Late last week, it was discovered that Google had quietly updated their ranking article help document to reflect changes that they have made in their messages of late. The change was spotted by internet marketer, Erik Baeumlisberger, and suggests that building quality websites is actually more important than building quality links, which is actually contrary to Google’s past messages, which have stated that links are important to your ranking.
Barry Swartz of Search Engine Roundtable said that the “change is to keep Google consistent with their general change in messaging that content is what webmasters should focus on, not links”. This means that it is more about increasing the number of people who will want to use and share your content, which will actually help to build quality links in the long run; the webmaster’s focus, however, should be on the content.
But what was the actual change that Google made to their article? It originally read: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.” As of the 27th of May, however, this part of the article was changed to read: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
This is not to say, however, that links are not important to your ranking and that being social is actually more essential (as this is how users will share links to your content). Being social is currently not important at all, but many people believe that this will change in the future as more and more people share links and content. Instead, what has changed is the way that webmasters should think about their content, as it will not be shared if it is not interesting or engaging.