Google has a help center article in Webmaster Tools specifically about “ranking”. It’s not incredibly informative, and certainly doesn’t walk you through Google’s over 200 signals. It’s just a few sentences of advice, including links to Google’s Webmaster Academy and the “How Google Search Works” page.
Internet marketer Erik Baemlisberger spotted in a change (via Search Engine Land) in what little wording there is, however, and it’s actually somewhat noteworthy.
Google officially changed it's tune on links (who noticed this?) pic.twitter.com/SuVradsQxD
— Erik Baeumlisberger (@Baeumlisberger) June 18, 2013
As you can see, the wording use to be: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
Now, it says, “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
Google has removed he word “link,” presumably to play down the importance of links in its algorithm. This doesn’t mean that links are less important. High quality links are likely still a major signal, but by de-emphasizing the word link (or removing it altogether), Google probably hopes to cut down on people engaging in link schemes and paid links – things Google has been cracking down on more than ever over the past year or so.