For years webmasters have been following one of SEO’s golden rules: get lots of quality backlinks in order to help your site get top rankings on Google. And over the past couple years this is become a lot more tricky as Google began penalizing sites with poor quality backlinks.
As a result, many webmasters have shifted a lot of their work from link building to creating quality content that visitors want to share, and now Google has updated their Ranking help article to reflect exactly this.
First spotted by Erik Baemlisberger, the article now states:
In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.
Previously, the article stated:
In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.
For those who despise link building, and the negative SEO aspect of competitors pointing bad links to websites, the fact that Google is putting greater emphasis on sites that users want to use and share will be good news to many webmasters.
It also isn't surprising that Google wants to put that emphasis on the sharing aspect as well, particularly with Google+ and how it interacts with searchers who are logged into their Google account. I believe aspects of this will be given greater weight in the search algorithm, at least until the spammers figure out how to exploit it on a large scale.
Google's Matt Cutts not long ago signalled this shift, when he mentioned that putting too great of an emphasis on link building is one of the top 5 basic SEO mistakes.
"I wouldn't put too much of a tunnel vision focus on just links," Cutts said. "I would try to think instead about what I can do to market my website to make it more well known within my community, or more broadly, without only thinking about search engines."