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The perception that this creates is that link building is either not important, not necessary, or not a place where webmasters should focus their efforts. The premise that readers need to remember is that Google is suggesting that great content will be recognized, shared, and people will link to it. They are suggesting that you focus on content and creating a social presence to share the content – but this is largely just because this is what helps webmasters to earn natural incoming links.
So does this mean that links are not important anymore? No, not even close. Links are still extremely important and all that Google is doing is suggesting different ways to earn those links or at least build a website that is capable of earning links naturally. It would be a huge mistake to say that backlinks don’t matter anymore.
Google’s Matt Cutts recently answered a webmaster email through the official Webmaster Help Youtube channel. The user asked if Google had ever experimented with versions of their ranking algorithms that do not include backlinks at all as a ranking factor. The answer was not surprising, but very significant in terms of identifying the relative importance of backlinks in ranking algorithms.
Question: Does the big G have a version of the search engine that totally excludes any backlink relevance? I’m wondering what search would look like and am curious to try it out.
Answer: So we don’t have a version like that that is exposed to the public, but we have run experiments like internally and the quality looks much, much worse. It turns out that backlinks, even though there is some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really, really big win in terms of quality for search results. So we have played around with the idea of turning off backlink relevance and at least for now, backlink relevance still really helps in terms of making sure that we return the best, most relevant, most topical set of search results.