GOOGLE: Links Are No Longer a Top 3 Ranking Factor


Editorial Staff

Shocking right?

I was as well when I came across it online.

Then, I wondered why will Google say Links are no longer a top 3 ranking factor?

So out of inquisitiveness, i did some research on it and came up with some interesting findings which i believe you should know about this controversial topic.

Such are as stated below;

Where Was This Statement Made

It all happened during an AMA(Ask Me Anything) Pubcon Pro annual conference in Austin Texas from September 19th to 23th, 2023.

Several dignitaries in the digital marketing space were invited to discuss on topics such as content marketing, artificial intelligence, local search, SEO, PPC, Social media etc.

And Google staff, Gary lllyes was invited and subsequently called up on the podium where he responded to several questions about rankings in Google search engine.

It was at that moment he made the very key statement about the relevance of links in Google search rankings which is the topic of this article you are reading.

What Led To This Statement

Back then, there were controversies as to the importance of links in Google search.

It all began in 2014 when Matt Cutts, a former engineer at Google said in a video that Backlinks is becoming less important when he made this assertion below;

………..And sometimes backlinks matter for that. It’s helpful to find out what the reputation of the site or a page is. But, for the most part, people care about the quality of the content on that particular page. So I think over time, backlinks will become a little less important

Fast-forward to 2020, another google employee, John Mueller said this;

“Links are definitely not the most important SEO factor”

A member from the Google’s search team by the name; Duy Nguyen, lay credence to the fact that backlinks have diminished in significance over time as compared to history.

He further stated that Google now relies heavily on other ranking signals to deliver relevant search page results to its searchers.

How True Is Such Statement

Back to the our topic of discussion; GOOGLE: Links Are No Longer a Top 3 Ranking Factor.

So, because of the controversies generated about the importance of links, several questions on this matter were thrown at Gary lllyes for clarity sake.

And he responded accordingly.

So, corroborating what Duy Nguyen has said, Gary lllyes at the event, stated emphatically that links are no longer among the top 3 ranking factors.

Quoting him, here are exactly his words;

“I think they are important, but I think people overestimate the importance of links. I don’t agree it’s in the top three. It hasn’t been for some time.”

Citing a particular example, he highlighted the case of how a website with zero links(internal and external) was able to hit the first page of google but discovered via its sitemaps.

Amazing right?

Its possible.

For verification sake, i did an experiment on google search using different long tail keywords.

And Here Is The Result;

I, personally discovered this webpage link [] was ranking on first page of google for this keyword: “Best online apps to make money without investment”

NOTE: This is as at the time of writing this article

See this below;

Images don’t lie.

So when it matters to authenticity of this statement, he was right after all.


Google: Are links no longer a Top 3 ranking factor?

So, the big question; Do we now agree that Links shouldn’t be regarded among the top 3 ranking factors?



Before we draw our final conclusion, lets be very plain here.

In the past, anytime Google comes out to make such statement as this, many stakeholders in the internet space and SEO experts don’t take it seriously.

Infact, they see it as outright disinformation or flat-out lying.

But to set the records straight here, there are lots of other ranking signals that Google considers. Infact, over 200 to be precise(according to backlinko).

The top 3 is just part of it.

So what does this tells us?

Links are still among the ranking factors to be considered when it comes to ranking websites in search engines.

So backlinks are still a very important factor to contemplate if you want to generate organic traffic.

It is just that it is not as material(powerful) as it was some years ago.

Hence, Gary lllyes didn’t contradict himself but rather made clarifications on the fact that Links, though are still important but may no longer be seen among the top 3.

Infact, he even believed that there shouldn’t be anything as top 3 because every website has its own factors that google utilizes for ranking purposes.

Different folks for different folds.

That is all.


So, finally what have we learned from all of these?

Well, here is my advise; Just 2.

1. Do NOT neglect Links as part of your SEO strategy.
2. Take other factors seriously e.g. high quality content, keyword optimization, website structure, mobile-first etc.

Thanks for your time, patience and attention.

If you have any questions, advise, suggestions or anything to say, then lets meet in the comment section below.

Till i see you in my next post,

Bye for now.

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