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E-Marketing Performance Blog

SES SJ: Search Engine Q&A on Links

This turned out to be a much better session than I had anticipates. Short presentations with a great Q&A.

Ramez Naam, MSN

What are links for?

  • Discovery (what pages exist)
  • Reputation (how important is this page – based on number alone, not link text)
  • Annotation (what is this page about – extremely powerful!!!) .

Key Principal of links: Author links that are useful to users. Keep URLs short and readable. Be descriptive in links. Make them useful for navigating (links pages don’t find link pages useful). Put links in a useful location, font, color, etc.

If you build good content and the natural links will come.

Kaushal Kurapati, Ask.com

Greater number, and higher quality of links pointing to a page the higher authority that page is given.

1) Search index to collect and calculate global info.
2) Break index into communities.
3) Collect and calculate local subject-specific information (find hubs and authorities)
4) Apply all pertinent global and local information.

You’re better off getting lots of good links on your topic than random links from other topics.

Be cautious of reciprocal and purchase links. Avoid link farms, cloaking, hidden links, image links.

Ask uses “subject-specific” technology.

Adam Lasnik(?), Google

Links are not a numbers game. It’s about useful and relevant. (landscaping is not relevant with mortgages). Vary link text considerably.

Rajat Mukherjee, Yahoo

Search engines are doing a lot more than looking at link signals.


The answers below are a mashup of all the speakers providing their insights.

Q: I have the capability to get lots and lots of links for a new site (due to my past reputation) but I’ve been going slow not to make the search engines mad.

A: Go organic. Don’t worry about speed so much as relevance. Search engines are not in the position to tell people not to link to you. By all means, get the relevant (non-bribed links). Its not automatic that the search engines would consider you a spammer because many new sites gain thousands of links overnight due to sudden exposure. Search engines also understand that most sites don’t have control over all the links pointing to them. Search engines are looking at many signals in the links.

Q: What can we do about people deliberately trying to link spam you?

A: Links are just one part of the overall picture. SEs don’t just look at spam/not spam but on the continuing issues over time. Getting a bunch of bad links early on (outside of your control) can be negated by a few relevant links. A few positive signals can cause a host of negative signals to be ignored.

Q: Do unlinked URLs count as a hyperlink?

A: No. You still might get some brand awareness.

Q: How do outgoing links effect your site, specifically on issues where old links tend to break over time (especially with bloggers.)

A: Pages with broken links are considered less useful. Check them.

Q: If a broken page suddenly reappears (after many years) is it discounted?

A: No, those pages will simple be considered as they are.

Q: When will you count links in RSS feeds?

A: They are counted in the blog search engines.

Q: Should we stop linking to our common peers in other regional areas?

A: Google tries to determine the intent of the link. You want to take the users interests first.

Q: How do you feel about the growth of the blogosphere and its effect on links (adding non relevant links to blog just because it comes up in the conversation).

A: Blogs and fees have brought a lot of these issues to the forefront. Bloggers often venture outside their main area of expertise. There is no real penalty. The linked parties are probably getting some value, but it goes back to the signals. This is an evolutionary process.

Q: Do the search engines look at link patterns through the entire site and determine that the whole site deserves a boost, not just the pages being linked.

A: The general answer is depends favoring no, except Yahoo, which favors yes.

Q: If you move a site from an old to a new URL, will you eventually get full credit to the links coming in (after 301)? Do you have to ask them to change the link to the new?

A: 301s do pass page rank, but it’s not instant. There is no critical need to get them to change the links as long as the 301 is in place.

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