Matt Cutts recently released a video discussing how Google differentiates between authority and popularity. As you probably know, Google’s latest algorithmic change threw many a SEO “expert” for a loop when poor back links not only became irrelevant but actually began to penalize site ranking. I’d wager that poor back links are only going to become more prohibitive to search results, for the reasons illustrated by Matt in this video.

How Does Google Define a “Bad Link?”

Google not only attempts to figure out how popular a site is when taking links into account, but how authoritative it is. One of the ways Google has tried to assess a site’s authority in the past is by measuring the number of sites linking to it, but the last round of its changes rendered this method irrelevant, if not prohibitive. And a back link’s criteria for authority is about to get even more stringent. According to Matt, Google is currently working on an algorithmic change that not only takes into account authority of a particular site, but authority by subject matter. For example, a link on a website about puppies that directs to a website about real estate in Bangkok is probably not a good source of information on the subject, and therefore the puppy website isn’t going to be considered an authoritative source, which will negate the value of its link for the real estate company.

How Google Ranks Websites:

Google’s mission statement is, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” (emphasis mine). Any changes that Google makes to its algorithms are made with accessibility and usefulness in mind – and that’s accessibility and usefulness to the user, not to the webmaster. Google’s mission is not to make YOUR site rank #1, its mission is to place the most useful information to a particular searcher at the top of search results.  With that in mind, here’s the top-secret info on how to build good back links. (hint: it’s more common sense than top-secret).

Two Quick Tips on Building Back Links for 2014: 

  • Keep it relevant: as outlined in Matt’s video, a pages’ authority already counts, and is about to matter even more. Don’t waste your efforts just blindly placing links. Strive to get back links on sites that “make sense” for your industry, trade or business.
  • Use anchor text, and use it wisely. Make sure it’s descriptive of whatever you’re linking to, and don’t place a link without using it! According to Matt’s video, it looks like the next round of algorithmic changes will weigh anchor text more heavily, so it’s definitely a great time to begin evaluating your past content and being sure to utilize anchor text wisely going forward!

The Only SEO Tip you will Ever Need:

Remember: no matter what changes Google has made or will make to its algorithms, quality and valuable content will always win out over the latest “SEO tips” Always craft your content with care and set your SEO strategy with purpose and you’ll never be in a panic over algorithm changes!