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Google’s Magnetic North – Focus On The User

Google is already the world’s biggest brand, according to Interbrand and other specialists around the world, and the globe’s favourite search engine has also been found to receive 90% of all searches.

This is a pretty remarkable achievement for an 18-year-old. Google.com’s domain was first registered on September 15th 1997.

Consider, too, that mobile overtook fixed internet access for web usage in August 2014, according to comScore. It is also worth noting that Google told us in May 2015 that more searches are now happening on mobiles than on computers in ten countries. This is a list which includes the US and Japan.

Put all this together and it creates a pretty amazing picture. So, when one of the company’s top executives answered a question concerning the effectiveness of link-building during a 2015 Google+ live hangout by saying it was probably something best avoided it caused understandable consternation amongst the SEO community.

Of course, the real future of links in SEO has come in for a huge amount of analysis before and since this discussion. But let’s go back to basics for a moment to remind ourselves that one of Google’s fundamental jobs is to find the web’s best and most relevant pages following a user search – and to rank those results based on their quality and authority.

So, any search results generated “inorganically” (i.e. using gained signals of authority and quality which include links) have the potential to meddle with the integrity of Google’s rankings. Therefore, for any senior representative of the company to counsel the avoidance of link-building, or any other tactic deemed capable of interfering with that fundamental goal, is entirely in line with the company’s primary objective.

The company’s main single effort to date to address this issue came via Google Penguin. This is a ranking algorithm that discounts what it recognises as lower quality links or spam. Following the Penguin update, achieving too many links, or acquiring too many links of the same kind, all have the potential to incur an algorithm-driven or a manual Google penalty.

But that isn’t the same thing as saying that link-building SEO is always dangerous, it just needs to be done in the right way and done carefully to achieve results. This, by clear implication, puts the right kind of SEO marketing ever-more into the hands of experts and professionals. Furthermore, the clear practical implication of Penguin is that bad link-building is a dangerous business if you want to achieve good Google rankings. In light of the statistical evidence we’ve already discussed, which commercial enterprise doesn’t want to do that?

However, this doesn’t alter the fact that, until further notice, links remain one of the most important factors in Google’s ranking algorithm. So, ignoring them is not going to help, particularly when your competitors are highly likely to be busy building good quality links.

Further out, however, it will be a question of “watching this space”. But it’s always worth remembering that Google’s fundamentals are all-important for the marketing industry. The company’s “magnetic north” will always take it back to the basics – “focus on the user and all else will follow”.

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