How To Improve Linking Structures For SEO Purposes

This how to improve linking structures for SEO article was written by Tony Roocroft. There is little doubt that linking between similarly themed websites is critically important for good rankings at Google and also Inktomi but to a lesser extent at this stage (Inktomi is the actual search engine behind Yahoo’s results). However what is not well known and understood is the probable impact something called “Hilltop” is having on Google rankings or will at some time.

Before talking a bit more about Hilltop it is worth reminding ourselves that central to ongoing success on any website is the page content … it matters nothing if you have all the page 1 results if there is no information of substance and value to the reader who has clicked through to your website having discovered it on a search engine. Creating large quantities of sought after valuable content is the single common denominator for all successful websites. This is one reason why there are so many newsletters knocking around and why HTML is the preferred choice of the originator… The newsletter is just another web page with more linking opportunities.


This paper first came to my notice last year and I spent a lot of time reading it (and trying to understand it) because it made very good sense to me and it seemed logical that sooner or later it would be used in one format or another to modify and improve search engine results … I was even more convinced that this might turn out to be the case when I learned that the principal author, Krishna Bharat had joined the staff of Google. I personally believe the famous Google Florida update in November last year was influenced by this work.

To read the paper I am referring to click here

Have a look here for Googles main ranking factors:

In this section I will try to summarize the paper without going into the mathematical complexities since it is the overall concept that is important for all of us involved in SEO and this concept can be tricky to understand.

The most startling fact is that Hilltop was able to rank pages with a good degree of relevancy without even taking a glance at the actual website being ranked …. yes you read correctly . Hilltop does not even glance at your page so on page optimization factors are relegated to a low level of direct influence (however there is still considerable indirect influence since content is what creates links back to your web pages).

Hilltop is only concerned about what other websites are linking to yours … in essence what the web community says about your website not what you say about it. Hilltop was designed to overcome the on page spamming tricks.

Hilltop essentially spiders the web and looks for EXPERT pages … Hilltop’s definition of expert pages are those pages that have links TO good information or content or resource that appeals to that market niche’s searchers. Consider such pages to be a community. If many expert pages link to your website then Hilltop may well rank it highly. If few link then your chances of ranking highly are reduced significantly.

If you understand how Google PageRank works then Hilltop works in a similar fashion but takes relevancy into consideration whereas PageRank is completely independent of relevancy.

Hilltop will not even consider your page for ranking unless it can find two non-affiliated expert pages pointing to it. This makes it tough for new websites to even get considered by Hilltop. What is vital to understand is what non-affiliated web pages means and it is best if I use examples here .. and and are considered to be affiliated and Hilltop would ignore two of these sites on the premise that because the main part of the domain is identical then it is highly likely that there is a bond between the sites and linking between these sites is therefore “influenced” unduly. This may or may not be true and as such a penalty can be unfairly levied. Our recently built site for example has nothing whatsoever to do with

If you believe that Hilltop plays a role (now or may in the future) in Google’s algorithm then never structure your websites in this way. MY personal experience suggests that Hilltop in part is used by Google and I will never again create different country domains using the main domain name. We will never know of course because Google keeps its algorithm secret. To me it makes sense that Hilltop can influence the finding of spam sites.

More important in my opinion than the domain approach discussed above is the influence that same IP addresses have on Hilltop rankings. For South African website owners what I will now reveal is vital because most hosts in our country place many websites on the same IP address.

If Hilltop finds that two or more sites share an IP address then the value of each site is reduced and probably by a significant amount. Hilltop goes further … it assumes that websites having the same “class C” IP structure are also possibly compromised and the value attached to such sites is reduced for ranking purposes.

What is a “class C” IP

An IP address looks like this …. the class C section is 60.200.50. and there can be up to 255 independent IP addresses on this single class C, eg up to

Each one of these IP addresses is considered to be unique and it is but each one is stored on the same server so the possibilities of manipulating and cross-linking sites for the wrong reasons are increased … for example in many cases it is much cheaper to get a second IP address on the same server so people generally continue to place more websites on that server. Hilltop does not like this approach and penalizes such site structures.

When I first started doing my own websites I used Telkom (or Intekom) for hosting my RSA websites and at one stage I had 4 websites all on the server called lion.intekom (name instead of IP number) and I had no idea who else was on that same single shared IP address.

The message here is simple …. do not place your websites on shared IP numbers for absolute certainty and even consider using different hosts for the different websites you create … unique IP address with same class C might just not be enough in future and in fact maybe this is the case already. Information I have access to suggests that multiple cross-linking between sites on the same class C server results in a Google ranking penalty.

We use many different hosts and will never use any shared IP hosting and we have tended also to move away from same class C hosts too. We believe it is so easy for Google to identify link structures between websites that we do not even want to take a chance that our good content resource-rich pages created over months and years are assumed to be involved in “spam linking” structures. We know they are not but unlike the Google spider we can check visually using our brain. Google still has to use probablilities and possibilities to make ranking decisions … fair or foul.

If you want to take a look at very good low cost web hosts consider any of the here …. we use them and recommend them …

No doubt better to be safe than sorry as far as Google is concerned and with such good low cost hosting solutions around why would anybody want to save a couple of Rands by sharing IP addresses or even same class C hosts?

What Day Jobs?

I enjoyed reading an article by Kevin Done in last Tuesday’s Business Day. Kevin was suggesting people review any desire to become self employed based upon a recent UK report. Kevin also lamented that as a self employed writer that the need for selling and marketing was getting in the way of his writing.

Now none of us know what is actually going to happen in the future but like so many commentators Kevin completely forgot about the Internet in terms of what might be facing the future “worker”. In this early 21st century nobody can use history or even the late past to forecast the future in terms of employment trends because the Internet is having such a massive, unknown and unprecedented impact upon the way business is already being carried out. My suggestion is that it will not be a choice for very many to become self employed it will become mandatory. Twenty year careers are already pipe dreams.

Upon considering the future that inevitably involves the Internet here are some factors that will influence personal job availabilty in future. The annual product price increase so loved by South African business to cope with any kind of cost increases or to cover a high cost base in most business environments will disappear and growth in earnings will become more difficult. Tito Mboweni will see to that. This will create a forever increasing need for companies to reduce staff numbers and become more productive in general.

Similar cost reduction pressure will inevitably create a working environment that today we can only speculate about, although it will result in far smarter (lower cost) ways to make profits. Traditional advertising expenditure is already feeling the pinch here, just witness the growth of low cost totally quantifiable results-oriented PPC advertising that Google and Overture offer.

Already anybody, anywhere can buy the same digital camera at anything between $330 and $1,000 by purchasing on the Internet and such enormous price differentials do not apply to luxuries only.

So what happens to the business trying to sell this camera for anything above say $500? … they go out of business as loss of market share erodes any profit. Or they change their business model completely and this is more likely for most and it will only happen with some pain.

The smart Internet-savvy business able to completely re-assess its present day status and make changes at a remarkably fast pace will dominate future markets. The traditional slow moving companies sticking to the “tried and tested” text book approach to business will not survive as they are today and if they cannot wholeheartedly welcome and embrace the changes happening every day around them they will go out of business completely. Their strategies, their dependence on deep pockets and political connections or networks will actually work against them.

Business is rapidly evolving to a situation where “what you know” is far more important than “who you know” and thank goodness too.

Individuals (called Internet Affiliates and thousands of them growing at an amazing rate) around the world are trading and selling almost every conceivable product across the globe from their homes and a PC. These individuals are taking market share away from large traditional companies who do not yet even realise this. These individuals make massive returns on investment and inevitably drive down prices which often show themselves as FREE SHIPPING, 10% OFF COUPON, 24 hour delivery and so on.

And for Kevin here’s the good news. It has already become possible for any writer worth his salt to make a very comfortable living using writing skills combined with Internet marketing skills. Publishing PDF books, special reports, reviews etc at virtually no cost is already a reality and has been for some time already and using the Internet means you never have to leave your office again.

Comfortable living using writing skills combined with Internet marketing skills. Publishing PDF books, special reports, reviews etc at virtually no cost is already a reality and has been for some time already and using the Internet means you never have to leave your office again.

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