As Google becomes more sophisticated in evaluating content and relevancy, are links to your pages becoming less a priority? We have the data from a massive study. Find out what we found out in our latest entertaining and informative Here’s Why video! (Full transcript and links mentioned below the video)
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- Moz search ranking study
- SearchMetrics ranking study
- Perficient Digital Links as Ranking Factor study
Mark: So Eric, thanks for joining us today. We’re gonna talk about the link study that you’ve published.
Eric: Sounds like a wonderful topic.
Mark: Well, we didn’t have anything else so we might as well go with that.
Eric: Oh yeah, why not?
Mark: Okay so, first of all, I wanted to ask you, why are some people even doubting that links have primacy as an SEO factor anymore?
Eric: Well, there are a lot of reasons.
First of all, it’s clear that Google is introducing more and more kinds of ranking signals that could be lessening the weight of links so that’s one reason. And the other, of course, is that the SERPs themselves are getting more complicated and they have elements in the SERPS like query deserves diversity or local web results or in-depth articles that are taking up some of the real estate and those portions of results probably still include links as a factor but maybe not as much so. So there’s a lot of different reasons that are causing people to think that links might be losing their mojo.
Mark: Okay, well before we get into the results that you found, we’re certainly not the first ones or last ones to be studying links and their effect on SEO. What are some of the other studies out there that you recommend and what have they found?
Eric: Well, there are two studies that are awesome. The correlation studies done by both Moz and SearchMetrics. Groundbreaking research. If you’re serious about SEO, you need to look at these studies. But they evaluate a whole slew of different ranking factors including links. And both of them showed links pretty much as being at the top of the hill but maybe the margin between them and other ranking factors was not that great.
Mark: So without getting too complicated, what was different about your study? How was your approach different from theirs?
Eric: Well, first of all, we focused just on the link side of things. And we didn’t really get into title tags or other factors. That allowed us basically to do some other kinds of analyses. And I actually brought in some heavyweight people to help with the study: Paul Berger from Bentley University, and my brother, Per Enge, from Stanford to get some advice about what the best way to evaluate you know, statist-, I can’t even say it, statistical significance of a particular ranking…
Mark: I’m glad you got to say that not me.
Eric: There you go. Well, my brain was going too fast. And that gave me some insight and some different ways to think about it. And we have to realize that correlation factors aren’t the same as calculating the weight of a signal. Correlation and the actual weight of the signal aren’t the same thing. So correlation is suggestive of a relationship, but it doesn’t define the relationship.
Mark: Okay so here’s the moment. What did you find? Are links still powerful?
Eric: They are really powerful. In fact, in two of our different analyses, we showed a nearly perfect correlation between links and ranking. Keeping in mind that correlation isn’t the same as measuring the actual weight of the ranking factor. But they are still extremely powerful.
We cemented that, by the way, in our write-up of this. We have case studies from a mix of our clients that show us just like clockwork using high-quality content marketing campaigns and driving people from position 18 to number 1 on a query that’s 160,000 searches a month. So it works great. You really need to keep links as a major part of any SEO program that you’re in.
Mark: Thank you, Eric. And that information is so important, you’re going to want to see the complete study that Eric wrote up. Check out the details and share this with everybody you think would benefit from knowing it. And thank you for joining us today and thank you, Eric, for explaining that.
Eric: My pleasure
Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient Digital. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO. Learn More About Eric Enge