Links have always had a big focus in SEO, even more so now for various (and very different) reasons; but what if links aren’t as important as we think?
Google is waging a war on dodgy links at the moment that has some site owners and search engine optimization professionals a little nervous about a thing called “negative SEO”.
The premise is a competitor could pay to have a bunch of low quality links pointed to your site (it’s cheap enough to do). Google may then view that as an attempt on your part to manipulate ranking and bango – send you to Google hell.
The potential for this to happen has always been there. It’s not something I’ve talked about publicly for obvious reasons. Negative SEO has become cheaper to do and combined with changes in Google’s focus, it has brought it to the forefront.
Whether negative SEO is actually taking out a sites, outside of a few isolated incidents, is being hotly debated.
Links, links, links and more links – after over a decade in this industry it all gets a little tiring.
Duane Forrester, who runs the public outreach side of the Webmaster program for Bing, has suggested our obsession with links *today* may be a little over the top.
“Links. Just a single signal. So what are you doing to work with the other signals?”
He reminds us of the basics of on-page (and legitimate) SEO.
I’ve seen some very high ranking sites that are not major brands that have bugger all in the way of inbound links and no apparent shady stuff going on. It’s quite fascinating. It could be considered blind luck, but these sites have maintained their positions for a long while – and in competitive sectors. Domain age may play a role, but as with links, this is just a single signal.
All very good food for thought – SEO is changing, and for those of us who have been in the game for years, we need to change with the search engines. Whether we like it or not; they are the masters of our destiny (from an SEO viewpoint anyway).
We can bitch and whinge all we like about changes – and the whining can be useful in flagging issues with the search engine powers-that-be – but they are what they are. If we can’t accept that and adapt, it’s time to get out of the game.