What is that link worth?
In their information for webmasters, Google says:
"The best way to ensure
Google finds your site is for your page to be linked from lots of pages on other
scramble to generate such links. But we now know that
some links are better than others.
the bottom of the pile are link farms, which are now said to be
potentially damaging to any site involved with them. So 'links' are
redefined as 'relevant links', and there has been a massive increase in
webmasters exchanging links with other sites in the same industry. Yet
now, it is said you should not have too many links on one page because,
unless you run a genuine directory, the search engines are likely to
decide there is no real value to any one link.
fact is that the rules are changing and Google gives out very limited
information because webmasters may misuse it. Search engines want to find
the best answers to the surfers' enquiries. They need webmasters to supply
the information in a form that the spider can easily index. They do not
want to encourage people to trick them into a ranking that otherwise would
not be deserved.
Using my own site as an example, you can find 2
different measures of links on Google:
1) checking "link:www.web4marketing.co.uk" results in 43
2) checking "+www.web4marketing.co.uk" results in 704
By way of comparison Yahoo.com - when checked for "link:http://www.web4marketing.co.uk"
- finds 239 results.
That just shows that search engines are not publishing
useful data on links, even while acknowledging their importance. To
prepare our own strategies, I think we must start by trying to understand
the search engines' plans to improve their algorithms.
Search engines are trying to find the answers most
relevant to the searcher. To date they have had to rely on information
supplied by webmasters. What they would really like is information from
searchers to know which links they follow and where they spend time. So, they may note that a link exists from site A to site B;
but they are likely to be much more interested if they knew that searchers
were actually using that link.
In fact latest developments are giving search engines
more and more access to user behaviour. The Alexa toolbar was one of the
first to attempt to rate sites by their visitor popularity - and it
succeeds quite well for major sites; though it is progressively less
reliable the smaller the site, where the sample of users is inadequate.
The present trend is toward offers of data storage of emails and web files
that will slowly but surely increase the user data available to the search
engines. So they will downgrade the value of information from the
webmaster as they can replace it with data from the searchers. The result
will be a substantial improvement in the
quality of the search results.
So what should be the guidelines for new linking
- Submit to all relevant directories where searchers
might look for your product or service. If they charge a fee,
take a minimum commitment until you can see how many referrals they
are providing from your own web statistics.
- Make a list of 'authority' sites which you judge
capable of passing you good referrals and give them sufficient reason
for them to want to link to you. Basically this means offering payment
or content or a mixture of the two.
- Accept reciprocal links from relevant sites when
- Contribute to forums or new sites where a link back
to your site will be contained in the content so that it is present in
an authoritative environment without directly competing links.
- Plan a long term content improvement strategy to
persuade other webmasters to link to you.
- Monitor your referred visitors from both search
engines and others to see that both are rising steadily.
The proven value of each link is the number of visitors
it brings to your site.