All Links are Equal, But Some are More Equal than Others
In days gone by it was thought that all inbound links from third party website to your site were of equal value to the search engine spiders.
Times have changed.
The search engine algorithms are far more sophisticated than they used to be. They can now differentiate between links that are good, bad and ugly!
The good ones can greatly boost your traffic.
The bad ones have no impact
The ugly ones can get your site blacklisted!
Google matches keywords from a search term to the keywords on your website to decide whether your content is relevant to the searcher.
But then the search engine needs to decide how to order the relevant websites on the search results pages. The position that a website is placed on the search results pages will determine how much free search traffic it will get.
To decide where to position a website in the results, Google used to just look at the number of inbound links that the site received. The links were like votes. The more links your site had, the more votes it had, and the number votes would determine where it was positioned on the search results pages. Simple!
But this methodology soon became ineffective.
Webmasters quickly learned how to artificially increase the number of links their site received and thus manipulate their ranking.
So now Google not only focuses on the number of links; they also focus on the quality of those links.
Quality Inbound Links
Today the quality of the links to your website is far more important than the number of links.
So what determines ‘quality’ in the eyes of the search engines?
- Page Rank: Google gives every website a PageRank, which is score based on a combination of factors including website traffic, age of the site, frequency of update, number of links and many criteria that Google keeps secret. The PageRank goes from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Links from sites with high PageRanks are better than links from sites with a low PageRank. To find a sites PageRank use Popuri.us . Yahoo uses a similar process called TrustRank
- Anchor Text: This is the text you use in your link. The words in the anchor text play an important role in helping the search engines determine its relevancy to your website. For example, a link to the SubHub website that reads "www.subhub.com" wouldn't be as effective as one that more clearly explains what the SubHub site is about, for example "SubHub, making money from online content."
- Link Placement: Where a link is placed on a page is important. The higher up a page it appears the better its perceived quality. The thinking being, a website owner is only going to put important links at the top of their pages.
- Links in Relevant Content: Links placed within relevant content on a page attract more search engine interest than those simply listed outside the body text in an accompanying list or in a directory of links.
- Link Age: Google is placing much more importance on the age of websites and the age of links. In the competitive online world sites come and go, so links that remain in place for a long period of time are given a higher weighting. When a search engine first picks up a link, it gives that link a low value; that value increases as the link ages and remains on the site.
- Link Acquisition Rate: Google is suspicious of sudden spurts in the growth in the number of links going to a website. Rightly or wrongly it assumes something must be going on to manipulate links and therefore search page ranking. Steady growth in the number of links to your site is usually better than big spurts followed by long periods of little or no growth.
- Beware of Buying Links: Having read what makes a good inbound link, you maybe thinking you will offer to buy links on high quality, highly relevant, high PageRank websites to improve your link ranking. This is a common online marketing strategy. However, be aware that Google has publicly warned that any webmaster found to be selling links will have their links ‘devalued’ and their PageRank reduced.
You should understand by now how important inbound links are to the success of your website.
What I have tried to convey in this article is that not all links are equal.
Invest your valuable marketing time and effort attracting high quality links from highly rated and highly relevant websites. This time and effort will pay off many times over as you accumualte more and more quality links.