The Future of Links as a Ranking Strategy

The Future of Links as a Ranking Strategy

Posted on April 18, 2023 nerdymind

A new year means new changes for digital marketers, especially in Google. And, no, we're not talking about Google Analytics 4 (though, if you're interested, we have you covered). We're talking about Google’s John Mueller saying that links might not be as important to the ranking algorithm in the future. 

In November, Google Search Central posted a Q&A from their podcast Search Off the Record.

During the podcast, Mueller talks about the fact that links may not be as important to Google's ranking algorithm in the future. He also hints that, currently, links are not weighted as much as they were in the past. Within the podcast, John Mueller says:

At some point, [links] will drop off a little bit as we can’t figure out a little bit better how the content fits in within the context of the whole web. And to some extent, links will always be something that we care about because we have to find pages somehow. It’s like how do you find a page on the web without some reference to it?

To some, this news could be frustrating—yet another thing Google is changing which requires digital marketers to get on board. To others, like us at NerdyMind, we're using it as a time to look at the importance of links now, and consider what the future of links as a ranking strategy could be.

Types of Links

There are many different kinds of links when it comes to SEO and ranking on Google. However, we're going to go about it from a broad perspective and focus on the three kinds of links on a webpage. There's internal, inbound, and outbound links.

Internal Links — Internal links are pretty self explanatory. It's a link to something else within your website. A search engine can tell a link is internal by the domain name. For example, you're currently reading a blog on If you click on this link, it will take you to another lovely blog on the NerdyMind website, so it's an internal link.

Inbound Links — Inbound links are links that come to your domain from another domain. For example, someone is reading about digital marketers in the Colorado area on There's a link on that website that directs you from that domain to That's an inbound link.

Outbound Links — Outbound links are links that lead to a different domain. Also known as external links, it's a link from one domain to another. For example, you're currently reading this blog on You're interested in learning more about the differences between types of links, so you go to That link is an outbound link.

The Past/Current State of Links as a Ranking Strategy

As it stands—or stood, depending on how you interpret John Mueller's comment—links are important to ranking on Google. External links, if optimized, can increase the credibility and authority of your webpage. This credibility incorporates factors like domain authority, spam score, and the links that your link uses. Linking to pages with higher credibility can give your page a bit more credibility. That's not to say that linking to pages like blogs will hurt your credibility. Rather, this ranking is to dissuade people from spamming their webpages with links. It's also to discourage people from seeing pages filled with artificial links. In conjunction, internal links are also important. Internal links can create a sort of conversation within your own domain. This allows for more page views and potential goal conversions.

The Future of Links as a Ranking Strategy

John Mueller didn't explicitly say Google will not rank links as high anymore, but this possibility is something to think about. It seems the path forward is to keep doing what you're doing when it comes to linking. Maintaining the status quo might not be the hottest scoop. We like to think it's better to know for certain than take a misguided guess.

The purpose of using links is to get your page to rank in SERPs (search engine result pages). If you rank higher on SERPs, your page gets more visibility and, by extension, more traffic. A good rank in SERPs comes from good SEO. Good SEO often translates to good, clear, and credible writing. Give credit to your sources; outbound links on your webpages act as a virtual bibliography. Even if the practice of linking itself doesn't matter as much in ranking, it will still give your pages more credibility. As for internal linking, it will never go out of style. Linking to your own content can create more page views, and make an easier user experience for your audience. Even if linking to your company's "contact us" page doesn't rank your page any higher on Google, it will still provide a pathway for the user who's looking for it.