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Old 07-08-2004   #1
St0n3y
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A Positive Step Forward in Link Strategies

First, lets get the obvious out of the way: Linking is important to achieve rankings on the SEs (especially Google).

Along with that I firmly believe that SE (especially Google) are looking for ways to weed out links that are not relevant, not important, purchased or simply swapped, and want to favor links that appear to have a purpose (read: more valuable).

Because the search engines are always changing algos, it is imperative that SEO firms work to stay ahead of the curve and be forward thinking for new strategies. Anybody who's been in the business for more than a couple of years knows that today's common practice is tomorrow's spam, especially when it involves unnatural manipulation of sites, links, etc.

Link popularity building (swapping or one-way links) could be (and probably is) viewed by the search engines as just this sort of practice.

It is my opinion that Google and others will soon devalue "link" pages. For one, how relevant is a link on a page with 50 other links? Two, how hard is it to program an algo to devalue any link on any page considered to be a "link page"?

Google has stated that the value of a particular link is divided by the number of other outgoing links on the page. (I'm going from memory here so don't shoot me if I'm wrong.) For a crude example, lets say that a particular page can give out 100 PR points (I made this up, just bear with me). if there are 50 links on the page, each linked page only gets 2 PR points. If 100 links on the page, the linked page only gets 1 PR point. If only one link on the page the linked page gets 100 PR points.

So the obvious goal is to be the ONLY outgoing link on a page in order to get the full outgoing PR value. In the current culture of link swaps and link directories this is virtually impossible, you're certainly not very likely to get many people to link to you off their home page (yes, there are exceptions). So if link pages are on their way to just being another page of worthless clutter to the SE algo, what is the solution?

A New and Positive Way to Link

What is the web supposed to be? A resource for good quality content. What is it the search engines are supposed to favor? Good quality content. Most link pages don't fall under that description.

My own company has just started a new linking program to exchange articles rather than links. I'm sure I'm not the only way who has thought of this, but I've yet to see anything definitive out there or a even a small minority of SEOs actively doing such.

Here is what we are doing. Instead of trading links we trade new and unique content. That content is placed on a new page linked from a master "Industry Articles" page which is linked into the primary navigation. Within the content are two links, one internal, back to the home page of the main site and one external link to the linked site.

If the article pages are link as they should be those pages would soon be spidered by the SE's and develop a PR of their own. The PR does not have to be great because instead of sharing the link value with 20, 50, or 100 other links, you are getting the total outgoing PR value. On top of that the web is being populated not with junk link pages but unique valuable content.

Admittedly, its a tougher sell, but so was link exchanges just a year ago before people were educated on the value of linking. But as I said before, anything prone to manipulation is eventually doomed to be devalued. I strongly believe link pages are headed that way. On the other hand, swapping articles is EXACTLY what search engines claim to want, valuable unique content. And if that content links to you, even better.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions on this. I'm sure there are some cons that I may not have thought of and perhaps some pros as well.
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Old 07-08-2004   #2
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Great topic, thanks for posting it. I wrote an article awhile back about topical articles and link popularity:
http://www.searchinnovation.com/buil...ty-article.asp

The idea of exchanging articles in this way is very interesting. Using articles to build link popularity definitely works.
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Old 07-09-2004   #3
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I think Dan Thies has been recommending this idea since before I jumped on the web (his copyright on the below article says 2002).

http://www.insideoutmarketing.com/in...?p=pages&pid=8
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Old 07-09-2004   #4
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You are so close to openly discussing one of our little secrets that I may as well spill the beans.

Since about October of '02, we have been offering content hosting. It's not exactly what you are describing because it is not swapping anything. It is simply paying a webmaster to host your content in his domain and simply link to the interior page with a link from his index page.

A lot of the talk about "RELEVANT LINKS" is missing the boat. As I've said before, why would a direct competitor link to you from his main page? With content hosting it is easy to find a shoe site willing to host a page about socks or even other kinds of shoes. A health site to host a page about weight loss, etc. It simply beefs up their own relevant content and improves the relevancy of the entire domain.

Webmasters are a very diverse market. A LOT of webmaster have the need or desire for a LOT of products and/or services. All of those products and services cost money.

To my way of thinking, (remember though, I am a salesman and always looking for those needs and desires; so you may view it a little differently than I), there are two things above all others that have a perception of value to webmasters. Money and content!

Conventional wisdom on the net, ( is that an oxy-moron?), is that to get money from your website you need search engine positioning to help make sales. This creates a demand for links and content. The two things that are generally considered most important to gain search engine positioning.

Recognizing this demand, we began using our network of inventory partners to host interior pages written by the client, (or us if they pay us to do it), with no more than a few links, (keep in mind, the more terms in anchor text, the less relevant any one term is). Some going where ever the host wants them to go and the others going where ever the client wants them to go. Focused, optimized, controlled, THEMED content with a direct link from an index page of a related domain with PR. The webmaster gets money for the hosting and content for his own domain that he didn't have to research and provide copy and graphics for. Money + content = a good deal.

Usually, the interior page will get a PR one or two points lower than the index page within 30 to 60 days, (depending on what we all used to call fresh tags). As a policy, we offer the webmaster half the retail rate of the index pages PR. We make no guarantees whatsoever and insist that clients sign and fax a contract proving that they have had explained, IN GREAT DETAIL, exactly what is happening and what risks they are assuming, (I've had my fill of lawsuits for a while . This way the client typically, within a few days up to 60 days, gets a few pr links for a much reduced rate.
Optimized, controlled content + relevant links + at a reduced rate = a good deal.

Now, want to hear the kicker?

Keep in mind there are about a thousand variables involved here and as with all SEO, everything is specific to the keyword, BUT, more often than not,
BOTH THE CLIENT AND HOST BEGIN PLACING UNDER THE SAME KEYWORDS!
I advise you not ot use that in your sales presentations because you have no control over that unless you want to go in and try to optimize both domains and that is an entirely different kind of service.

I could be wrong, (lord knows I have been many, many times in the past), but I believe what you have just read is the birth of the next big spam debate. White hats, (whatever the hell that is), claiming they would never pay for content hosting because you would only be doing it to try to trick the engines while the black hats, (what an absolutely stupid thing to use to refer to people huh ?), arguing that it is just a way of giving the searcher what they were looking for.

As for me, I will not get involved in any more what is spam, you're a spammer, he's a spammer, everyone's a spammer but me, silly debates regardless of what headgear anyone chooses to claim they wear. To me it has nothing to do with whatever anyone thinks spam is. It has to do with identifying a market and satisfying a demand. It is not spam. It is business. Legal business that anyone and everyone has a right to engage in.




>>>>> screams as he runs away from the encroaching flames <<<<<<

Last edited by massa : 07-09-2004 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 07-09-2004   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by massa
As for me, I will not get involved in any more what is spam, you're a spammer, he's a spammer, everyone's a spammer but me, silly debates regardless of what headgear anyone chooses to claim they wear.
what a great line. i should probably combine that thought with one of your earlier hints
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Old 07-09-2004   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by massa
BOTH THE CLIENT AND HOST BEGIN PLACING UNDER THE SAME KEYWORDS!
Yes. We've that happen as well. And it doesn't require a full-length article -- we've seen the host rank highly just for having an outbound link with appropriate anchor text.
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Old 07-16-2004   #7
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Interesting...so, do you see this as a *tool* for the Search Engine Optimizer? Many would (and have) argue that this type of promotion, no matter how you dress up what you call it, is highly unethical. I believe that sites that are relying on Google's PageRank as their foundation are walking on cracked glass. What happens if tomorrow Google pulls the plug on the PR? What then? It is better to do the hard work and have a future than to rely the quick fix, IMHO of course. Keep this in mind, the Internet is only what we perceive it to be. Once the smoke clears, all we have left is reality

Keeping the "Perception" in Perspective

Last edited by mjr : 07-16-2004 at 05:22 PM. Reason: typo edit
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Old 07-16-2004   #8
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Link building to me is not a quick fix if done well. When it comes to writing articles for link popularity, there is more than PageRank you can acquire. The main reason to write articles is to share information, help people learn, etc. The other positive is that when you write articles, you are publicizing your website. That's great free publicity. Even if PageRank disappeared tomorrow, you would still have good information out there, people may naturally link to your good information and you would be publicizing your website. Link popularity is merely a portion of the whole picture.

Last edited by Daria_Goetsch : 07-16-2004 at 08:52 PM. Reason: Added content
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Old 07-16-2004   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daria_Goetsch
Even if PageRank disappeared tomorrow, you would still have good information out there, people may naturally link to your good information and you would be publicizing your website. Link popularity is merely a portion of the whole picture.
Mark these words of wisdom

I agree with Daria all the way on this. PageRank may be only a measurement to give an estimate of popularity based on a subjective mathematical equation. It's like, while Google PR might think Ferrari.com is a 7, to me it's definitely a 10. Does Ferrari really care if they are a 7? Will they win more F1 races or sell more cars? Not at all!

However, could a link from Michael Schumacher's brand new personal site to Ferrari.com be worth more than a link from ferrari.carclub.ru/sports/links/ . . . Heck YEAH! Perhaps, search engine's link algo right now are not capable of determining real life values, but they are intelligent learning systems that will get better with time and give higher weight on links that have a real life importance values, not just "X" number of backlinks.

I highly recommend everyone to read Mike Grehan's book "Search Engine Marketing: The Essential Best Practice Guide", which explains in more detail what Daria means about "Link popularity is merely a portion of the whole picture."

IMO, this is a "Step Forward in Link Strategies". Focus on the quality, real life value and relevancy of the site giving you the link, not the PR or Webrank number.

Great POST St0n3y!!! I think it's one of the best so far at the forums.
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Old 07-17-2004   #10
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Quote:
Even if PageRank disappeared tomorrow, you would still have good information out there, people may naturally link to your good information and you would be publicizing your website.
This is absolutely correct. This is not about building PR, thought that is a factor. This is about building relevant content and linking to other quality content and web sites.

I'm all in favor of Google dumping the PR bar. It would make things so much easier in this wicked SEO universe because quality would be the primary factor NOT PageRank.

Obviously linking (not necessarily PR) will always be a part of the measure of relevancy. Placing new quality content on the web and utilizing that to build incoming links is a win-win-win. I win because I get a link, the site placing the articles win because they get more content and the search engines win because they find valuable pages rather than "link" pages.

Quote:
Focus on the quality, real life value and relevancy of the site giving you the link, not the PR or Webrank number.
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Old 07-17-2004   #11
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Originally Posted by St0n3y
This is absolutely correct. This is not about building PR, thought that is a factor. This is about building relevant content and linking to other quality content and web sites.

I'm all in favor of Google dumping the PR bar. It would make things so much easier in this wicked SEO universe because quality would be the primary factor NOT PageRank.

Obviously linking (not necessarily PR) will always be a part of the measure of relevancy. Placing new quality content on the web and utilizing that to build incoming links is a win-win-win. I win because I get a link, the site placing the articles win because they get more content and the search engines win because they find valuable pages rather than "link" pages.
Exactly
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Old 07-29-2004   #12
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This has been a pretty major focus for us in our firm these past several weeks and my thinking on it has evolved somewhat, but I'm still a full believer in the overall concept. So much so that we will probably be eliminating "link builder" positions and to hire more writers instead. Its a tough place because all my link builders have been tremendous in both turnout and quality, but ultimately I don't believe that the real quality is in link exchanges anymore (at least link exchanges via "link" or "resource" pages.)
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Old 09-06-2004   #13
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Smile are these dumb questions

While link building is it essential to have all inbound links going to your home page?

If you have a site with diverse content say - selling cars, and you also sell car insurance and car cleaning kits is it fair to expect your home page to rank well for 'buy a car' 'buy a car cleaning kit' and 'car insurance' surely you can only sell one thing at a time from a page. So when getting inbound links from related sites etc. is it a valid thing to get links to your internal pages which are on topic (mini home pages) or hubs. Or is this diluting the effect of your link building?

One final question. If you get penalised for linking to 'bad neighbourhoods' can you get any kind of credit for linking to 'good neighbourhoods'

Thanks in anticipation.
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Old 09-06-2004   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenkey
While link building is it essential to have all inbound links going to your home page?

If you have a site with diverse content say - selling cars, and you also sell car insurance and car cleaning kits is it fair to expect your home page to rank well for 'buy a car' 'buy a car cleaning kit' and 'car insurance' surely you can only sell one thing at a time from a page. So when getting inbound links from related sites etc. is it a valid thing to get links to your internal pages which are on topic (mini home pages) or hubs. Or is this diluting the effect of your link building?

One final question. If you get penalised for linking to 'bad neighbourhoods' can you get any kind of credit for linking to 'good neighbourhoods'

Thanks in anticipation.
Building links into various pages dilutes the effect toward the single main page but also helps you do better for some of the sub ideas. Also sites that naturally acquire links often acquire links to many places within their site so to look like a natural part of the web you will likely want some links pointing at inner pages.
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Old 09-07-2004   #15
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Thats interesting, I dont suppose there are any guidelines about how many links need to go to internal pages to get that 'natural look' on the web.
Perhaps I should start getting links from hair colouring sites.

I suppose using this as a base idea I should link to sites that dont link back to look even more natural. Which brings me back to my other question. I have been pondering some time now, if linking to good neighbourhoods is good for you. I dont think it would be a quantative test by an SE, but makes sense that it would be a qualitative test. (dont everybody rush to add links to google). It makes sense to me that one way of breaking the pattern of only having reciprical links (which will surely be easy to detect) is you have some outbound links to quality content sites. You would get a tick in the box for providing good content/resources. But like most things in SEO guessing because the idea seems to have legs, isnt the same as knowing its true. so does anybody have experience that this actually works?
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Old 09-07-2004   #16
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Originally Posted by mjr
Many would (and have) argue that this type of promotion, no matter how you dress up what you call it, is highly unethical.
Hmmm... not sure I get that, can you say why you feel it is unethical?

Great posts massa and Daria, those comments really stand out in this thread and have quite inspired me

Cheers

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Old 09-07-2004   #17
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What Google Wants

There is a lot of dis-information available regarding Google and what it looks for in regards to linking. We've done some intensive research and have put our findings in a white paper.

One of the most interesting things in this paper and relevant to this conversation is the concept of RankSinks. Google tends to look down on sites that hoard links without linking out themselves. To what extent is undertermined, but it is somethign to consider when looking at your overall link strategy.
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Old 09-07-2004   #18
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Hmmm... not sure I get that, can you say why you feel it is unethical?

Great posts massa and Daria, those comments really stand out in this thread and have quite inspired me

Cheers

Nick
What "some" feel is unethical is the selling of Google's PageRank (Blackmarketing PageRank).

Google most certainly frowns on this practice as Massa can attest to having been involved with a lawsuit with Google over that very thing, losing the lawsuit to Google. Massa's own sites PageRank were severely penalized by Google, i.e. his searchking.com site going from a PR8 to a PR3...adding that I do not agree with what Google did either as by penalizing his site they penalized most of his hosted sites too (noting that most of his hosted sites PR have returned after the lawsuit ended). So basically if you're going to play with fire don't cry out if you get burned

Last edited by mjr : 09-07-2004 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 09-07-2004   #19
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>> selling of Google's PageRank.

Do you think "content hosting" is the same thing? It's a question of intent, making it impossible to judge really...

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Old 09-07-2004   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick W
>> selling of Google's PageRank.

Do you think "content hosting" is the same thing? It's a question of intent, making it impossible to judge really...

Nick
What matters is what Google thinks. At this point, and maybe unfortunatly, Google has the "big stick" and they're not afraid to use it
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