Duy Nguyen from Google’s search quality team said in the Google office hours video that “backlinks as a signal has a lot less significant impact compared to when Google Search first started out many years ago.” Duy said this at the 6:08 mark in that video.
I mean, this comes as no surprise to most of you. We recently covered that Google said links would likely become even less important in the future. And even Matt Cutts, the former Googler, said something similar about eight years ago and the truth is, links are weighted a lot less than it was eight years ago and that trend continues. A couple of years ago, Google said links are not the most important Google search ranking factor.
The question asked that generated this answer was from Adrea, who asked, “why does Google keep using backlinks as a ranking factor if link-building campaigns are not allowed? Why can’t Google find other ranking factors that can’t be easily manipulated, like backlinks?”
Duy answered, “First, backlinks as a signal has a lot less significant impact compared to when Google Search first started out many years ago. We have robust ranking signals, hundreds of them, to make sure that we are able to rank the most relevant and useful results for all queries.”
Then Duy gave the line about how these efforts are a waste of time and money, he said “link building campaigns, which are essentially link spam according to our spam policy. We have many algorithms capable of detecting unnatural links at scale and nullifying them. This means that spammers or SEOs spending money on links truly have no way of knowing if the money they spent on link building is actually worth it or not, since it’s really likely that they’re just wasting money building all these spammy links and they were already nullified by our systems as soon as we see them.”
Here is the video embed:
Duy was asked a similar question like this later on in the video at the 19:39 mark, in which he gave a similar answer. So here is the question and answer:
“I’m new to SEO and I see many websites or videos suggest that I should buy backlinks. Are backlinks as powerful or should I focus on maximizing quality of my site?”
There are always people seeking shortcuts or tricks to manipulate, search, ranking, or spend money to make their sites appear more authoritative to search engines. Link spam is an example of these tricks. We no longer use links predominantly compared to 20 years ago, for example. And also launched many algorithms to nullify links spam, and you probably should not waste your money in spamming links. That money is much needed in creating a great website with great user experience and helpful content.
Forum discussion at Twitter.