The changing face of SEO – devaluation of links

Posted on July 16, 2009

 

Yesterday we wrote about the last ‘big’ Google update, called the ‘Brand Update’, where larger name companies suddenly started achieving higher rankings in Google, often at the cost of better SEO’d websites with more links.

There has been a lot of press about this lately as many websites who have enjoyed healthy Google rankings in the SERPs for years have been dropping out, and SEO professionals have been routing around trying to find the cause.

In many cases however, the cause of the drop in rankings is the very same reason that the websites achieved the rankings in the first place, and this is something that a lot of SEO companies are not going to want to hear. Their SEO efforts are the very reason that their client’s no longer rank for their desired search terms, despite having a very aggressive on-page SEO strategy. The problem, or rather the main problem, lies with the links.

Google has long since preached that paid links are against its terms and conditions, and even has a facility for website owners to report paid links if they see them (a practice that many SEO professionals have made use of when trying to lower the rankings of their client’s competitors, the irony completely lost on them).

Of course despite the warnings from Google, paid links still played a part in many SEO strategies, largely because they worked. That is beginning to change now, and the value of having thousands of links to your website, all coming from irrelevant websites hosted in Eastern Europe has dropped considerably.

While this isn’t a penalty for the sites who have bought the links as such, it is a case of the links being devalued, so their impact is reduced. Where once those links were enough to guarantee high listings in the SERPs, they are now a way to guarantee that your site is easy to detect as a website that has paid for links.

The links to your website are your referrers. What do your links say about you?

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  • Personally I think they are changing the emphasis on the types of inbound links. Paid for links and directory listings will decrease in value – as anyone can get these.

    Inbound links from blogs, review, forums and recommendations I think will carry a heavier weighting – as that’s part of the overall update which is part of the overall strategy as building your brand as an authority on your niche.

  • JohnGWise says:

    Good post.

    One thing I would like to ask…you say..

    “paid links still played a part in many SEO strategies, largely because they worked. That is beginning to change now”

    I would disagree, if paid links are from quality and relevant sites they will still work? From your article you rightly infer that most paid links are spammy, irrelevant sites and for sure these will not work well in the future, especially for competitive phrases.

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