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They don't link out properly and no url fields in comments at all, so the networks just horde PR.
links are not what make the internet work anymore. The flow of traffic through connections is what makes the web work. In the past, G did not have insight into this so links were the only way to make a "best guess" at connections on the web.
Get links that will bring traffic to your site, not just higher PR or other factors.
I agree that as of recent from my experience, links are not helping/doing much at all to help rankings for sites, even in-content links from authoritative sites!
I'm of the opinion that's what has changed the most is not the ranking factors of links, but instead the link building practices of website owners.
I believe it can collect this data from Chrome / Android, it doesn't need GA.
What if Google is already measuring the traffic flow through links, and this is why new links appear to have no effect?