Backlinks have become a key element of search engine optimization over the past few years. Google uses links to determine whether a site is an authority source. It is why so many site owners become focused on increasing backlinks, trying to push themselves up search engine rankings.
But it appears that “linkless” backlinking is now becoming the new trend among SEO experts. It is because Google is beginning to recognize these unlinked backlinks to rank sites on search results pages.
Google and Bing on “Linkless Backlinks”
Gary Illyes, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, spoke about the backlink issue in late 2017. He mentioned that high-quality content that is regularly cited, not just through backlinks but also through social networks, will help the website.
Another mention comes from Duane Forrester, a senior product manager for Bing. He spoke in 2016 about unlinked mentions, saying they were as strong as backlinks. It gives us reason to believe that search engines can easily identify linkless backlinks and use them to determine rankings.
Google Patents on the Subject
There is a “Panda patent” from Google that refers to these linkless backlinks, which refers to them as implied links. An implied link is defined as a reference to a resource, such as a citation. But it does not have an express link to that resource.
Changes to Google’s Search Quality Guidelines
Google uses its Search Quality Guidelines to eventually develop changes to how its ranking algorithm works. There is a mention in the guidelines that references implied links, which states that ratings must look for outside and independent reputation details about a website.
In fact, if a site says one thing but external sources are saying another, those external sources are given preference. It shows the weight of references to your site, even if they are unlinked.
Businesses Must Track Brand Mentions
The question many site owners will be asking is how they can use this information. How can implied links help increase search rankings for site owners and businesses?
The process is not too complicated. Businesses would need to track their brand mentions, whether on other websites or social media. It is important to assess whether these mentions are positive, neutral or negative.
It is also a good idea to push for positive mentions through various settings. These can range from influencers talking positively about the brand on social media, positive ratings on review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, and review articles on established websites speaking positively about products.
While monitoring implied links seem daunting, it is a more natural way of assessing how a business is being viewed online. And it promotes the creation of quality content, products and services that are serving the needs of the target market.