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Google & Linkbuilding

Google’s relationship with links has changed over the last 15 years – it started out as a love affair but nowadays the Facebook status would probably read: “It’s Complicated”. I think Google are beginning to suffer from trust issues, brought about by well over a decade of the SEO community manipulating the link graph.

Are links less important than they were?

Back in the early days Google treated all links as being equal. A link in the footer was as good as a link in the main content, a link in bad content was as good as a link in good content, and so on.

The black hats created all sorts of problems, but the white hats were also manipulating the link graph.

Every link would be examined for various accompanying signals, and it would be weighted according to these signals.

They’ve also introduced an increasing number of signals for evaluating pages beyond the link based signals that made them.

So in the last 2 years 15% of the algorithm that was links has been replaced by other signals in relative importance.

Are social signals the answer?

The SEO community has been talking a lot about social signals the last couple of years, and whether they are going to replace links. Google still need the links – they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The social votes are signals about web sites/pages and not about the links — they don’t operate on the graph in the same manner as links.

Putting the trust back into links

In June last year Google introduced rel author, the method that allows a web page to announce the author of the page by pointing to a Google+ profile page (which has to link back to the site for 2 way verification).

We’re seeing the graphs merge into a new Web Graph augmented by author data, where some links are explicitly authored links:

This is incredibly powerful for Google as it allows them to verify the author of a web page. This gives two advantages:

  • Knowing this is an authored link, by a human who they have data about, they can place far more trust in a link. Its likely that a link authored manually by a human is of higher quality, and that a human is unlikely to claim responsibility for a link if it is spammy.
  • Furthermore it allows them to change the weighting of links according to the AuthorRank of the author who placed the link.

Where to Who

So what does all this imply that you do? The obvious things are ensuring that you (and your clients) are using authorship markup, and of course you should try to become trustable in the eyes of Google.
The big thing is that we need a shift in our mindset from where we are getting links from to who we are getting links from. We need to still do the traditional stuff, sure, but we need to ask start thinking about ‘who’ more and more.
Read the full story here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/authorship-google-plus-link-building

Chain by Monica Galante

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