A common assumption made in the SEO world is that links are a key ranking factor (and they are). But Jon Cooper thinks through the assumption, with some useful thought-bytes from industry luminaries. (And BTW good to be reading a blog post from Jon again – it’s been a while.)
From his conclusion:
Tomorrow is not a guarantee. As we’ve seen, Google can move very quickly. With that said, even if Google decided this very morning to move away from links as a significant factor, I highly doubt they could make a major change within a ~12-18 month timeframe, just because links are so foundational to their search engine.
The real threat is more foundational than links. Justin Briggs explained it best in his response earlier. The aspect of ranking a page organically in Google’s results has slowly declined in value, both because of other SERP features & search ads. There’s still a ton of money to be made, but we should work like we’re living on borrowed time.
Organic is just one channel in your inbound marketing – don’t rely on it too much… borrowed time indeed.