, and then look at it today, you’re sure to see plenty of changes. In a few years time, even more changes will have taken place, and while some elements will likely remain the same, others will become increasingly advanced. With this in mind, it couldn’t be more important for marketers to stay at the peak of their game, and to be persistent, diligent, and forward-thinking to remain successful.

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