"The Missing Link" is a Search Engine Watch exclusive reader-driven Q&A column with veteran content publicist Eric Ward. You can ask questions about all aspects of links and link building and Eric will provide his expert answers. Submit your questions here, or via SEW's Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ (use the hashtag #missinglink) accounts, and you may be featured in a future installment!
Do you feel Google is putting less emphasis on links as part of their algorithm?
– An Algoholic
This is a popular question lately. Here is the most honest answer I can give you.
While some types of links are in fact being devalued and counting less and less, these were often links that never should have been counting in the first place.
Google becomes smarter about links as the years go by. They devalued links coming from junk directories, link networks, paid link brokers, article databases, link wheels, etc. But this also has a tremendous impact on the remaining high trust links that Google does give credit for.
Those high trust links matter even more. In that sense, I believe links are more important than ever, it's just a matter of having the "right" links, and the skills to know what those right links are for any given site.
The best link builders/content publicists will know how to identify and qualify the best targets for their clients. They will know what to avoid, how to keep clients out of trouble, and they will recognize that organic search traffic is only a part of the puzzle.