Every year the search industry changes pretty significantly. 2004 brought us the roll out of the new Yahoo engine and search algorithms that look for natural language, rather than keyword density and weight. 2005 is already proving that it will be no different than the previous years, in that change will happen.
Web Pro News has published one of the best articles I think I’ve read from their news service, at least the best in quite some time.
An article by Bobby Heard titled 5 Things To Keep An Eye On In The SEO World In 2005 gives some insight on what we might expect to see in 2005.
Three of the five points mentioned have to do with linking. Like Bobby, I believe that reciprocal links are being devalued, but perhaps not in the same way he believes.
Google’s claim to superior results was largely due to PageRank. Of course, that was a time before link pages were common place and everybody and their dog’s mother was sending out reciprocal link requests. The algorithm must adjust to compensate. But lets face it, analyzing links improved search relevance and it will always play some role in the algorithm. But how much?
Here are some of my thoughts on how search engines are likely to devalue links:
- Too many outgoing links on a page
- Not enough valuable content on link pages
- Not enough text on page, or link/text ratio
The thing is, I believe the same rules will apply to one-way or “triangle” links as well. Search engines cannot automatically devalue a link simply because its reciprocated. Most times those links are “traded” and devaluing on that basis would be right, but Google or any other search engine cannot be certain that two sites are linking to each other simply because its the right thing to do. I believe it will be the link pages themselves that will become devalued. Reciprocal, one-way and triangle links will all be subject to the same filters.
This brings me to my belief that quality content links (linked articles) will be the most effective way to continue your link strategy. Linked articles “pass” the link devaluing measures I mentioned above. Only one outgoing external link on the page, good quality–and useful–content, and a high text per link text ratio.
Linked articles may not be the wave of the future, simply because SEOs cannot employ this with an automated management program, however in my opinion, it will produce the most effective and valuable link exchange available.