There's still a lot of talk about building backlinks for your site to rank it. It works, it's familiar, it's easy, and it's cheap. If you think about it for a second, what are you really doing? What signals are you sending to the search engines? At the very basic level, you're telling the search engines that this site (the one you're building links to) is something that belongs in the results pages. You're building votes. Let's go a little deeper than that. What signals should you be sending? What the major search engines want to see are sites that people are talking about. The sites that people are buzzing about on the various social platforms, blogs, and other trusted sites. There's a term that's been floating around for a while, and there is a lot of data backing it up. QDF - Query Deserves Freshness. The search engines love it when high profile people are talking about this hot new site or post that's going around. They track it on multiple sites, and they're seeing it in multiple blog posts and social platforms. The top results will change if there's a hot new story for a search term. Let's talk social. Google loves social media. It's relatively difficult to manipulate, it's tough for us to track (for now), and social buzz means it's probably a great topic. They're even changing their algorithm to factor in social movement in the rankings for search terms. What does this mean for us? Traditional backlinks are eventually going to be phased out. They're too easy to manipulate, and too many people have access to the tools to fake it until they make it. It's easy to spend a few weeks spamming open blogs and directories and getting thousands of votes to your site to rank it. This isn't in Google's best interest, as the guys with the willpower to do this typically have shitty content to serve to the user and aren't in the business to serve others (rather, themselves. Guilty.) Search engines want to serve quality results to searchers so they keep coming back. Like I said, social signals are great at pointing the engines to quality content. If a few high profile bloggers or twitterers are talking about something, there's a reason for it. The search engines have figured this out, and are adjusting their crawlers to put some heavy weight on these sorts of signals. In case you're wondering, your twitter account with 20k spammy followers doesn't mean anything. Do your followers have their own networks? Are they reaching a broader audience? Are they creating momentum for your site? Are they engaging? The future of ranking a website is through social outreach. Building connections. Fundamentally, they're still just backlinks, but it's more than that. Building connections means engaging an audience with quality content and interaction. Building connections with the right people shows that you offer value, and those old sites with 80k+ backlinks and static content are just dinosaurs. Relics. You're hot, you're fresh, and you bring something new to the table. You belong at the top of the results. I've got plenty more to talk about, but I'll end it here. If you're in the business you already know what I'm saying. If Google+ gains some traction you need to get on board. The winds are changing. Get rid of the word backlinks in your dictionary, it's done. Let's build connections.