google to devalue linksBy the recent PR crackdown Google has made it quite clear that paid links can harm both the publisher’s and advertiser’s websites. They can negatively impact a site’s PR and ranking in SERP. But the problem is that paid links are not so easy to identify. If done carefully they may remain invisible even to a human being.

So if Google chooses to continue its anti paid link building campaign, it is speculated that it can completely devalue inbound links as the trust building factor using website internal stats (Google Analytics, feedburner, etc) instead. But would this be easy possible to do?

My answer is no. Links are not dead, nor they are dying.

And here are my reasons:

1. Using Google Analytics Traffic Value to measure website popularity. High traffic can be even easier manipulated than incoming links. People had started to buy and sell traffic even before they started to buy and sell links. And superficial traffic (with no actual people landing) requires even less effort – hm, an old story.

2. Using Google Analytics Number of Pages Factor. The obvious formula is like this: the more, the better, e.g. the more pages one visitor looks through, the more he is likely to be interested in and the more valuable the resource appears. Well, not quite that – what if the resource does not require any reading and browsing?

What if it is designed the way that the visitor finds what he is looking for instantly? Isn’t that even better from the user’s perspective, than above? So this factor cannot be used as the measure of the website value (the same refers to the Time On Site, and Bounce Rate, by the way). Googlers themselves confirm, these numbers are too controversial to serve as the website value measurement.

3. Using Number of Subscriptions of Feedburner Stats. Well, this one can really measure the resource value but can only be applied to blogs.

So my verdict here is as follows: Google will continue using incoming links to measure a website value and to filter the search results. Link structure is the Internet essence; to devalue it would mean the whole web revolution. So I would not expect these global changes to happen in the nearest future…

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I am the owner of this blog as well as Brand and Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and Founder of MyBlogGuest, MyBlogU and

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  1. Liam Delahunty says:

    Whilst I agree that fundamentally Google has built its search engine’s SERPs relevancy on calculating pagerank (not the toobar version) from linkage it has many other tools at its disposal to measure a site’s “attention” aside from inbound links.

    If Google only looked at their own tools there are still many other factors that they can consider in their calculations too. The number of unique users with bookmarks in the Google toolbar, the “note this” functionality, click-throughs and mentions of a site’s URLs in (non spam) gmail and other traffic through their servers. If a cookie is stored via analytics they will also know the site’s repeat visitor numbers and many other factors. They can monitor CTR on advertising and SERPs positions and indeed monitor “exit” traffic to AdSense and deduce if a site is specifically MFA.

    Looking outside themselves to social media “hits”, rankings on other search engines, link patterns, footprints, “quality” traffic via services such as hitwise.

    Al of these factors could be considered fairly easily in determining a site’s ranking, and whilst the links remain the highest priority for offsite SEO, I feel these other factors will become more important over time as Google try to combat what they see as a problem with paid linking.

  2. Thank you, Liam, for your detailed response. And I fully agree with you. Google has a plenty of powerful and popular tools to look into when evaluating the website. But I think to totally switch to a completely new algorithm, it will take much more time. Besides, all these factors can also be contradictory.

  3. It’s hard to imagine that any such changes would happen quickly. Until a method is developed to measure actual relevance pagerank is surely going to remain a major factor.

    As you pointed out stealthy paid links are probably almost impossible to detect, so in the long run G may be exacerbating the problem by smacking down the TBPR of sites which blatantly sell links.

    An effective option might have been to adjust the actual PR and leave the tool bar rank alone, and leave all of the effected parties wondering why they were dropping down the SERPs.

    Instead, it seems likely that the link trade will be driven underground where it will be very hard to detect.

  4. @David LaFerney: leaving webmasters wondering about their rankings would be a solution definitely. I always said that SEs shouldn’t be too open about their algorithms. The only alerting thing is that with it, smaller webmasters would be suffering more as we, SEOs, (and thus larger companies that can afford us) will figure out the algorithm any way – we have the opportunity to experiment, test and compare, moreover we have knowledge. I guess Google’s openness (aka “have other sites link to yours” and you’ll be on top) that brought us to the anti-paid links war was actually meant to help ‘regular’ smaller webmasters…

  5. I guess Google’s openness (aka “have other sites link to yours” and you’ll be on top) that brought us to the anti-paid links war was actually meant to help ‘regular’ smaller webmasters…

    I’m sure it was, just as the toolbar widget was, but I doubt if they envisioned the effect that it would have on SEO practices.

    Actually, I imagine that the intent of almost every helpful action that Google takes is to help us help Google.

    But that’s just business.

  6. Bill Simcox says:

    Frightened me to death.

    I’m working like crazy to get inbound links, but thankfully, they are still OK.

    Thanks for the post


  7. Jacob maslow says:

    There is absolutely nothing that can be done off site to negatively impact your serp results. On site things like cloaking , link schemes etc can impact you.

    I just bought a domain. Nothing I do will impact my competitors site. Site owners have no control who does or doesn’t link to them.

    Sites that sell links may have some free ones mixed in. They also generally don’t check if the person buying links have full authority internally.

    When I managed seo for one company, we had lots of lousy links that we never solicited. Companies are free to link to whomever they want for whatever motives they choose.

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