My first article is not surprising (indeed, we’ve reported on this fairly recently) but it’s always good to get clarity on the importance of links in Google’s thinking – particularly straight from the horse’s mouth – even if he is clear that he expects backlinks to lose their primacy in time.

What’s particularly important to take from this is the reiteration of Google’s desire to focus on content authority, though how they will seek to establish that authority – be it authorship, Google+ attribution or elsewhere – is the ongoing question.

And, of course, the benefit of backlinks goes beyond their “link equity” in Google’s eyes – as articulated by Jon Ball.  And this is, in a sense, the reason why Google will continue to value them – natural links are evidence of natural behaviour and validation, which in themselves generate marketing value.

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Following up from our previous articles on the importance of Schema Markup, here’s an excellent video interview with Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics.  Our CEO, Greg, has chewed the fat several times over Searchmetrics data and we at DSM are big fans of his.  Suffice to say, Markus knows his stuff and this offers some excellent points to take away around Schema.

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The importance of listening to your audience, rather than just blindly pushing your target keywords is explored by Laura Lippay via the Moz Blog.  At one level, this is really important because it is tapping into Google’s message about being less focused on SEO and more on providing value (and authority).  However, at a deeper level, the message is much stronger – listen to your audience and give them what they want; not what you think they want; tailor what you do (and say) to your audience (and customers), not vica versa.

Also in alignment with this ethos is this article from Larry Kim about the growing need for long-form articles.  In a longer article, you can give your reader a greater amount of what they want (assuming you’ve been listening to them!) and they will reward you with more engagement, whereas with short articles, a site is less likely to win a visitor’s attention (and return), even if it may still be valuable for indexing purposes.

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Of course, if no-one is on your site, how can you know if what you’re producing, content-wise, is right.  As always, you can’t tell if your audience likes what you’re giving them if you’re speaking to an empty room.  And, thus, we come to our regular link to Moz’s Whiteboard Friday!  Rand takes a detailed and very practical tour around how to increase your site visibility.

And to finish off with another Rand-orientated article, here’s a rebuttal piece from Bryson Meunier on Rand’s assertion that Google has brand bias.  Whilst I ultimately agree with Rand’s position on this, it’s a very good article and the conversational aspect of second part (with Rand replies included) is particularly informative.  Actually, I think they’re both on the same page and most of the ground between them is simply semantic.  I’ll leave it with a quote therein from Rand:

The Matt Cutts quote: “we don’t really think about brands. We think about words like trust, authority, reputation, PageRank, high quality.” 

Is the epitome of Google favouring brands, since a great definition of a brand vs. a non-brand is one that has consumer trust, authority and reputation (PageRank & quality notwithstanding).

What are your thoughts on Brand Bias?  Or on any of the other points raised in the Digest this week?