Google's Mueller Predicts Future Strength Of Backlinks As A Ranking Factor

Google Search Advocate John Mueller predicted the strength of backlinks as a ranking factor during a BrightonSEO session in which a group discussed a few fascinating topics.

The topics ranged from schema code to backlinks to optimizing pages -- all from pre-vetted questions at a live event for a recording of the Search Off The Record podcast.

During the live session, Mueller made a prediction based on a question about backlinks in which he predicted the future of the tool. 

The questions were addressed as a group discussion. Google fellow Lizzi Sassman and guest Myriam Jessier joined Mueller.

SEOs are interested in securing backlinks. Most online publishers receive dozens of requests weekly. One person asked a question focused on how working on backlinks often becomes a gray area in terms of link schemes -- wanting to know what Google’s main criteria are for penalizing backlinks.

This question was not really answered. Instead, Mueller said, jokingly, “algorithmic,” before admitting that it could become less critical in the future as Google becomes better at understanding how content fits with the query and the rest of the web. The algorithm will not need to rely as much on inbound links.



“I imagine over time the weight on the links will drop off a little as we figure out a little better on how the content fits in,” he said. “Links will always be something we care about, because we need to find pages somehow. How do you find a page on the web without some reference? My guess is over time it won’t be such a big factor that it has been.”

The group also mused about what the “above the fold” position will look like in 20 years. No one had a clear answer. They did all agree that technology moves rapidly and will evolve, as will the fold.

“Even today, I find myself making cocktails in my kitchen and ask Google Home to tell me the next step of the recipe,” Jessier said. “It will focus on the way people consume content.

Will the fold disappear? “The tricky part for us,” Mueller said, “is what type of information will the search console display and how will it display it. Maybe something like two-dimensional rankings. Or a three-dimensional graph of the three-dimensional material.”

Other topics discussed include schema code to optimize pages, templated content, and more.

The next podcast topic will focus on redirects. 

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