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As we’ve expanded the company, I had been finally able to utilize our internal resources to build out & rank our personal projects. I’ve always had the mindset of “drinking our own Koolaid”, so when we’ve gone down this path, I recently stumbled in to a rabbit hole that gave me a huge burst of excitement and a rise in expectations for the purpose we might do in the near future. But it came at the cost: paranoia.

As soon as the dust settled about the improvements we made, I took an important take a step back and found that what we were building was more or less on the fault type of a tectonic plate.

It may all come crashing down instantly, all because of one critical assumption that I’ve made to date: that links continue to matter.

I quickly realized that I needed to get a better gauge about the longevity of links beyond the tweets I happened to read that day. I’ve never had much cause of concern through the years in regards to this issue (proof the reason why listed later), but when I would make a major bet across the next 12-24 months, I needed to are aware of the parameters of the might go wrong, which was one of many items near the top of a list.

I finished up discussing things over by incorporating trusted colleagues of mine, and also contacting a couple of other experts that I trusted the opinion of with regards to the future of SEO. Therefore I wanted to discuss my thinking, along with the overall conclusions I’ve drawn based from the information available.

The main source of “facts” that this industry points to in general are statements from Google. Yet, there were numerous instances where what Google is telling us is, at a minimum, misleading.

Here are several recent examples to illustrate with what way these are misleading:

1. With their “Not Provided” announcement post in October 2011, Google stated that “the change will affect just a minority of your respective traffic.” Not actually two years later, Danny Sullivan was told by Google they had begun focus on encrypting ALL searches. Others is history.

My thoughts: even if we have the facts from Google, it ought to be labeled with huge, red letters of your date the statement was made, because things may change very, in a short time. In such a case, it was actually probably their intention all along to gradually roll this to all searches, so that you can not anger people too greatly at the same time.

2. Google’s John Mueller made this statement a few weeks ago about 302 redirects passing PageRank. It implies that 302 redirects are OK for SEO. As Mike King quickly stated on Twitter, that’s very misleading based off most SEO’s prior experiences.

My thoughts: would it be challenging to think that 302 redirects pass at the very least .01% from the PageRank of the page? I don’t think so. So really, this statement isn’t saying much. It’s a non-answer, as it’s framed as compared to a 404 (no PR passes) rather than 301 (~90% of PR passes), the direct alternative in this case. So really, it doesn’t answer anything practical.

Take those two examples & recognize that things can alter quickly, which you need to decipher what is actually, concretely being said.

So, with that in mind, below are a few recent statements on the topic on this post:

1. March 24, 2016 – Google lists their top 3 ranking factors as: links, content and RankBrain (although they didn’t state the order in the first two; RankBrain is without a doubt 3rd, though).

My thoughts: this isn’t anything new. This list lines with the things they indicated inside the RankBrain initial news article in Bloomberg when they stated RankBrain was #3. All of that was left to speculate, so far, was what #1 and #2 were, while it wasn’t too difficult to guess.

2. Feb 2, 2015 – Google confirms that you simply don’t necessarily need links to rank. John Mueller cites a good example of friend of his who launched a nearby neighborhood website in Zurich as dexhpky71 indexed, ranking, and obtaining search traffic.

My thoughts: this isn’t very surprising, for 2 reasons. First, how the queries they’re ranking for are most likely very low competition (because: local international), and furthermore, as Google has brought considerably better throughout the years at looking at other signals in areas where the link graph was lacking.

3. May 5, 2014 – Matt Cutts leads off a relevant video having a disclaimer stating “I think link building firm have many, quite a few years left in them”.

My thoughts: all the of an endorsement as that is certainly, a haunting reminder of how quickly things change is Matt’s comments later within the video referring to authorship markup, a project that had been eventually abandoned inside the following years.

4. Feb 19, 2014 – Google’s Matt Cutts stated they tried dropping links altogether from the ranking algorithm, and found so that it is “much, much worse”.

My thoughts: interestingly enough, Yandex tried this starting in March 2014 for specific niches, and brought it back annually later after finding it to be unsuccessful. Things change awfully quick, but if there’s any evidence for this list that could add reassurance, the mix of two different search engines like yahoo trying & failing this is probably best. With that in mind, our main concern isn’t the whole riddance of links, but instead, its absolute strength like a ranking factor. So, again, it’s still not every that reassuring.