Links from other websites (or “backlinks” in the unofficial SEO nerdish lingo) are a big part of how Google is ranking sites on its search results page. You know, this simple little page that can make site owners millionaires or frustrated bitter poor folks…
Until recent years, the formula for ranking higher was pretty known: Many links from quality websites- Yay! Few links from shitty websites- Boo! Even after the Penguin algorithm update came along and messed things up a bit, it was clear that links are still the Luke Skywalker of rankings (or Darth Vader to some).
But there’s a new Han Solo star on the search rankings arena which just might serve Master GoogleYoda (enough with the Star Wars references!) better. Should Google grant social signals such as Facebook’s Like, Twitter’s Tweet and Google+’s +1 more significance on its search algorithm on the expense of those elderly links?
According to Google’s Obi-Wan Matt Cutts (oops!), not quite yet. On a conversation with Danny Sullivan at SMX Advanced conference back at the beginning of the month, Cutts explained that people shouldn’t eulogize links and crown social signals as their heir so fast…
From my simple Jedi Knight understanding, Cutts is essentially saying that links are a firm ranking signal and they are about to remain a strong indication in the foreseen future. He also mentions that no-follow links makes up just a small single-digit percentage out of all links on the web.
As for social signals, Cutts is saying that it’s pretty premature to reach the conclusion that “everything will go social”. Moreover, Cutts has drawn his lightsaber and stated that this whole perception that links are dying is “a little bit of a bubble in the SEO industry” (ouch, whiny SEOs).
In the end, Cutts stating that he has no doubt that in ten years social signals will be more powerful, which means… Absolutely nothing. Google search algorithm is developing and changing unrecognizably sometimes within months so pushing the discussion ten years forward is basically saying “leave me the fu*k alone and get me Princess Leia phone number” (or something like that).