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Thursday, August 30, 2007

When is a back link a bad link - seo article

When is a back link a bad link?

In days of old, back links or reciprocol links were considered the very essence of search engine optimisation. In didn't matter where you linked to or who linked back to you, any link was considered a good link.

The theory was that building up links to your website got you noticed more by the search engines, therefore, the more inbound links, the more notice.

Then there was a shift in emphasis as we realised that the search engines were really looking for authority – is your site the absolute authority as a match against a search phrase e.g: if someone searches for car turntables, is your site all about car turntables? Will the searcher be lead to your site only to discover when they click on the search result link that they go to a site that's all about photo gifts?

As social bookmarking began to dominate the need for returning valid search results, the search engines re-evaluated their importance on link exchanges and began to fine tune the 'authorative' a bit more.

Not only will exchanging or receiving a link from an unrelated topic website negate itself (in the eyes of the search engines) it can now actually count against you as your linking attempts are classed as a blatant SEO trick and nothing more.

When you sit back and think about it logically, it makes perfect sense. If someones searching for photo gifts, what possible interest is a car turntable going to be to them?

Some sites contain off-topic links because the company or person linked to is a friend. That's fine but don't harm theirs (and yours) search engine standing by including a link. If you have to include a link, then use the "nofollow" attribute that tells search engines that the link is NOT a vote by your site for that site!

Like everything else in the seo world, old habits die hard and long held beliefs remain, and a lot of 'quick fix' seo companies still hold link building as a valuable tool. I still receive emails now from companies offering a reciprocol link and even offering an online login area to administer my link.

Unfortunately, linking with a Canadian halibut fishing lodge or an American tour operator is likely to be as damaging to my (online) health as a fishing party would be for those poor halibut (read more here).

Yes, there is still a place for links but make sure they're on topic and the landing page when the link is followed is specific and relevant. Go back and check them regularly just to make sure.

Another interesting revelation with regards links relates to Page Rank. The higher rank a page has, the better it will do in search results (that old authority thing again).

Now I'm a bit undecided on this issue of Page Rank. The known methods for calculating and watching your page rank don't seem to be an exact science and those that have it worry so much about loosing it that they can take their eye off the ball with regard the visitor experience.

What is clear is that if you have good page rank and you link to a page with poor rank, then that poorly ranked page jumps up a couple of notches. The downside is your own page can loose some of its page rank so its a bit of a see-saw as I understand it.

You can share your own good page rank fortune around your own website or blog by linking to your own pages that suffer low rank.

I've just read through what I've feverishly been typing above and it occurs that I'm saying Don't Link! That's not my intention. Well constructed links – links to pertinent pages using descriptive key phrased links to pages (not sites) of relevancy that are both informative and on topic will always be appreciated by all concerned.

Also, if you've recently launched a new website and it's not appearing in any searches yet, then a link or two from older established websites will give it a real boost, perhaps sites you own or control yourself. However, be warned that all of the above should still apply.

Like this SEO tip? Jump to the last SEO article on this blog - click here

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