Stone Temple Consulting, acquired by Perficient in July 2018, released a study Thursday that analyzes the importance of links to ranking in Google search results.
The methodology for this study, which also looks at different market segments, is quite complex. The author, Eric Enge, outlines the steps throughout.
This is the fourth “Links as a Ranking Factor” study. In this study, analysts increased the number of queries to 27,000 examined over time, but each data set includes the original query sets from the earlier study.
The 2019 version shows a strong correlation between links and the ranking position in Google search. It notes the importance of building content, so other sites will link to a page. Without links it is difficult to rank high for competitive keywords in Google.
Relevance and content quality are major factors in ranking. “If a web page is not relevant to a query, it shouldn’t rank,” Enge wrote in the report.
And while that is obvious, he provides an example based on 10 pieces of content that will likely rank for a query. He does this by measuring relevance and quality. Then he gives it a Link Score. He also uses a Quadratic Mean Spearman Correlation Score, which is explained in the findings.
Enge, in the study, calls it a way to simplify Google’s Algorithm. Each measurement shifts the ranking just a bit more.
The study also details Google’s progress in fighting link spam and why links are still a valuable signal, rather than social media signals and user engagement signals.
There are three more points to consider, he writes. Implementing links require an investment. When linking to another site the author makes a public endorsement by identifying the brand with the web page to which the content links.
The most important factor to consider, when a marketer implements a website page link, is the likelihood that people will click on it and leave the site. “In fact,” he writes, “you’re inviting them to do so.”