Google's Perspective: The Impact of Overemphasis on Links

Google's Perspective: The Impact of Overemphasis on Links

A perspective shared by Google's John Mueller on the potential pitfalls of putting too much focus on links. Discover why 'over-focusing' on links may lead to wasted time and detract from improving the overall quality of your website.

Backlink Checkers Prioritize Their Crawls Differently

John Mueller from Google recently shared on Reddit that putting too much emphasis on backlinks may not always be the most effective strategy. This aligns with Google's recent trend of downplaying the importance of links in SEO.

The person asking the question was curious about why backlink checkers display different backlinks for a specific site, especially one that was considered "relatively new" but already fully indexed.

Backlink checkers do not handpick which sites and backlinks to show. Instead, they scan the internet and build a network of link connections between different websites. These tools also have to prioritize what they scan as the internet is vast, meaning not all websites are scanned, let alone included in their database.

This is what was asked:

“I have a couple backlinks on google search console on the “external links” page and I know recently I have gotten a few more.

It seems that I have no backlinks according to Ahrefs. My website is new, but I believe that shouldn't be an issue since everything is indexed and functioning correctly. Is there a specific reason for this? Ahrefs might not be capturing all the links accurately.

Mueller explained that counting links is not a straightforward task because there is no definitive method to do so. This may be because each tool must decide what to crawl and add to its index.

Importance of Website Links

Counting links on the web is not an exact science. Each tool gathers its own data by crawling websites in its own unique way. This means that there will always be variations in the number of links reported by different tools.

Mueller’s answer first addressed not focusing on link counts and that search engines are able to discover webpages in ways other than links.

He answered:

I suggest not placing too much emphasis on the total number of links. Search engines have various methods to find websites, including through the use of sitemaps.

Mueller shared his thoughts on the importance of websites today. He believes that putting too much emphasis on links can be a waste of time. Instead, focusing on other aspects can improve your website's overall quality.

It’s pretty clear that he’s not talking about backlink counts anymore. He’s talking about links.

Google has been suggesting that the importance of links has decreased in the last six months. This was evident in four changes made to their documentation, where they removed the word "important" in a sentence regarding links as a ranking factor. Everything else in the sentence remained unchanged, with only the word "important" being omitted.

Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages.”


Google uses links as a factor in determining the relevancy of web pages.

Read about March 2024 changes to links: Google March 2024 Core Update: 4 Changes To Link Signal

At PubCon Austin last fall, Gary Illyes, a Googler, mentioned that links are not among the top 3 ranking factors.

Two years ago, John Mueller hinted that the importance of links in ranking was expected to decrease.

He mentioned that over time, the weight on the links may decrease as they gain a better understanding of how the content fits within the entire web.

Read the Reddit discussion:

Why are my backlinks not showing up?

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero

Editor's P/S:

The article highlights the ongoing shift in Google's approach to backlinks, with John Mueller emphasizing the importance of focusing on other aspects of website quality rather than link counts. While backlinks remain a factor, Google's recent updates and statements indicate a reduced reliance on them for ranking. This aligns with the view that search engines have evolved and can discover web pages through various means, not just links.

It's crucial to understand that backlink checkers prioritize their crawls differently, leading to variations in the backlinks they report. This is influenced by factors such as the size of their index and the crawling strategies they employ. Therefore, it's important to consider multiple tools and not rely solely on one source for backlink data. Additionally, Google's de-emphasis on backlinks suggests that website owners should focus on creating valuable content, optimizing for user experience, and building a strong overall website presence rather than solely concentrating on acquiring links.