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As we’ve expanded the company, I found myself finally able to use our internal resources to create out & rank our personal projects. I’ve always had the mindset of “drinking our very own Koolaid”, so when we’ve gone down this path, Recently i stumbled in a rabbit hole that gave me a massive burst of excitement and an increase in expectations for which we might do in the future. But it came with a cost: paranoia.

Once the dust settled in the improvements we made, I took a significant take a step back and discovered that whatever we were building was pretty much located on the fault type of a tectonic plate.

It could all come crashing down immediately, all due to one critical assumption that I’ve made to date: that links continue to matter.

I quickly realized that I needed to experience a better gauge about the longevity of links beyond the tweets I happened to see that day. I’ve never had much cause of concern through the years regarding this issue (evidence of how come listed later), however, if I would produce a major bet across the next 12-24 months, I necessary to know the parameters of the could go wrong, which was one of many items near the top of the list.

I finished up discussing things over with some trusted colleagues of mine, in addition to contacting a few other experts that we trusted the opinion of regarding the way ahead for SEO. Thus I wanted to discuss my thinking, along with the overall conclusions I’ve drawn based off the information available.

The primary source of “facts” how the industry points to overall are statements from Google. Yet, there has been numerous instances where what Google is telling us is, at the very least, misleading.

Below are a few recent examples to illustrate as to what way these are misleading:

1. In their “Not Provided” announcement post in October 2011, Google stated that “the change will affect just a minority of your traffic.” Not really a couple of years later, Danny Sullivan was told by Google that they had begun work towards encrypting ALL searches. Others is history.

My thoughts: regardless if we have the facts from Google, it ought to be labeled with huge, red letters from the date the statement was created, because things may change very, very quickly. In cases like this, it had been probably their intention all along to gradually roll this out to all searches, to be able to not anger people too greatly at one time.

2. Google’s John Mueller made this statement a couple of weeks ago about 302 redirects passing PageRank. It implies that 302 redirects are OK for SEO. As Mike King quickly revealed on Twitter, that’s very misleading based off most SEO’s prior experiences.

My thoughts: could it be difficult to think that 302 redirects pass no less than .01% from the PageRank of the page? I don’t think so. So really, this statement isn’t saying much. It’s a non-answer, as it’s framed compared to a 404 (no PR passes) rather than 301 (~90% of PR passes), the direct alternative in this case. So really, it doesn’t answer anything practical.

Take the two examples & realize that things may change quickly, and that you need to decipher what exactly is actually, concretely being said.

So, with that in mind, here are a few recent statements on the topic on this post:

1. March 24, 2016 – Google lists their top three ranking factors as: links, content and RankBrain (though they didn’t state an order from the first couple of; RankBrain is without a doubt 3rd, though).

My thoughts: this isn’t anything new. This list lines track of what they indicated within the RankBrain initial news article in Bloomberg when they stated RankBrain was #3. All of that was left to speculate, until recently, was what #1 and #2 were, though it wasn’t too hard to guess.

2. Feb 2, 2015 – Google confirms which you don’t necessarily need links to rank. John Mueller cites an illustration of friend of his who launched a neighborhood neighborhood website in Zurich as dexhpky71 indexed, ranking, and having search traffic.

My thoughts: this isn’t very surprising, for a couple of reasons. First, that this queries they’re ranking for are most likely very low competition (because: local international), and because Google has become considerably better over time at considering other signals in locations where the website link graph was lacking.

3. May 5, 2014 – Matt Cutts leads off a relevant video by using a disclaimer stating “I think link building packages have several, many years left in them”.

My thoughts: as much of your endorsement as that is, a haunting reminder of how quickly things change is Matt’s comments later inside the video speaking about authorship markup, a project that was eventually abandoned inside the following years.

4. Feb 19, 2014 – Google’s Matt Cutts stated which they tried dropping links altogether off their ranking algorithm, and located it to be “much, much worse”.

My thoughts: interestingly enough, Yandex tried this starting in March 2014 for specific niches, and brought it back per year later after finding that it is unsuccessful. Things change awfully quick, but when there’s any evidence with this list that can add reassurance, the mixture of two different search engine listings trying & failing this is probably best. With that in mind, our main concern isn’t the complete riddance of links, but, its absolute strength like a ranking factor. So, once again, it’s still not all the that reassuring.