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Ask HN: Are backlinks so important to rank first in Google results?
5 points by tuyguntn 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 8 comments
Sitting in a meeting with marketers, hearing only about back links, guest posts, outreach and so on. Basically everyone is trying to get a back link at any cost, to promote their product. At first it seemed like if you have more links you have valuable information. Now if you have more links, you are just good at working hard and/or cheating. Thanks Google and Marketers for making information more junk everyday. You guys already ruined Quora with pseudo-helpful answer just to get a back link.

Doesn't it ruin whole idea of finding information? I feel like bunch of people found a way how to hack Google ranking and trying to out compete each other by cheating. Google doesn't care because they are making money out of it.

I empathize a lot and I hate that a small handful of companies like Google and Facebook have become the not just the gateway to the internet, but the internet it self for many people.

That said, any measure that Google sets for "quality" will be gamed over time and that is likely part of their motivation to constantly adjust how things are measured.

When keywords were important, people used to stuff them. When back links became important, people would buy them. Then back links from spammy domains become a negative thing and people would black hat them. With the rise of domain authority back links from EDUs have become gold.

It seems stupid to me that an EDU link to a "fly fishing blog" could be some sort of powerful signal, but that is just where we are today. As Google improves semantics perhaps they will be able to more properly direct users to quality articles without back links as signals, or more likely they will just continue to evolve into a omnipotent Wolfram Alpha answer engine.

Yes, backlinks were the thing that made Google what it is today, their first and most famous ranking algo was all about backlinks[0].

Find "a way to hack Google ranking" is a multi billion dollar industry called SEO. Sadly, an industry gone too far[1].

Because of this, finding and discovering good, high-quality information on Internet is still a big problem unsolved to date. And it's getting worse day by day because, at the same time, more and more people are playing that SEO game flooding the web with low-quality, almost nonsense, junk content.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22792243

> Sitting in a meeting with marketers, hearing only about back links, guest posts, outreach and so on. Basically everyone is trying to get a back link at any cost, to promote their product.

Quality backlinks are more important than hundreds of low quality ones.

Well yes, and you've just stumbled upon what has driven history of the Internet post-2009. It's a huge contributing factor to the centralization of the Internet.

Backlinks have meaning but it defiantly isn't the only factor these days. In fact, I have pages on Google's top 10 that don't have a single backlinks. Here are a few things that matter:

1. How competitive is the keyword you are after. If you are targeting "long-tail" keywords - you should rank faster.


2. The writer's Expertise in the domain (i.e. an MD will have better chances to rank in relevant medical search queries.

3. Authoritativeness is about the writers and the website’s reputations. If the writer and/or website have good reputations and have backlinks from relevant high-quality websites, they have authority.

4. The writer's and website's Trustworthiness - We trust the things we see. If there is no about page or no information about the writer, they are less trustworthy. If the content itself doesn’t include links to relevant sources, we tend not to trust it.

You can read more about E-A-T here - https://www.spectroomz.com/seo-eat-checker

5. User intent - does your article answer users' real intent? Type a certain search query on Google and see that the results are different than the exact keyword you entered. They have additions. These additions in the results are users real intent. Google knows where users who entered search query X ended their search and return those results eventually, even if they include additional keywords and are different from your original query.

6. Does your article have relevant outgoing links? Do you link to reliable sources?

7. Are the backlinks you get from reliable RELEVANT websites?

8. Is your content long-form or short form?

9. How people interact with your page - do they end the search there (great) or move to other sites? What's your bounce rate like? How is your CTR?

10. Is your search query YMYL related (Your Money Your Life)? If you'd want to rank for the "Covid Symptoms" phrase because you want to sell masks on your new Shopify store, I wouldn't bet on you getting to Google first page. This search query is "your life" related and Google gives significant emphasise on the site's reliability regardless of how many backlinks you have. You'd see MayoClinic there, WebMD, .Gov, Healthline and more.

There are many more factors, but I can tell you that while RELEVANT backlinks are important, especially from authoritative sites, it's not the only factor and I even don't treat it as the main factor.

Hope that helps!

The question is, if not by backlinks how do you algorithmically judge and rank search results?

By ease of use, how long users stay in website and come back to click other link, people sentiment on internet about website (this is not a 100% solution, as we have already seen with counterfeit product ratings in Amazon), but excessive backlinks post 2010 era should signal that something is not going well here.

I know some agencies reached us to help with SEO and they were proud to show us that they ranked 1st in some keywords and submitted their reports how they achieved, you would be surprised, they literally created 100s of single page websites/presentations in wix, weebly, canva and many other websites to create single backlink, now google thinks they should be ranked 1st. A lot of SEO people seems doing this, and only excuse is, others are doing that as well.

Human content curation/ranking?

I have no much hope for algos, nor for AI. People will find ways to hack and fool them forever.

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