According to Google, Links Are No Longer a Top 3 Ranking Factor

Curious about the latest developments in SEO ranking factors? Well, buckle up because we’re diving into Google’s recent statement that links are no longer a top 3 ranking factor.

As a website owner, you understand the importance of staying on top of the ever-changing SEO landscape. We, at Horizon Marketing, with our 17 years of experience, are here to break down this controversial statement and help you navigate the implications for your website.

Let’s dig deeper and determine if we should trust the statement.

The Evolution of Google’s Ranking Factors

As a website owner, you may be curious about the evolution of Google’s ranking factors.

Over the years, Google has continually updated its algorithm to provide users with the most relevant and high-quality search results.

In the early days, factors like keyword density and backlinks played a significant role in determining a website’s ranking.

However, as technology advanced and search engine optimization practices evolved, Google started to prioritize user experience and content quality.

Today, factors such as mobile-friendliness, page loading speed, site security, and user engagement are crucial for achieving higher rankings.

Google’s focus has shifted towards providing users with the best possible experience, ensuring that websites meet their needs and offer valuable information.

What is the Importance Of Backlinks In SEO?

To understand the impact of Google’s recent statement that links are no longer a top 3 ranking factor, let’s delve into the significance of backlinks in SEO.

Backlinks, also known as inbound links or incoming links, are links that point from one website to another. They play a crucial role in determining a website’s credibility and authority in the eyes of search engines. Backlinks are seen as votes of confidence from other websites, indicating that your content is valuable and trustworthy.

In the past, the number of backlinks a website had was a strong ranking factor. However, Google’s algorithm has evolved to prioritize quality over quantity. Today, the relevance, authority, and trustworthiness of the linking site are more important than the sheer number of backlinks.

Below are few quotes from Google internal experts that reflect evolving trends in SEO:

In September 2023, Gary Illyes is heard speaking at a Pubcon Pro event in Austin:

“I think they are important, but I think people overestimate the importance of links. I don’t agree it’s in the top three. It hasn’t been for some time…Without content it literally is not possible to rank. If you don’t have words on page you’re not going to rank for it. Every site will have something different as the top 2 or 3 ranking factors.”

In the November 2022 SEO Office Hours episode of Google, Duy Nguyen stated:

Backlinks as a signal has a lot less significant impact compared to when Google Search first started out many years ago. We have robust ranking signals, hundreds of them, to make sure that we are able to rank the most relevant and useful results for all queries.

In Google’s November 2022 Search of The Record Podcast, John Mueller:

Well, it’s something where I imagine, over time, the weight on the links at some point will drop off a little bit as we can figure out a little bit better how the content fits in within the context of the whole web.…But my guess is over time, it won’t be such a big factor as sometimes it is today. I think already, that’s something that’s been changing quite a bit.”

2016 saw links become increasingly crucial. In order to rank websites on Google Search, backlinks are one of the top three factors, according to Andrey Lipattsev, a senior strategist for Google search quality, underscoring the importance of backlinks.

Therefore, while now backlinks may not be the sole ranking factor, they still hold significant importance in SEO efforts.

Other Key Ranking Factors to Consider to Improve SEO

Now that you know that links are no longer a top ranking factor, it’s important to consider other key factors that can influence your website’s ranking on Google. We will discuss these factors below:

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

When considering the ranking factors for Google, it’s important to prioritize being mobile-friendly.

With the majority of internet users accessing websites through mobile devices, Google has placed a significant emphasis on mobile responsiveness and usability.

This means that your website should be designed and optimized for mobile devices, ensuring a seamless and user-friendly experience for mobile users.

Mobile-friendly indexing has become a key factor in determining search rankings, as Google wants to deliver the best possible results to users on mobile devices.

To meet this requirement, make sure your website is mobile-friendly, with responsive design, fast loading times, and easy navigation.

Focus on Content Quality

You should continue prioritizing content quality as one of the key factors to consider for improving your website’s visibility and rankings on Google, building upon the emphasis on being mobile-first.

While Google has stated that links are no longer a top 3 ranking factor, it’s important to note that content quality has always been a crucial element in ranking algorithms. Google values high-quality, relevant, and informative content that provides value to users.

By focusing on creating well-written, original content that meets the needs of your target audience, you can increase your chances of ranking higher in search results.

Additionally, optimizing your content with relevant keywords, providing a great user experience, and ensuring your website loads quickly are also important factors to consider for improving your website’s visibility and rankings on Google.

Focus on using relevant keywords

To effectively optimize your website for relevant keywords and improve its rankings on Google, it’s essential to consistently and strategically incorporate these keywords into your content.

When selecting keywords, consider their relevance to your business, industry, and target audience. Conduct thorough keyword research to identify high-value keywords with significant search volume and low competition.

Once you have identified these keywords, strategically place them in your website’s meta tags, headers, titles, and throughout your content. However, be careful not to overdo it and engage in keyword stuffing, as this can negatively impact your rankings. Instead, focus on creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content that naturally incorporates these keywords.

Additionally, consider optimizing your website’s URL structure, internal linking, and anchor text to further enhance its keyword relevance.

Consider the structure of your website

Consider incorporating your website’s structure into your SEO strategy to optimize for other key ranking factors, apart from links. While Google has stated that links are no longer a top 3 ranking factor, it’s important to remember that there are other factors at play.

One of these factors is the structure of your website. A well-organized and easily navigable website can improve user experience, which in turn can lead to higher rankings. Ensure that your website has a logical hierarchy, with clear and descriptive URLs, and a well-structured internal linking system.

Additionally, optimize your website’s loading speed to provide a seamless browsing experience. By focusing on your website’s structure, you can enhance its overall performance and potentially improve its search engine rankings.

You can read more about the factors to consider for high website ranking and conversions here.

Conclusion: Should We Trust Google’s Statement?

Based on Google’s statement, can we really place trust in the claim that links are no longer a top 3 ranking factor? While it’s important to consider Google’s perspective and insights, it’s crucial to approach this claim with caution.

Google has a long history of evolving its algorithms and refining its ranking factors, so it’s possible that links may have lost some of their significance in recent updates. However, many SEO experts and industry studies still emphasize the importance of links in improving website rankings.

Links serve as a crucial signal of authority and relevance, and they continue to play a vital role in determining search engine rankings. Therefore, it’s advisable to take Google’s statement with a grain of salt and continue to prioritize link-building strategies as part of a comprehensive SEO approach. It’s crucial to stay informed and make informed decisions based on a comprehensive understanding of all ranking factors.

Horizon Marketing consistently remains at the forefront, guaranteeing that your strategies are in line with the most up-to-date SEO trends and knowledge. No matter if it’s link building, creating content, or any other part of SEO, we have the capabilities to boost your website to the highest position.

Take proactive steps to stay ahead of SEO trends.  Schedule an appointment now for a Free Consultation with us and an Estimate. While you are here, feel free to check out our portfolio and video testimonials.