Ask people if links will stop getting used as “votes” in order to determine website rankings, and some will invariably say “Yes! Links will lose their importance once the semantic web starts operating”.
Some people have been prophesying the end of backlinks as “votes” as early as 2001. They argue that backlinks enable webmasters to “wrongly” manipulate the ranking system, giving them an “unfair” edge. It is for this reason, they say, that the web is still inefficient.
I simply do not agree with the above conclusions. I do not foresee backlinks getting replaced by anything else in the next 10 years. Let me explain.
First of all, backlinks are the standard source of linking out and referencing other content over the internet. The backlink is actually an essential element in any web-page. There is no denying that.
There are billions of websites out there, which means that there are 100s of billions of backlinks all over the web. Do you think the major search engines will be able to replace backlinks with something else? I highly doubt it.
Frankly, when I try to think of the notion that backlinks will get replaced, my mind draws a blank. What will they be replaced with? Keyword density? Nope! How many pages a website has? Nope! Semantics? I doubt it.
The fact is, millions of websites have spent billions of dollars on SEO in order to get their businesses ranked high in the search engines. Dont you think those websites will have major issues with Google (or other search engines) simply “changing the ranking algorithm and standards”?
Changing the system will cause Google to incur a dramatically high cost in research and customer retention. Most webmasters, which will hate the system, will start using Yahoo!, Bing or other competing search engines. Faced with a lot of opposition, I do not think Google will implement such a system in the short-term.
Also, to be honest, there is no simple way to replace a backlink. Over time, a backlink-driven system results in less manipulation of the search results. Why? Because in this system everyone has (limited) power in deciding a website’s fate. Compare this system with any “other systems” which might be implemented, you will see why this system still remains active.
If you think rankings using the backlink system is inefficient, wait till you see the major inefficienies caused by a switch to a different system.
Negating the use of backlinks as rankings determinants is similar to a business working without any money. It just is not possible (at least in the forseeable future).
Also, websites which are rankings high are actually very good at marketing. And as everyone knows, marketing is not a science and there is no guarantee of results. SEO is exactly like marketing! If a new system is placed which does not provide anyone with any chance to manipulate the system even a little, it will deter marketing and result in huge losses to the search engines as well as the companies.
My stance on this issue is firm: Backlinks are here to stay!
If you have any opposing opinions (or any other comments), make sure you comment!