Google predicts strength of backlinks as a ranking factor to drop over time

Organic Search
-

About This Result – Links always likely to benefit your website

Steve Bailey, Spike’s Head of SEO Training takes a closer look at backlinks, following the recent comments by Google Search Advocate, John Mueller, who suggested that the strength of backlinks, as a ranking factor will drop over time.

John Mueller recently stated; “Well, it’s something where I imagine, over time, the weight on the links at some point will drop off a little bit as we can figure out a little bit better how the content fits in within the context of the whole web.”

Steve explores what backlinks could still have potential value, and examines the About Us feature within Google and their importance in establishing an external trust factor.

John’s comments that he imagines the influence of links as a ranking factor will begin to drop off and this is of no real surprise. Using links as a ranking factor has been problematic for many years.

But there are links and external sources that are very likely to remain very influential in a sites rankings and one place you can find them is in the ‘about this result’ SERPs feature.

The three dots opens up a short account of the result but clicking ‘More about this page’ at the bottom of the pop-up leads to a selection of external sites talking about and linking to the website in question.

These links have been chosen by Google as reliable ‘Web results about the source’, and if Google thinks they are worth highlighting to the end user then we can have some confidence that going forwards these results will also maintain at least some influence on rankings over and above other linking sites.

The majority of the ‘Web results about the source’ come from review sites such as Trustpilot.

Trustpilot appeared in 90% of the profiles that we have looked at, whilst this may drop off for smaller brands the significance of good, external reviews is clear. 50% of sites also had a listing from reviews.io.

70% of sites had a Wikipedia entry listed by Google. Again this figure may drop off when looking at smaller brands, as it can be difficult to be listed on Wikipedia.

Perhaps of more interest to niche sites, especially those offering B2B services is the inclusion of various associations/organisations within their sector.

Relationship building within your community/sector has always been something that Google has promoted. Links from various governing bodies and associations have great trust and authority value, even if those sites themselves do not have the so-called powerful domain authority metrics of other sites.

For example, Google lists the Manufacturers of Equipment for Heat Networks Association for the site VitalEnergi: (https://www.mehna.org.uk/our-members/vital-energi-utilities-ltd).

It understands the connection, its relevance, and importantly the trust associated with being listed on MEHNA and as a result includes this listing within the ‘About this result’ content.

The view from Spike

If any links are likely to keep their value it will be these and those from third-party review sites. So in short, look at what Google lists in their ‘About this result’ feature for your site and your competitors and consider what you may be missing.