This is idle speculation. But what do you think about backlinks?
Here's what I'm thinking. Backlinks are the big thing now. SEO marketers love them. I haven't heard anybody question their use. But I don't think that's going to last.
For what it's worth, my opinion is that Google's going to stop valuing backlinks in the not-too-distant future. They've evidenced repeatedly that they don't like SEO techniques that systematically game the system. And aren't self-originated backlinks kinda the new versions of link farms? A quick way to self-promote and bypass organic traffic building?
Backlinks will always bring value in terms of the direct traffic they bring. But hasn't Google shown they prefer to rank a Web page based on its value to users, not on promotion efforts? They convey that idea over and over again, at least in their blogs and help pages.
And although some backlinks provide value to users, too many don't--they just clutter up the Web with contentless content--which is something Google seems to tsk-tsk at.
I just don't see backlinks as a promotional method surviving beyond another couple of years. Google has a history of trouncing any self-promotion techniques that go beyond writing good content pages--at least, once the techniques start being used widely by marketers.
Admittedly, there may come a time in the not-too-distant future when Google no longer rules the rankings, and other priorities will rule.
So what do y'all think?
Everything changes all the time. But until backlinks die, I'm still doing them. I find it does make a difference. And it has for quite a long time.
Yeah I don't notice the OP suggesting some other way to work out whether content is useful to the user or not! I'm pretty happy with backlinks for the moment!
Oops...not meaning to suggest anyone should not use backlinks. I'm just kinda fascinated by the machinations of the Internet and constantly get into trouble when I speculate.
And no...you're right, I didn't suggest another way for Google to rank content. I'm all about second-guessing Google, not coming up with answers for them.
I do see evidence that they're looking for other ways to rank content, though. I don't think they ever stop. It's THE big problem of search engines. Same with academic libraries--the big problem is how, how, HOW to catalog the ever-growing Internet?
I'm curious, for Misha and others who disagree...why do you think backlinks will have longevity?
Cause a body in motion tends to stay in motion. I don't see any signs of them losing their power. When I see this, I will deal with it.
Interesting question! Another way to determine relevance is by actually looking at how people consume and travel through the content. It seems like Google is gaining a pretty staggering dominance on web statistics with Analytics, imagine the step back from Analytics that compiles sites, and the step back which compiles topics, countries, etc... a galaxy of sites connected not necessarily by content relevance, but by social factors.
It's tough to say to what extent Google would use that as a determining factor for page ranking... the real problem is that Google doesn't have traffic stats on every web site so it wouldn't be a complete picture unless everyone used Chrome or Google Toolbar as well. There's a million other problems too, I'm sure.
There are tons of applications for social relevance in communities, like buying products from Amazon or choosing which ads to display to Facebook visitors.
Dunno... what would happen if Google ranking became based entirely on traffic patterns, viewing time, demographics, user interaction... and less on the mechanical connections between pages and content? If my search results were entirely different from yours simply because I am a programmer and you are a business executive?
I think backlinks are here to stay, but Google will continue to adjust their algorithms based upon the source of the backlink. They will try to figure out which backlinks sources are good and which are questionable.
For example, some have said that Google likes ezines because each article is reviewed by a human first before going live, and each article is limited to how many links it can have.
It's not just about backlinks, it's about the quality of the backlinks. My understanding is Google greatly downrated reciprocal linking some time ago. It was too easy and became meaningless so the emphasis now is on quality one way links.
Ultimately if you get a link from the BBC or CNN with PR 9 or 10 how can Google ignore that? It has to give a site authority. OK so that may be out of reach for most of us but I'm spending time building links from quality sites that I'm aware of, usually those with editors.
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