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Friday, July 27, 2007

The Value of Links versus Content
It used to be said that content is king. And while content is an important ingredient in developing a commercially successful website, link popularity is proving to be the deciding factor on what will or will not rank well, especially on Google. Off page criteria has grown into the primary ranking factor in the major search engines.

Link popularity analysis makes Google famous
The biggest feature that sets Google apart from their search engine competition was PageRank. Most search engines at the time looked at on-page factors to analyze what a web page was about. On-page factors are essentially how a website reads and the words contained therein. There was no verification from other parties.

What Google did was analyze what other websites were saying about a particular
web page by analyzing incoming links to a website. Google’s algorithm ranks websites primarily on:
1. The volume of incoming links to a webpage.
2. The quality of the incoming links to a webpage.
3. The anchor text (link text) of the incoming link to your webpage.

Volume of Links
The more links pointing to a website, the more important it is assumed to be. This is part of what goes into the mix of calculating PageRank.

A website like Yahoo is judged to be important because thousands of websites around the web are pointing to it. And if an important website links to your website, then your website is also judged to be important, which brings us to the aspect of quality.

Quality of Links

All incoming links are not the same. A link from Yahoo is judged to be more authoritative than a link from a poorly linked website. A link from a website that has a high number of naturally occurring inbound links and is themed the same as your website is a high quality link.
The web is divided by “neighborhoods” relative to their theme as well as quality. Google makes reference to “bad neighborhoods” and it’s important to stay out of them. Free for all (FFA) link exchanges are an example of a low quality link neighborhood.

Anchor Text
Since people naturally use descriptive text when linking to other websites, Google analyzes anchor text. It used to be enough to attain a handful of high PageRank links with relevant anchor text in order to rank well, but now it is important to achieve links from a wide variety of websites with descriptive anchor text. As search engine space becomes more competitive it will be imperative to secure a high volume of high quality incoming links.

How Links Help Your Website
The citation analysis model allows the web community to, in essence, vote for the top results. The problem is that if the web community cannot see your website (it currently does not rank well on the search engines), it’s never going to vote on it.

Another flaw is that while a natural growth of links is possible with a website that is creating ideas, such as a blog, this does not happen naturally with most commercial websites. Commercial websites are obligated to create content that inspires linking and take a proactive stance toward developing inbound links.

With the right content, tools, and resources, more sites will provide one-way links. The result is higher search engine placements and increased traffic to your site.

About the Author
Michael Fleischner is a Marketing Expert and Search Engine Optimization Specialist with more than 12 years of marketing experience.


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