We know a year ago, Matt Cutts said Google did try turning off links in their ranking algorithm and the results were horrible. We also know that Yandex, the huge Russian search engine, did remove links from a niche segment in their ranking algorithm when that segment was spammed to death.
Google's John Mueller: My Friend's Web Site Has No Links & Ranks In Google Well
Tuesday, March 08, 2016
Posted by Steve Plunkett at 4:24 PM
Again, at SMX West last week, Paul Haahr from Google said that when Google launched their knowledge graph in 2012, they decided to put entities at the forefront of their query analysis.
He explained that in order to show knowledge panels, the query needs to understand if there is any entity data there. So they moved that to the first part of the query analysis back in 2012, in order to surface knowledge graph data.
Google's First Part Of Query Analysis Is Entities Discovery
Posted by Steve Plunkett at 4:21 PM