Google Confirms That Links Are Now Less Important!

This is the confirmation that many digital marketers have been waiting for. Google has explicitly confirmed that links matter less than ever before in the context of ranking on its search results page. 
During a search marketing conference, Google’s Gary Illyes stated that very few links are required for your pages to be indexed on Google. This adds to previous comments from Google employees and policy changes that have suggested that marketers time is better spent on other SEO activities. 

What Do We Know? 

Following a search conference in Bulgaria, an attendee, Patrick Stox posted a comment from Gary Illyes on the social media platform X, formally known as Twitter. 

“We need very few links to rank pages… Over the years we’ve made links less important.”

Patrick Stox's twitter message about links becoming less important

Gary Illyes went on to confirm that he said those words by replying to Patrick’s tweet: “I shouldn’t have said that… I definitely shouldn’t have said that.
SEO Google announces links are less important than every before.
In 2023 at PubCon Austin, Gary said that links were not even in the top 3 Google ranking factors. This statement was backed up by a Google Spam Policy update in March 2024, when the term ‘important’ was removed from documentation that referenced links as a ranking factor.
If the comments from Gary were not enough, Google’s Search Relations Team Lead and Senior Search Analyst, John Mueller further confirmed this news. 
In April 2024, John answered a link-related question:

“There are more important things for websites nowadays, and over-focusing on links will often result in you wasting your time doing things that don’t make your website better overall.”
The comments of Gary and John, plus the amendments to the spam policy make Google’s guidance on links very clear. As a ranking factor, they are now less important than ever before and marketers should look to focus on other SEO activities in order to move the dial. 

Our Thoughts

The primary takeaway here is Google is actively telling us that links will no longer help to significantly increase rankings on its search results page. 
Instead, website admins should focus on activities which will help climb the rankings such as spending time improving your content and user experience. By making your website better you will positively impact the experience your users have whilst browsing and this is something Google is actively looking to reward. 
Google’s objective is to continuously improve its search results and the confirmation that links are now less important compliments the changes that it is making within its March 2024 Core and Spam Update
In our experience, the power of links has been in decline for a while. There was a time when links were the holy grail of SEO, the more links you had from authority sites, the better chance you had of securing one of the top spots at the top of the search results page. A simple numbers game.

More recently, we have been able to outrank our client’s competitors and achieve top 3 search results page positions with a fraction of the links that their competitors have.
This was something we noticed on numerous occasions and now Google have confirmed our theory. 
This is of course all in the context of ranking on Google. Links are still important for website navigation and signalling important content, but the days of using links to get indexed look to be over.

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