Today we’re going to do a bit of a different article. We’ll be piggybacking off of an absolutely incredible SEO article by Rand of

And we’re not even going to link to him.

Whoa! Talk about rude.

...maybe not. Read on and see!

On SEOMoz, Rand made a claim. A bold one. And we think you sharp SEOSiteCheckUp readers will know immediately where this is going.

He claimed that anchor text is going away. Yes, the foundation of backlink building is going away. Instead of anchor texts, Google will rank websites based on co-citations.

Huh? Stay with me!

What is a co-citation? Well, read the first paragraph of this article again. We mentioned SEO, and we mentioned So what? Well, Rand says there are sites ranking high on Google for ultra competitive keywords with little to no exact-match anchor text backlinks!

How is it possible? Well, instead of links, these websites are referenced in the content of other websites, along with the keywords they rank for!

In other words, that first paragraph I wrote could very well be just as valuable as a link.

Yes, this is a MASSIVE deal. MASSIVE. And yes, we—and the rest of you loyal readers—saw it coming a mile away.

We’ve talked about the death of backlinks. But even we weren’t thinking forward enough. No, we hypothesized social signals would replace them. And that has happened… to some small extent. 

What Google’s doing with this is different – they’re taking the concept of backlinks and eliminating the need for the LINK. Instead, all that’s necessary in a co-citation is the NAME OF THE WEBSITE and the KEYWORD.

That’s right – no links are needed for a co-citation!

Why’s Google making this move? Well, think about spammers. Think about black-hat SEO. It revolves around linkspam! Yes, Google’s getting GREAT at detecting it. But it still takes time to eliminate a black-hat site.

A black-hat site could stay up on the search results for months before Google gets to it. 

But think for a second. What if Google started toning down the amount of “juice” each link gives a webpage? Suddenly, not only would spammers be virtually helpless, low-quality sites that used basic SEO tactics would also begin to lose traction big-time

Are backlinks finally dying?

What I did find a little funny about the post is where Rand went next. He talked about the future of SEO.

Well, I’m going to be upfront with you – at a certain point in the future, I think that SEO will be more difficult than actually building a business and a brand. Because that’s where we’re headed. We’re headed to a place where high-quality, well-known brands are ranking on Google.

And if you have to do SEO to get these co-citations, these mentions within an external site’s content, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle… big time.

At first glance, news like this can sting to some extent. We SEO’s have really had a rough past few years, haven’t we? Starting with Panda, continuing with Penguin… all the tactics we held dear have been ripped away from us. ;)

But this is GOOD NEWS.

Because internet marketing is changing. It’s maturing. Spam is less effective than it’s ever been and will continue to lose its power. Meanwhile, building a REAL business that satisfies a REAL need in a market and has REAL customers will continue to gain trust within Google’s rankings.

Our recommendation? Don’t fight this change. We SEO’s already known far too well that when Google makes their minds up, there’s not a damn thing we can do to stop them.

And you might’ve noticed that lately, we’ve been changing the content up a bit here at Initially, we covered SEO topics almost exclusively. And although SEO still is the meat of our content, we’ve been talking a lot about business.

This isn’t an accident. We’ve realized that Google is moving in a very specific direction. Google wants you to build something that’s valuable. Why? Because when you build something that’s valuable to people and Google lists it, Google’s customers gain value.

It’s that simple. We’ve said it all before – the Golden Rule of Google: GOOGLE IS A BUSINESS.

Quality is King.

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