Every so often I hear an idealist talk about ranking without links. Evidently Google has the ability to algorithmically determine what is quality content and what is not.
(I, too, believe they have that ability, I just believe they look at linkage to determine what is quality and what isn’t.)
It is disturbing, however, when I hear SEO’s talking this way. SEO’s should know better. I personally think that most SEO’s who refuse to acknowledge the dominance of links in the algorithm are refusing to acknowledge that obvious fact because they themselves are unable to build links. I look at it as a kind of wishful thinking. They wish that links weren’t the primary factor, and believe that if they say it enough, it might just become true.
Psychology aside, let me address the claim of ranking without links.
So far in my forum dwelling years, I’ve encountered several claims of ranking without linkage. Upon investigation, they all fall into three types:
The algorithm today is based on a kind of trust, or authority. That authority is established through inbound links, outbound linking and age. So links are just as vital today as they were 4 years ago. Perhaps more so.