Are Backlinks The Most Important Factor In Google Rankings? Depends On Who You Ask

    June 15, 2004

How do search engines evaluate relevancy when ranking search results? Do they concentrate on optimized content, or do they value contextual backlinks more? Do they place more importance for on page content (optimized web copy)? Or do they emphasize off page, anchored links pointing to the site in question?

Discuss Keyword Google Backlinking in WebProWorld.

Your Ace in the Hole: Knowing how Google REALLY Ranks...
Your Ace in the Hole: Knowing how Google REALLY Ranks…

According to a thread on the SearchEngineWatch discussion forum, Yahoo appears to put more value on page content, while Google seems to place their emphasis on backlinking. This, of course, is not the golden rule. In less competitive areas, optimized content alone can garner high rankings.

While the various link-oriented Googlebombs show the importance Google places on contextual backlinks, according to David Wallace, a moderator at SEW’s forum, it’s good practice to use a combination of both optimized content and relevant backlinks in order to achieve and maintain a high SERP ranking.

However, even David admits to having cases where these methods work effectively by themselves:

“I have a client that does not have any incoming links but a ton of great content who ranks tops for all their search terms. Why? Because they are not in that competitive of an industry and while there are others companies that do the same thing they do, they must not be marketing that aggressively on the web yet.”

“I also have some sites ranking well due to external links and anchor text in which they do not heavily reflect the keywords they are ranking well for on the site itself.”

The discussion about which method works the best is an argument seemingly as old as SEO. The most logical approach would be a combination of the two. Ensuring the content is relevant, as well as a good number of contextual backlinks, appears to be the most effective method of optimization for search engines.

A poster named “pleeker” has another point of view concerning Google and Yahoo. Pleeker indicates, “the big difference between G(oogle) and Y(ahoo) is the importance of inbound links and the anchor text of those links. Like you, I have sites with few inbound links ranking very well in Y and nowhere in G. On-page factors seem to be more important in Y than G.”

These threads indicate that Yahoo places more value on page content, whereas Google, while rewarding optimized content, places more emphasis on anchored backlinks. There are many other examples of SEO savvy posters who argue both points, however, a consensus concerning the value Google places on backlinks is apparent.

While SEO professionals may differ on which method, content or link building, is most effective, most of them agree on this: don’t optimize your site solely for the search engines optimize for visitors.

To read more on backlinking, please click here.

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.