Did AI Kill Backlinks?
Since the dawn of the internet, Google used backlinks to determine the importance of different sites. To simplify it, Google looked at how many other websites were linking to a website, and the more links a website got, the more important that business was deemed to be, so Google would show them higher in the search results. There were bonus points for when high "domain authority" sites link to a site since if a "cool" site was talking about another site, that referenced site must be pretty cool itself.. right? It's high school all over again!
But clearly, and I mean clearly, the backlink game has been played, so Google had to up its game. With the old style of paid backlinks, if John's Pizza Shop wanted a backlink, John would likely pay for the anchor text of "best pizza in NYC" to link to his website on another website. You'll notice John's Pizza Shop was never mentioned by name, but the Google crawler would see that the author thinks John's Pizza is the best business to show when someone wants to double-click into a topic.
But, AI can see right through that backlink exchange!
AI understands the context of web pages and the names of businesses being referenced, even if a backlink wasn't given. For example, if on this very newsletter (that then gets converted into a blog post on our website) I said "John's Pizza is the best pizza in NYC" but never backlinked to their website, Google will count that as an "implied backlink". (here's Google's patent on this "implied backlink" feature) In our opinion, implied backlinks are more powerful today since it shows the author cared so much about your business that they actually referenced it by name and didn't just hide a link behind some text. Also, generative AI search results can quote implied backlinks!
Whoopty dooo, but what does it all mean, Basil? (click me if you don't get the reference)
Generative (AI) search results will likely power all search results sooner than you think, and it'll be essential to build up your "entity identity" (that's pretty fun to say) on Google so Google fully knows what you do and that other people care about you. To do this, start going around to local businesses and ask them to reference your business by name on their website or social media platform. If they include a link to your Google Business Profile somewhere on the page, too, that'll help even more since it shows Google a more holistic view of your business. This sounds hard to do, and it is, which is why if you take the time to do this, you'll be out working the vast number of your local competitors. Here are some examples of businesses you may ask to reference you based on your type of business:
Contractors: local hardware stores, complementary service providers, realtors, insurance agents
Restaurants: nearby entertainment businesses, your landlord, suppliers, payment processor
Retailers: suppliers, the brands you sell, your landlord, payment processor
AI is going to change how searches help all kinds of businesses, including local ones, and we'll make sure you're covered!
Speaking of AI, did you try out the new AI image creation feature yet in ProfilePro? As a reminder, all users now get 1 free image creation each month to use for Google Business Posts.
If you usually stop reading our newsletter here, you're missing out on great stuff below...
ProfilePro tip of the week:
Write a Google Business Post/Update using ProfilePro, and include an AI-generated image if you don't have a real image taken of your business.
Note: some users are experiencing issues with generating posts & images due to Google testing a new post layout which breaks our extension. Once we have it on a test account we can update ProfilePro to support it.
Wondering how well your Google Business Profile ranks on Google Maps for different keywords? We built a free local ranking audit tool you can use to quickly find out!
Check out our guide on every possible ranking strategy for Google Business Profiles!
Google Updates You Should Know About
Google updates their algos regularly, and we check and then digest them for you. Here are the latest ones local marketers should know about:
You can find details on all algo updates here.