Google is Turning 20, and Backlinks are Still the #1 Most Important Ranking Factor
It’s hard to believe that this September, Google celebrated its 20th anniversary. From humble beginnings in a Menlo Park garage, Google has become a giant with over 60,000 employees in 50 countries and has created hundreds of products.
Backlink Signals Made Google Unique
Google’s success started with its simple, user-focused search engine that indexed and displayed relevant web pages to users. In 1998, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin understood the fundamental infrastructure of the World Wide Web – hyperlinking – and based its algorithm heavily on incoming links to associate relevancy. Today, Google maintains its hold on 90% market share with available search engines worldwide.
Google Updates and External Link Signals
In the early days of Google, webmasters took advantage of Google’s bias towards link building by over-optimizing anchor text and leveraging low-quality link networks. This allowed low-quality pages to rank quickly. Even large companies caught on to this technique and made big profits.
J.C. Penney, for example, was famously penalized in 2011 for using keyword-rich link building tactics to game results, generating millions in revenue during the process. As a result, Google has subsequently made dozens of additional updates to its algorithm to combat Webspam and has become very effective at ranking only the most relevant, merit-based content.
Google Ranking Factors
What’s important to note is that even though Google now considers over 200 ranking factors – including semantic keyword relevance, user-engagement metrics, RankBrain and machine learning technology – its search engine still relies heavily on link authority as an important factor.
How to Rank Well in Google, Using Backlinks, in 2018 and Beyond
So, how do you rank well in Google in 2018 and beyond? John Mueller, the
What is awesomeness? Ultimately, John Mueller says awesomeness the as share-worthy (aka link-worthy) content that users are seeking out. In its most recent Search Engine Ranking Factors Survey, Moz listed the following ranking factors, in order from most to least influential:
- Domain-Level, Link Authority Features (backlinks)
- Page-Level Link Metrics
- Page-Level Keyword & Content-Based Metrics
- Page-Level, Keyword-Agnostic Features
- User Usage & Traffic/Query Data
- Domain Level Brand Metrics
- Domain Level Keyword Usage
- Domain-Level, Keyword-Agnostic Features
- Page-Level Social Metrics
Link authority and page-level link metrics can be defined as incoming link signals, as a measure of link worthy, validated content from authoritative link sources.
An Example of Awesomeness
Looking back, it’s not hard to see why Google has grown so rapidly in the past 20 years. The World Wide Web is now trillions of pages large and there are over 4 Billion internet users worldwide. Google has made it easy to quickly find the best content – the through backlink signals.
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