David Berkowitz recently wrote an article asking what if links lost their value? Over the past year real editorial links have only increased in value, as Google has been more aggressively requiring some minimum PageRank threshold to even index a page.
Many types of links have lost value as Google has got better at filtering link quality, but will editorial links ever lose their value? To answer that you have to realize that the reason links have value is that they are typically a proxy for trust based on social relationships or human judgement.
But links are openly gamed today and there are an increasing number of affordable marketing techniques that allow virtually any site to garner hundreds or thousands of quality links.
One day Google might come up with better ways to determine what to trust, but if they do, it is going to be based on who humans trust more, and who amongst those trusted sources does the best job of providing editorial value and noise filtering on their site. And this internal site filtering will become even more important as many hub sites leverage their brand and allow communities to contribute content to their sites.
There is one part of David's article that I think is off though, and that is the part on the keyword density:
Keyword density, the imperfect science of including just enough of the most important keywords on any given page without spamming the search engines, becomes more important than ever.
I don't think keyword density will be the answer to anything. I think a more appropriate phrase might be linguistic and attention based profiling.
If links (and link acquisition rate) are a sign of quality, then likely so are RSS subscribers and RSS readers, as well as brand related search queries, custom search engine entries, instant message mentions, email mentions, and repeat visitors. Those are a few examples of attention based profiling.
If you are the person that people are talking about then you are also going to help shape your topic's language. You may make up many of the new words used in your industry and your name may even be a core keyword in your industry.
You are not going to match your language better than the competition by caring about keyword density. The way you beat them is to have more market attention and work your business and name into the industry language.
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