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I lose track of the conversations I have with marketing agencies, looking to hire my services as a link builder, who only have one goal in mind. Build links, whatever the cost, and the more the merrier. Of course they all know about Penguins and Pandas, oh my, and are quick to add things like, “high DA”, or “PR over 4”. The trouble is I don’t think they have understood quite how dramatically the SEO scene has changed, and still is changing.
Google is moving away from focusing on the amount of links a site has, we all know this, but is it also losing interest in links period? For all those talking about Authority and high PR for their SEO strategies, is Google not more interested in how many people are following those links to your site? Is it not also more interested in how many people have actually hit the page you are linking from, and stayed there to read what you have contributed, and also liked what you wrote? Tweeted what you have to say? This is where Google is heading, and the Pandas and Penguin updates are very strong hints of this.
Why Do I think This?I have analysed hundreds of links over the past two years to look at variations in their value, over long and short periods of time. I have watched as sites have gained ranking in shorter and shorter bursts many times as their links values are continually reduced. We are all aware how quickly article back links as well as press release back links lost a massive amount of value. The funny thing is, Google insists on having a “varied link portfolio”, safe in the knowledge that most of the links out there are easily created, and therefore not worth much. Bookmarks, social signals etc can all be created and sent to sites in small doses, to mimic a natural effect.
Are we thinking Google isn’t aware of this ? I would say it clearly is, and without wanting to sound paranoid, is already finalising the next dose of reality that the SEO world is going to have to take. Guest posting, (like I am doing here), is a great way to gain a link from an authority site. Would it hold the same value if I don’t tweet it to my 1200 odd followers, and promote it to my hundreds of connections on Linked In. The answer is no. So clearly my authority link depends on a serious amount of general content promotion, as well as the value of the site I am linking from. Is it way off the bat to think that a links value is going to depend much more on the traffic that is hitting the piece of content, and, or, travelling through to the actual site, more than the actual platform it is coming from, however prestigious? That would be a very efficient way to monitor a links value, is what Google currently does as part of its algorithmic analysis of sites, and would ensure that only quality content that searchers want to read is rewarded. The question is Why wouldn’t Google look at links this way a lot more?
My PredictionI see links and traffic being much closer related when decisions on their value are being considered by Google. A massive part of a sites domain authority already depends on the traffic levels it receives, and the size of its bounce rate. Due to the effective way this can whittle away at the “spam” online, I can only see this becoming more and more prominent in Google’s algorithm updates, as a way of ensuring only genuine quality links is counted, and that a sites authority is based firmly on readers and the visitors it attracts as well as the ability for a site to hold onto those visitors and readers effectively. This is already part of the process of valuing a site. I just predict this will be a much bigger part of the process. Links now need to be from high quality content, on sites that attract a lot of visitors, and allow for social media promotion of their content easily.
Whether that is a guest post or a blog comment, the main factor will be how many people you can get to look at your content and also follow through the link to your site. The DA and PR will not be as important as this factor in helping your site gain and maintain authority in the eyes of the search engines. If I am right you protect your site or your clients with strong high traffic back links. If I am wrong, you can always go back to buying and creating high PR and DA links just as you did before. It is definitely time to put traffic before a back links source strength, in my mind.
This is a Guest Post By Daniel Vassiliou.
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