As they’ve done for a few years now, the folks at Stone Temple Consulting have studied thousands of search results to see the impact that links have on rankings, and the results are quite interesting.
I strongly encourage you to read the full (long) report over on the Stone Temple Consulting website.
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For the past three years, Eric Enge and his team at Stone Temple Consulting have done deep studies on the importance of links when it comes to search rankings, and their latest study confirms what they’ve found in past years — links still matter a lot.
You can read their full post, linked in our show notes, for details, but they share three reasons why they feel that links continue to be so important.
The first is that adding a link to a site requires a material investment. Not a big investment, but if a site takes the time to add a link to another site, it shows they’re willing to put forth a bit of effort.
The second reason is because you’re making a public endorsement of the site you’re linking to. If you’re willing to show the world your willingness to link to another site, that’s a great signal for Google to use.
The final reason, which I thought was very insightful, is that a link on your site is an invitation for people to leave your site and go to another one instead. Eric says “A (non-advertisement) link on your site is an indication by you (as the publisher of the page with the links) that you think the link has enough value to your visitors, and will do enough to enhance your relationship with those visitors, that you’re willing to have people leave your site.”
It makes total sense, but I’d never really thought about it that way. They also get into reasons why social media signals still aren’t a big ranking factor, and they share a ton of data behind what they did.