How important are backlinks for SEO and are they becoming a diminishing ranking factor for Google?
Recently, Gary Illyes, an Analyst on the Google Search team and one of the best sources of insider Google information, suggested SEOs may be overestimating the importance of backlinks by saying that he no longer believes that they are a top 3 ranking signal.
Unsurprisingly, Illyes’ comments lit up conversation in the search community about the true weighting of backlinks (and other factors) in Google’s search ranking algorithm.
We figured this was an opportune time to scour the webs for comments from Google’s present (and past) search advocates on the topic of backlinks.
We scoured the web to find the latest comments on Backlinks from Google’s most well-known voices of SEO to get a better sense of just how important backlinks are for SEO in 2023.
Keep in mind that these comments and quotes have been taken from different points in time (cited under each quote) but provide some context on the role of backlinks according to some of Google’s most important SEO sources.
• All sources used for this article said that the value of backlinks is lower than in the past.
• John Mueller believes that the weighting of backlinks in SEO will continue to drop as Google search continues to evolve.
• Gary Illyes says that links are no longer a top 3 SEO ranking factor and have not been for some time.
• Duy Nguyen says the significance of Backlinks in SEO rankings has fallen dramatically in recent years.
• Kaspar Szymanski suggests more potential for growth if we focus on the technical aspects: the content, the unique selling proposition, and the performance of landing pages.
• Earning high-quality, natural backlinks is still an important ranking factor – likely still in the top 5 most important factors.
How important are backlinks for SEO in 2023?
According to Google’s inside sources that were quoted in this article, Backlinks continue to be an important ranking factor, however, they are a much less significant ranking factor than they were in the past.
These comments are a good reminder that the SEO ranking factors are always in flux.
Across all of these sources and comments, the messaging is consistent – backlinks are less of a ranking factor in 2023 than in years gone by.
Gary Illyes makes the most direct assertion in saying that backlinks are no longer considered a top 3 ranking factor for Google and have not been for some time.
So then, does that mean that backlinks are no longer important for SEO? Absolutely not – not at this stage any way.
Based on the latest intel, we know that Google still uses backlinks to determine website relevancy and trust with links still providing a boost to high-quality content. However, the takeaway for those investing in SEO as a long-term strategy needs to be that links are no longer the magic bullet they once were.
Instead, they are a positive by-product of good quality content that can help to boost rankings and cut through the noise in competitive verticals.