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Tutorial 1

The Basics

Important factors which influence link efficacy - LBS

  1. Link source
  2. Relevance of placement
  3. Anchor text
  4. Follow vs no follow
  5. PageRank

1. Link source
There are a few different types of ways a link may come to exist. The first is organically. With organic links a certain web page is found to be useful or enjoyable and a user decides to create a link to it from their own site or through a social activity (Facebook post, bookmark, blog comment, a share, etc.). Organic links are considered the most worthy in the eyes of the search engines. In contrast, links sourced from link farms or link pools are considered to be a form of link spam. A link farm/ pool is a network of web pages that have elected to allow a link to be placed on their site either for a certain fee or in exchange for a reciprocal link. Link farms are usually made of long lists of unrelated links which often link to one another resulting in an irrelevant network of links. Sometimes these pools are separated into different categories to try and increase the link’s relevance. Overall, link farms/ pools are viewed as spam by search engines and are easy for them to pinpoint and penalize (unrelated sites all linking to each other do not go unnoticed). Additionally, a link may be acquired through a link exchange, or reciprocal linking. This is when two web pages agree to each place a link on their page to the other’s page. This method also alerts the search engine that inorganic linking is taking place and the potential for a penalty is high.

2. Relevance of placement
Links between pages act as a roadmap which search engine spiders use to understand which content is related, popular and important. When creating backlinks it is extremely important to place a link on a page with content relevant to the landing page’s content and to the domain in general. For instance if your link points to a page about vintage earrings you will want to place the link on a page which talks about vintage earrings or vintage jewelry and has well written content. Placing a link on a page that has nothing to do with the content of your link alerts the search engine that something suspicious (i.e. not organic) is taking place and will most likely result in the link having no impact or the domain being penalized with a lowered SERP ranking.

3. Anchor text
As previously mentioned, anchor text is the hyperlinked text which when clicked points to your webpage (backlinks). It’s very important that a link’s anchor text uses keywords which are strongly related to the content of the linked page. For example, if my webpage is about vintage earrings, I will perform a keyword search using Google’s keyword tool to reveal which words related to “vintage earrings” are most searched for. The link’s anchor text selection will be based upon those keywords that are most relevant to vintage earrings as well as most frequently searched for. Anchor text can be short tailed or long tailed, and branded or not branded.

4. Follow vs. no follow
There is an ongoing debate in the SEO world surrounding nofollow and dofollow links.

The background: In 2005 Google announced that in order to curb rampant link spam site owners could elect to place a rel=“nofollow” tag for all outbound inks placed on their site and most blog and forum owners did so. Google explained that the nofollow tag would tell the search engine not to scan the link and therefore the link would have no influence on optimization and rankings (no “link juice” would be passed). At first people were convinced that nofollow links were now useless and and valueless. However, as time passed people became aware that no follow links were still having an effect on rankings and were passing “link juice.”

The facts: Socialseo.com did an extensive study on nofollow links and found that they were effective in passing strength. The SEO community is still somewhat divided in regards to the effectiveness of nofollow links, though the general agreement is that they are effective and valuable when using link building for SEO. Also, Sorezki’s own research and years of experience have shown that nofollow links are indeed followed- they are simply too large of a database for Google to ignore.

5. PageRank
One of the most important factors which influences SERP rankings and link building is PageRank (PR). If SERP ranking is influenced by relevancy and popularity, then PR is the basic search engine measure of popularity. PageRank (PR) is an algorithm created by Google an named after Larry Page (one of Google’s founders) which gives a webpage a rank from 0-10 (10 being the highest) based on that page’s backlink strength.

In it most simplified explanation, Google explains PR as:
“…a model of user behavior. We assume there is a “random surfer” who is given a web page at random and keeps clicking on links, never hitting ‘back’ but eventually gets bored and starts on another random page. The probability that the random surfer visits a page is its PageRank.”

When PR calculates link strength, it considers specific aspects of the links, some of which were discussed above:

  1. The quantity of inbound links- links from other sites which point to your site
  2. The source of the links (organic, spam)
  3. Quality of the linked sites and relevance between the links
  4. 2. PR of the linking sites (if there are many inbound links from sites with a high PR, the PR of the site the links are pointing to will increase)
  5. Seniority of the site
  6. Frequency of content updates on the site
  7. Amount of visitors to the site

…and other known and unknown factors.