SEO News You Can Use: Links Not a Top-Three Ranking Factor Anymore – Google Expert

SEO News You Can Use: New Updates to Chrome FLEDGE

Remember when Google said that links were a top-three ranking factor in 2016? Well, that’s no longer the case, according to Search Analyst Gary Illyes. 

“I think they are important, but I think people overestimate the importance of links. I don’t agree it’s in the top three. It hasn’t been for some time,” said Illyes in an AMA at Pubcon Pro on September 21, 2023.

This has been the stance of Google for some time now. In November 2022, Duy Nguyen, a member of Google’s Search Quality team, said “backlinks as a signal has a lot less significant impact” than before.

In a November Search Off The Record podcast episode, Search Advocate John Mueller said “future links might be weighted less in the overall Google Search ranking algorithm.”

All these statements point to one thing: links are not as important today as they were in 2016. In fact, Illyes said that “it is possible to rank without links” if you have extremely good content and a sitemap that makes it easier to get discovered.

So, does this mean links are a thing of the past? Absolutely not.

While links are not in the top three, it’s still a ranking signal. But since Google’s algorithms have evolved so much and become more intelligent with hundreds of signals to weigh, it’s easy to see why links don’t hold that much prominence anymore.

To understand Google’s way of ranking content, you have to keep track of its core updates and read its search engine optimization (SEO) help documents covering topic authority and more.

Here are some helpful resources from Google to get you started:

  • SEO Starter Guide: A go-to resource for SEO professionals and website owners of all experience levels. Google constantly updates this guide to include the latest best practices to rank your content better.
  • Google Search Central: This resource database contains everything you need “to improve the SEO of your website.”
  • Google Search Console: This collection of tools provides insight into your website’s performance in the Google search engine results (SERPs). Search Console gives us a glimpse into metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to Google’s ranking algorithms.

These guidelines also highlight that you should think about the bigger picture instead of hyper-focusing on one aspect of SEO. This way, you’ll ensure that you’re ranking high in Google regardless of what algorithm update they put out in the future.

More SEO News You Can Use

You Can Now Block Bard and Vertex AI From Accessing Your Content: Web publishers who don’t want their content crawled for generative artificial intelligence (AI) can now breathe a sigh of relief. In a blog published on September 28, 2023, the search engine company introduced Google-Extended. According to Google, this is “a new control that web publishers can use to manage whether their sites help improve Bard and Vertex AI generative APIs, including future generations of models that power those products.” Like other crawlers, Google-Extended can be controlled through the robots.txt file. This move comes after OpenAI introduced GPTBot to avoid privacy and copyright issues. To dive deeper into this story, read Search Engine Land’s article.

Google Launches Generative AI Courses: If you’re looking to upskill on generative AI, Google now provides two options for you – Beginner and Advanced. The tech company now offers these two “learning paths” under its trainings and certifications section. In collaboration with DeepLearning.AI, you can choose between the free “Introduction to Generative AI” course for beginners or the paid “Generative AI for Developers,” which is the advanced path built for developers, engineers and data scientists. According to Google, these courses and labs will “help you learn about the power of generative AI,” no matter your skill level. Learn more about Google’s generative AI courses from the company’s Google Cloud blog.

Google-Backed Anthropic Gets Another Boost From Amazon: It’s only a few months after Anthropic got a $300 million investment from Google, but the AI company gets another boost as retail giant Amazon is injecting $4 billion as an investment. “Amazon will take a minority stake in Anthropic” without changing their governance structure, according to Anthropic. So, what does this mean? Amazon’s AWS service will become Anthropic’s primary cloud provider. Also, Amazon’s developers and engineers will gain access to Anthropic’s AI capabilities through Amazon Bedrock, allowing the retail company to fine-tune customer experiences while still adhering to responsible AI practices. We’ve seen Amazon take a more decisive pivot to AI in the past few months. We’ve actually covered some of them herehere and here. Check out Anthropic’s announcement to know more about the deal.

ChatGPT Browse Goes Back Online: You’ll no longer be confined to a limited and outdated training set since OpenAI brought back ChatGPT’s browsing capability on September 28, 2023. “Browsing is particularly useful for tasks that require up-to-date information,” such as more in-depth research or planning a getaway, OpenAI said.. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Browsing in ChatGPT since the company released this feature last May 2023. However, the company was embroiled in issues concerning paywalled content, resulting in a temporary disabling of the feature. After introducing GPTBot, it only makes sense for Browsing to make a comeback. While this is only available for Plus and Enterprise users now, OpenAI promises to expand the feature “to all users soon.” Read the full discussion on X here.

Bing Chat Rolls Out “Personalized Answers”: Along with its announcement of Microsoft Copilot, the company also announced personalized answers by customizing its replies based on your chat history. You can also turn off this feature if you don’t like Bing Chat to provide personalized answers. Bing also unveiled new features, such as the DALL-E 3 integration and bringing multimodal visual search to Bing Chat Enterprise. Read this announcement from Microsoft for more information.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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