Backlinks as a ranking factor is fighting hard to keep its value in the overall ranking algorithm of Google. User engagement factors like social shares and comments are giving a hard fight to it. Although, Matt Cutts clearly indicated in a recent video that Google is not ready to drop the link factor from its search ranking algorithm at least for now! But, there are strong indications that Google is constantly testing results without counting backlinks as a ranking factor. As a smart inbound marketer, it is time to be prepared for the day when user engagement on the resource will hold a greater value as compared to the backlinks. This may sound strange to some but certainly we are fast moving towards a web that rests more on user engagement.
Increased Importance on Social Value of a Webpage
Social value of any resource is receiving a greater attention from Google's algorithm simply because it is an accurate measure of a content loved by its users. Backlinks were included in the ranking algorithm because it helped Google correctly analyze the value of a relevant resource and now the same can be analyzed with the help of social shares. But, Google can't ignore the value of backlinks completely. The algorithms needs to be sophistically designed in order to tackle the relevancy of social shares and comments.
Here are some tutorials that will discuss more on the increased importance of social value and how you can plan your strategy accordingly:
How Positive Comments in Content Can Increase Google Rankings
Reputation and Branding- 2 Important Building Blocks for SEO
Author Rank is the New Page Rank
Social Branding Case Study
Increase User Engagement Using Data Hub Activity Report
What is Engagement Rank?
Social Signals and Seo
How to Make People Tweet About Your Brand?
How to Create Compelling Content That Receives Social Shares