Links And Linking Explained In Terms Of SEO And PageRank

Expanding on link popularity in a practical sense

Lets again imagine you were Google the search engine and you had to decide which page to rank number 1 for a particular keyword.

Lets assume Google had found 2 good sites optimized for the keyword water garden ponds. The first site had no links (call them recommendations or citations) from any other web page anywhere on the whole Internet. The second site had 100 different web pages spread across the Internet recommending or linking to this web page and all were coming from water gardening type web pages.

Google would have no hesitation in putting the second site into number 1 position.

Search engines do their best to mimic what a human reviewer would do faced with two equally well-optimized sites from a keyword perspective? The reviewer would depend upon what others were saying about the web page as well as his own views nothing was being said in the case of one site and lots was being said in favor (hopefully) about the second site. Quite simply to a machine that can count links the second site was more popular than the first site. But was it of high authority?

Thats how Google reaches some conclusions; just by counting links this is popularity and in earlier days the pure number of links was important irrespective of quality.

A MULTI PAGE WEBSITE IS BETTER THAN A SINGLE PAGE WEBSITE

If your website has two pages then each page can link to the other. Immediately your web pages have links or think of them as recommendations.

If your website has 3 pages and each one is linked to each of the other pages then each page receives two recommendations. The addition of one page has doubled the recommendations.

There is a tremendous amount of theory or better to call it speculation on links and search engines. I do not doubt many of these views of the better qualified than me are probably correct. These views essentially state the following:

A link from a very popular and authoritative page is worth more than a link from a purely popular page (remember the word PageRank to which we will still return). A very popular and authoritative page for example would be yahoo.com (it has a PageRank on Google of 10/10). This is a very good reason to have a web page in the Yahoo directory. A link from the Open Directory Project (dmoz.org) would also be a good link to have.

A link from a similar site is worth more than a link from a dissimilar site. For example a link from Joes wonderful-water-garden-ponds.com to water-garden-ponds.com is theoretically more valuable than a link from good-cheddar-cheese.com

Think of a links value from a site as being shared out. For example if a web page had 100 outgoing links and one was to your site then you would have a 1% share of the value of that link.

If you can find a web page with a high PageRank (has authority) with few outgoing links then your getting a link from that site would certainly benefit you.

A link containing the same keyword as the one used to optimize your web page to which it is linked is probably relatively more valuable.

The very basic and highly simplified relative way of looking at how Google might work out a rank for your website using link popularity can be expressed as follows:

(Add together all factors excluding PageRank factor to obtain an initial rank) then multiply this total by (the PageRank allocated to your page).

This fundamental formula just indicates that your ranking is directly proportional to PageRank and even with a constant PageRank increasing the value of all other factors will improve your SERP position.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD LINK

You have almost certainly at some stage got angry when you clicked a link on a website expecting to find useful information only to be directed to utter garbage or something different to what the link implied. This is not a good link and if a human reviewer was to look at it this the web page to which it was linked might be penalized.

Search engines try to do the same. They try to identify good links.

A search engine will give credit for a link that comes from a similar web page for example a web page about ponds linked from a page talking about ponds will get good marks. The search engine would however only know if the link was a good one if the words in the link mentioned ponds or the site in question has been optimized for the word ponds.

Whenever you use a link therefore do not say merely CLICK HERE since this means nothing to a search engine. It would be far better to say click here for garden ponds discounts for example. You have used a recognizable word on the assumption you are linking to a site about garden ponds.

Now you know this take a look at all the websites you visit in future. The best sites all use meaningful phrases or sentences as links. The ones who do not know about or do not believe in optimizing web pages for search engines have pictures or plain basic buttons such as click here, submit, back, home and so on.

HOME is about the worst. Every web page using home is losing out.

Yes go to your website NOW and CHANGE it.

Here is a free opportunity to create a perfect link to your home page; after all you wrote it.

Win $1 million of water garden ponds here is much better or at least I believe so especially if your home page keyword choice was water garden ponds and of course if you could afford the $1 million.

HOME tells your visitor nothing of real value (unless you sell homes) and the visitor cannot remember what your home page was about anyway. Why should he bother to go back there? By all means include the word home in the link if you want because it does help site navigation.

You can and should write into your links what makes sense and possibly encourages your visitor to go to your page instead of someone else’s page.

You make your website popular and authoritative by collecting recommendations or links. The more you get the higher will be your popularity.

MAKE YOURSELF MORE POPULAR IN VERY GENERAL TERMS

Now we know links into our pages are important and they are especially important if they come from pages of a similar nature or theme. It would make sense to have many web pages on a website each linking to each other sharing a common subject or theme.

The search engines agree with this approach and reward websites/pages that are themed to use a currently popular bit of jargon. Once again it is common sense isnt it?

An example.

This web page has 13 links at the top of the page (it actually has many more in other areas of the page but they cannot be seen on this shot) all leading the visitor to pages within the same website. Every other page on this website has the same links at the top of the page. There are 2 reasons for this:

1. To improve web page popularity

2. To assist the visitor to find the way around the whole site easily.

By the way notice the length of the text in some of the links. There is no Home, Back, arrows, click here, Submit and so on. In particular take note of the long text links in the left and right columns which are written to make navigation easier and more meaningful to visitors.

These links appear on each page in exactly the same place.

That words are used to link to the pages in a way that a search engine will give credit hopefully.

There are more links than there are pages on the website because there are links to related websites.

Notice also that each page has a link to my book page.

I have not really tried to sell my book on any of these pages. I have just brought the book to the attention of any visitor.

There is encouragement for the customer to help him/herself to something FREE. Chances are therefore good that the visitor will stay more than 0.5 of a second having clicked through to the web page.

My site today is very different to this one.

If you design a website say with 20 pages do make sure your home page does allow navigation to each page easily:

1. To allow visitors to navigate easily

2. To allow search engine spiders to find your other pages easily.

If you cannot or dont want to create so many links for whatever reason on the home page then find some other mechanism such as a site map to achieve the same objective. It is important to get to your secondary web pages easily the deeper the crawl required by a search engine the less the chance your web page will be found and indexed.

Did I say this earlier? If not I should have done. Avoid going more than two levels deep on your website. This means a structure like this . http://fishthefly.co.za/targeting-fish-on-fly/garrick/

When you go to Google or any other search engine you are not searching the web at that instant in time. You are searching what Googles spider (googlebot) crawled some time earlier and Google indexed some time after that and then added to its massive database of over 8 billion web pages.

Typically it might take up to 9 months (the Google Sandbox effect) for a spidered page to show up in Googles database. It is rare that Google will include all linked pages on the first crawl. It possibly will however eventually index most of your pages over time so long as it can find a link to each and every page.

If your website is not in Googles index it will never be found by searching Google … it is not possible.

HOW TO POSSIBLY MAKE YOUR WEBSITE LESS POPULAR

Google is not a human. Google cannot look at a web page that contains all sorts of mixed information and make a rational decision as to what the true content of the site is.

Google does not know that apples, pears, oranges, lemons are all fruits in fact today I think it does but thats another story.

So unless the web page is designed to talk about fruits in very specific ways such a site could never appear on page 1 or page 2 for a search about fruits. It might appear on page 999 where no-one will ever see it.

The Internet world talks about themes being important and they are. It depends what you understand by theme.

Today this very simply means to me that a website or even a web page has to be as specific as possible around a chosen idea or product or system or whatever is being discussed. Not every SEO would agree with me here and many have long theories to attempt to explain a theme and how to build the theory into the practical website. I thought about these theme theories for months and never could get my mind around them in a practical sense and gave up and plumped for what to me seemed common sense.

In the case of my project I considered it would be wrong in the same website (notice I said website not a single web page within the website) to talk about pumps at the same time I was really talking about ponds which is quite a large subject in its own right. I assumed I would decrease my webs popularity if I included these two separate ideas albeit they were both related to water gardening as a bigger theme on the same website.

I did not want to take the risk of straying from a theme and made a fundamental decision to introduce a totally separate website for pumps rather than tack on these same pages to the ponds website making it a much bigger website.

Before I knew better I would certainly have made one large website with many pages because this would be cheaper much cheaper.

To this day I cannot be absolutely sure this is the better approach but I do think it is. It is certainly not wrong and it does give me the chance to create many external links as well as internal.

There was another reason. I reckoned based upon my readings about search engines that links or recommendations within the same website but from different web pages would count for less weight than recommendations from a totally different website. Experts disagree here.

My view was based upon thinking as a human. Somehow I think if all my relatives were voting for me this would not have the same weight as total strangers voting for me. I could be wrong here. I played safe and took the route of strangers voting rather than relatives. This point will come up again later. Take note however that every page on every site has useful content on it. This is what is critical. Namely information that is useful to interested searchers. This is surely what people are hoping to get from a SERP.

You can do a lot to make yourself popular using links. This helps to understand why some consider short web pages are better than long web pages. You can make yourself less popular using long pages because the opportunity to create links is lessened.

Let me remind you again. Content is what is important view your page from the perspective of a searcher. Every time.

GETTING TO BE EVEN MORE POPULAR

There are websites offering to guarantee you hundreds, even thousands of links to your web pages. Do NOT use them EVER. They will charge you $ per 100 links. Such link farms as they are called are frowned upon by search engines and normally the links are of little relevant value.

The search engines also know of these sites and you can bet your life that links to and from them are penalized in some way. Why? Simply that the SERPs are being manipulated just like the spam from good cheddar cheese we discussed a while back was doing the same kind of SERP manipulation.

Search engines do not like to be manipulated and they need you less than you need them so my advice is keep away from anything smelling of manipulation, tricks and make millions in 10 days kind of approaches.

On the same tack many websites offer to do all the hard work of finding and arranging links for you, within 1 day at a cost of only $100. Keep away from them. It cannot be done. End of story!

On the other hand you should go out of your way to ask for links into your site from similar sites. Some sites will be prepared to do this especially if you offer to link to them in return. When you ask for a link (normally e-mail the web master) use a personalized note and give the specific words you would like to have used in the link e.g. please take a look at this great site about garden ponds .

The desire to gain links should never stop. The more links the better. Remember they are just like recommendations.

GOOGLE CAN HELP TO GET GOOD LINKS

Lets take a look at Google from the users point of view for a while. This can point us to some good ways of improving our websites or at least getting to know how to find out more about them. Decide early on which page you would like links to point to.

Before going into any detail I would encourage anyone who still does not have the Google tool bar to load it onto their browser window. Below is what the Google tool bar looks like when you open your browser after you have downloaded it. This shows irrespective of which website you are looking at. The first big advantage is that you can search Google at any time you do not need to go out of the page you are already in. Here is the link to download the tool bar http://toolbar.google.com/

To the right of middle above is a particularly important although not accurate piece of information It is called PageRank (see below) and is a horizontal green bar chart representing scores between 0 and 10. The Google PageRank is a perfect 10. It essentially means that you are looking at a very popular and/or authoritative site as measured by the volume and quality of links pointing to the page concerned.

Select advanced search from Googles home page and this screen shown below is what you will see. As the red arrow indicates there is a specific search query you can do. A quicker way is to type the following into the search box link:www.thenameofyourownsite.com and the results will be returned to you as normal SERPs.

This is very important information. You now can discover which sites are linking to your competitors. You also know how many more or less sites they have linking to them. Everything else being equal the number of links wins. If any of the linking sites to your competitors site has a PageRank of 8 or more then your competitor has a particularly good link

This search would probably also identify other sites belonging to the same company because it almost certain they would link back to themselves. Of course Google can only identify links from other pages if those other pages are in its database go back to what I said about the spider a few pages ago.

There is a quicker way to find out this information using the tool bar. See the little blue button in the above screenshot click this. All the information is sourced from links data.

Play around with this toolbar its useful.

This section below is how Google describes itself. The paragraphs have been extracted from Googles own web page.

Google searches more sites more quickly, delivering the most relevant results.

Introduction

Google runs on a unique combination of advanced hardware and software. The speed you experience can be attributed in part to the efficiency of our search algorithm and partly to the thousands of low cost PC’s we’ve networked together to create a super fast search engine.

The heart of our software is PageRank, a system for ranking web pages developed by our founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. And while we have dozens of engineers working to improve every aspect of Google on a daily basis, PageRank continues to provide the basis for all of our web search tools.

PageRank Explained

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”

Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don’t match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page’s content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it’s a good match for your query.

Integrity

Google’s complex, automated methods make human tampering with our results extremely difficult. And though we do run relevant ads above and next to our results, Google does not sell placement within the results themselves (i.e., no one can buy a higher PageRank). A Google search is an easy, honest and objective way to find high-quality websites with information relevant to your search.

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