Will backlinks eventually become redundant and be replaced by dark metrics?


  • I believe links will eventually become redundant
  • Google wants site owners to focus on user experience, quality and engagement
  • Dark metrics are performance indicators that we may not be able to see that will directly influence how a site will perform in search


Matt:                     Well, I think, yeah, what we’re seeing with algorithm updates and yeah, just even some of the industry bloggers n that, I’m thinking, yeah, five, six years ago everybody used to just talk about getting links, links, links, links. More and more, it’s all about content and content marketing and that’s where I spend more of my time now, sort of building out, yeah, good, relevant, topical content. And for me, it just works so well. You find new areas of growth. Yeah. You can still competitor’s traffic if you weren’t getting it before. And you just build a better website. It’s a better experience, so I really find that that’s probably one of the …

John:                     I still think links have impact and what you said then, Matt is absolutely true and that’s still true for a lot of people that are running around the internet saying, “Fucking links.” But I’m certainly seeing a shift in the amount of weight that links actually carry these days. I’m not sure what you or other people in the group are seeing. But going back five or seven years ago, you’d build a handful of links at a page and that fucking thing would move up. And it was pretty obvious that there was some sort of relationship between taking this action and seeing this outcome. But I’m seeing less and less of that. And we can either look back at this video and say, “John was right” or “John was way off the mark,” but I think eventually and probably within the next five to seven years, possibly sooner, that Google will eventually come out and say links don’t matter anymore.

John:                     And I think that’s probably true. That will probably be the case because there’ll be getting smarter about the metrics that they’re looking at. And I think a lot of those metrics, and I had this conversation with John a couple of weeks ago, they’ll be using what I call dark metrics that you can’t see. It’s shit that we don’t know about. I think there’s some understanding of what some of those might be now, like engagement times and conversions, bounce rates, where the traffic is coming from, brand searches, return visits. There’s a lot of metrics in there that I think will become incredibly difficult for people to be able to manipulate. And I would not be surprised if that eventually Google will come out and say links don’t matter anymore and you watch – everyone will be running around in a mad panic saying, “You’ve got to create good content.”

John:                     So you may as well just space off the fucking drama and just focus on that. And the other thing that I will say, Matt, is that unlike links when it comes to site restructuring on-page and content, you’ve got so much more control over that shit. Right?

Matt:                     Yeah.

John:                     It’s just you’ve got more control over it rather than, “Oh, can we get a link from this site?” And the amount of effort it can take sometimes to just get a high quality link. It can take fucking weeks of back and forth and everything else.

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