Senior Member from GB
joined:Aug 11, 2008
The thing is, it is not just the sites that link to you, it is also the sites that link to THEM.
I can imagine there are going to be some major earthquakes in some niches. Some site ecosystems that are not mobile-friendly will see a drop, RWD ecosystems will likely see a net rise (as inline links are mostly retained), while bespoke mobile ecosystems, which tend to exclude links, will be very chaotic.
Besides the primary, secondary and even tertiary link-disruption effects, I am of the opinion that Google will need to have rolled out a substantially revised algorithm that produces equivalent results, but relies less on links. Equivalent in the context means "no worse according to quality reviewers' scores for a given SERP" - emphatically NOT meaning "substantive carry-over of actual sites". I believe this, as mobile sites on the whole link out less, so reducing the viability of links as a primary ranking factor.
Combining both the waves of link-graph disruption with a whole new algo paradigm will almost certainly be one of the biggest disruptions to ever hit the SEO world. It might even have measurable economic impact (probably not).
I see wholesale destruction of small sites with low brand recognition as almost unavoidable. Citations are going to be critical to survival. Long-term traffic retention (repeat business) will be a core strategy of successful sites, as acquisition costs go up. Brands and big web shops will be inevitable winners as links disappear.
There will be collateral damage in spades, but it will just be that- incidental destruction of small business as Google shifts its search paradigm.
And I have not even considered the long-term effects on the web ecosystem as developers focus on Mobile.
[edited by: Shaddows at 12:48 pm (utc) on Apr 20, 2017]