While I'm guessing many SEOs will think this is Google being less transparent, I wonder if they're actually being more transparent. I've seen a lot of cases recently where sites with plenty of good (maybe not great) links don't perform well because they simply aren't the best answer/resource for the users' query. Content analysis algorithms and user/usage data, along with sharing metrics, might be on the rise, and Google's telling us about it.
Rand - while there really is no telling, I just don't see Google as having this scale of content understanding built into their algorithms in anyway. I tend to trust that google needs simpler methods of ranking that don't involve massive computing power to analyze.
- See "cheap android phones"
Does android-sale.com really have better content than say Wired (http://www.wired.co.uk/reviews/mobile-phones/2013-03/best-budget-androids) on page 2? I'd argue definitely no, it just has way more anchor text links.
If anything, bounce rates to SERP could be an easy quality metric but if the sites with great links truly beat out their competitors How would they have such crappy bounce rates that it held them below competing sites and still have a legitimate organic link profile?
yup, agree they are just remaining consistent across all communications channels. no new news here really.
As Matt Cutts said several years ago "all you need is great content". I love Google fairy tales.
Good content without distribution and link building is going to stay unnoticed. Based on my observations, social signals are important, but still they aren't the best answer for the users' query either. They could be tweaked more easily, in comparison to link building. The usage/engagement data, like Rand said, might be the thing Google is cooking for the industry, but still I think, that link building won't loose on it's importance.
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