Google’s algorithm changes over the years have drastically changed the SEO scene. Their treatment of links in particular has changed so much that some go as far as claiming that link building is now dead. How important will the backlinks you have be for your SEO campaigns in the future? This is the question that Matt Cutts answered in his latest Webmaster Help video.
“Backlinks Still Have Many, Many Years Left In Them”
According to Cutts, he thinks backlinks “still have many, many years left in them,” and that they will continue to use links to assess the basic reputation of websites. “But inevitably, what we’retrying to do is figure out how an expert user would say this particular page matched their information needs. And sometimes backlinks matter for that.
He did, however, note that users generally care about content quality, which will mean backlinks won’t be as important as they used to be in the foreseeable future. In line with this, he pointed out that Google wants to focus more on content written by subject matter and field experts. While he didn’t say he was taking about authorship outright, I believe it will be safer to assume that this is one of the factors they will be looking at when determining expertise and authority in content.
“Star Trek” Conversational Search
When backlinks start to be devalued, however, you can expect something else from Google: the further development of their technology to further conversational search.
“Google is getting better and better at understanding actual language,” Cutts explained. “One of the big areas that we’re investing in for the coming few months is trying to figure out how to do more like a ‘Star Trek’ computer. So [it is] conversational search, the sort of search where you can talk to a machine, and it will be able to understand you, so you’re not just using keywords.”
“I think as we get better understanding who wrote something and what the real meaning of that content is, inevitably over time there will be a little less emphasis on links. But I would expect for the next few years, we will continue to use links in order to assess the basic reputation of pages and of sites,” he said.
You can view the full video here:
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