For years, a daring thesis emerges in the SEO industry, which promises positive changes: “Backlinks lose importance”. But somehow, this assumption has never been confirmed and herefore, still looking for exchange partners and affordable links that support the rise in the SERPs. A tedious job that many would like to save. Now it is time again and the end of the backlink dominance is suspected. But can it really happen this time?
Google makes it no secret of relying more and more on machine learning and artificial intelligence. This is already evident in some areas. As early as 2016, the statement “AI First instead of Mobile First” was made for the first time and since then it has been tested everywhere how the algorithms can be controlled by the Rankbrain AI system. The search engine learns with each query and that’s not just a little data that can be used for further development. But what does this mean for website optimization? There has to be a lot of change!
Those who currently buy mostly links to achieve top rankings will not achieve great results with this strategy. It will be much more important to also focus on technical SEO and, above all, to place a lot of emphasis on content quality. Yes, content quality has been a recurrent theme for years, and it gets a bit boring to ponder it – but when Artificial Intelligence takes over, it really becomes an important factor. Because then not only keywords count, but also the semantics is gaining in importance. More precisely, the semantic distance between words.
In practice, Rankbrain then ensures that a search query not only looks at the keyword itself, but understands the meaning in the context. Synonyms are therefore, no longer a real problem – just as previously unknown searches. The SERPs are so messed up, always more individual and accurate. So a good ranking soon needs more content than the main topic. Rather, sub-topics must also be included, the approach must be more holistic. This means one thing above all: more content creation work that has to follow a completely different strategy.
There are already some search terms where content sites that are either extremely deep or deep are doing much better than those that have a lot of good backlinks. Of course, it will take time for this to take hold – but it also takes time to create the content. If the content is content, then the focus can be on factors such as bounce rate, length of stay, etc. The signals are also stored and used to present the best possible search results to users. So there is a lot to do, because the AI will not disappear from the scene so easily.