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Outbound Links! Why?

Success in 12 Months with G. parag G

     
2:56 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In Brett’s post “Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone [webmasterworld.com]”, he writs:

G) Outbound Links:
From every page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is ultra important for the future).

Why is this important? and why is it ultra important for the future?

3:07 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



With Google - you are what your links say you are.
The logical progression of that is to say, you are who you link too. If you link to no one? Then you are no one.

One of the easy ways to define a site, is to see who it links too. If site A links to Blue Widgets, but no links to Red Widget sites, then it must be about Blue Widgets.

That could be context from the link text as they now do with inbound text. If you link out with "blue widget" in all the link text, then it is a pretty good bet, that the page is about "blue widgets".

It could also be contextual in there could be predefined keyword sectors that the destination site is "boxed in". Sometimes referred to as "keyword vectors", or (again) the over used "themes". Under such a scenario, a search engine could already know that "cnn.com" is about "news" and thus sites linking to cnn with the text "green widgets" would need to be discounted.

Using such a system would prevent engines like google from being gamed". The so called RF'ing or blog bombing of Google would be derailed. Under a outbound link contextual system, a link to bill gates home page using the keyword "evil" or "satan" would be discounted. Thus, it would HIGHLY increase relevancy for the engine.

I believe that is one direction search engines must reach to ad more context -- ultimatly relevance -- to their engine. Thus, link out with a quality link on every page.

3:33 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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But wouldn't it make more sense and meet reality better to consider an outbound link an ADDITIONAL resource which is similar but not equal?

In this context I would suggest

widgets.com/blue_widgets.htm

...to link to...

other-widget-resource.com/red_widgets.htm

On top, how many sites link to their DIRECT competitors (competition.com/blue_widgets.htm)?!

I would further suggest the algo to perform similarity calculations of inbound/outbound links to accomplish each other as opposed to shuffle around very similar content which would be rather unnatural and might even be considered spam or feeding duplicate content (inclusing all other bells and whistles like copy and stuff).

Just a thought...

3:50 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So in reality we are not at all talking PageRank and placement her, but rather we are talking consolidation of themes and of key keywords. Still I don’t quit know how it compliments the PageRank. A very important site might not link to anybody or am I wrong?
4:02 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What Brett says makes sense and I know a lot of sites are building outward links purely for this purpose, but I'm a bit uncomfortable about it. If this works then all SEOs will be building links to relevant authority sites in their niche. As the authority sites are unlikely to reciprocate the links isn't it the case that in the long term our sites will lose PR, the authority sites will improve on their (already high) PR, and they will ultimately feature even better in Google?

Also, what's the effect of these outbound links on other SEs? For a given keyword will they consider the linked site as the superior site and place them above the linking site in SERPS?

It is particularly difficult for sites like ours to link out as we are kinda already authority sites on some key phrases. If we have to find relevant sites to link out to ... the only sites we'd find would be direct competitors.

4:12 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Anything that can be abused will be abused.
The art for the SEs will be to detect the really naturally grown linkage and content relations.
4:26 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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An authority site doesn't have to be a competitor ... could be a manufacturer who doesn't sell directly, eBay, or an information site.

On the other hand, I've always thought that sites who were bold enough to link to their competitors show they have nothing to hide - if you offer a superior product, or the same product for a better price, then you would WANT your customer to look at your competitor, even if they're a bigger name than you are, so they can compare and see how much better you are.

The point of the excerpt was to link to someone who already HAS a high PageRank / Position. If they're already number one in searches they can't get any higher - so linking to them won't help them, but it will help YOU get higher.

4:35 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Macro> exactly what I was wondering about

If you are a national business, trading and operating in country only, you could link to the international top site (if your keywords are international). This way you link to an authority sites that operate outside your marked.

4:43 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If site A links to Blue Widgets, but no links to Red Widget sites, then it must be about Blue Widgets.

That may be accurate in some cases, but to suggest it as a universal truth and something an SE algo should rely on is faulty logic.

As adfree suggested, Site A may link to Site B specifically because Site B is "about" something that Site A doesn't offer.

Then you have businesses / web sites with similar names or domain names. You've seen the "Are you looking for XYZ company's web site? We're not them. You can find their site at www.example.com." The link shouldn't imply that the sites are about the same thing, and if the SE algo thinks it does, that's a mistake.

If this works then all SEOs will be building links to relevant authority sites in their niche. As the authority sites are unlikely to reciprocate the links isn't it the case that in the long term our sites will lose PR, the authority sites will improve on their (already high) PR, and they will ultimately feature even better in Google?

Yep, sounds like it to me. So the trick is to make your site the Authority that everyone else wants to link to. :)

5:01 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



An authority site doesn't have to be a competitor ... could be a manufacturer who doesn't sell directly, eBay, or an information site.

The site may not need to be an authority at all. And if you are in control of enough sites, you can, of course, create your own authority sites.

In addition, the links can be placed in DIVS that are subsequently hidden using javascript when the page opens. And, by adding a NOFOLLOW robots meta, you may be able to game the system a little more - that would require some experimentation to find out.

A heavy bias towards outward links is nothing less than a spammer's dream come true.

Kaled.

6:30 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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bufferzone, that's a good point. Alternatively, you could hunt for an academic site or .gov site that covers that KW (if there is one) or - as per digitalv's suggestion - ebay or other site that doesn't sell directly.

digitalv, I'd agree with you about being bold enough to link to competitors but it's not always the best company or the best price that wins. Sometimes clever marketing, big promises, and falsehoods do convert customers. If that's something commonly practised by competitors and not something you will stoop to... you will lose. Linking to competitors is a dangerous game. You wouldn't tell someone who walked into your shop to go next door, would you? You treat him as a guest, give him the information he needs, provide him a fair price and encourage him to take the product to the till.

So the trick is to make your site the Authority that everyone else wants to link to

Funny you should mention that. I see it as a problem. As an authority site on some KWs I find that some companies are setting up what I call spam pages. They choose a keyword, extract title and description from all the sites that come top for that keyword in SERPS, bung all that text on a page on their site, name the page keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.htm and are beginning to feature well on search engines. They are using automated systems to generates thousands of such pages, pretending to be directories, and having their pretty useless pages turning up quite high in SERPS because the pages have loads of the keyword, have the keyword in context (as it's extracted from the description tags and titles), and they have loads of outward links to authority sites. If Google does indeed look kindly on pages because they link out to other relevant sites for that keyword then these cr*p auto generated pages are going to gain a level of importance in SERPS that they don't deserve. Surely that can't be in Google's interest?
6:33 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They choose a keyword, extract title and description from all the sites that come top for that keyword in SERPS, bung all that text on a page on their site, name the page keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.htm and are beginning to feature well on search engines.

Yep, I've seen that, too. My hobby site (about a rock band) is probably the #2 authority site about the band (behind the official site), and I've seen my site victimized by exactly what you just described. That kind of crap may work for now, but I'm sure it won't forever.

6:42 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Actually, I am always going into businesses that suggeat that I might find what I want at a competitor's store. It happens all the time at auto parts stores, and hardware stores. It's all part of how you should make meeting your customer's needs your primary goal.

if you specialize in blue fuzzy widgets, and only blue fuzzy widgets, you might want to suggest that if your customer is interested in generic widgets that they go check out the widgetworld site because they have a great selection, and from your experience, they seem to have great prices and customer service.

6:48 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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BigDAve, your example isn't valid. It refers to sending a customer to another store IF you don't stock what he's looking for. If there were half a dozen shops in your parade all selling blue fuzzy widgets... would you tell him to visit all those shops and come back to you when he's done?
7:14 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If Google does indeed look kindly on pages because they link out to other relevant sites for that keyword then these cr*p auto generated pages are going to gain a level of importance in SERPS that they don't deserve.

Most of such auto generated pages are gone after the last algo tweaks. I'm analyzing this since a couple of weeks now and the only explanation i currently have is the Latent Semantic Indexing & Co [webmasterworld.com] ...

If you generate a page, extract results from a database matching <query>, put <query> in the page title, url and headline, and <query> in most of the outbound links, your page won't get found any longer at google - at least not prominently. As explained in the LSI threads and papers, your <query> would be seen as something like a stop word - and simply filtered out. I know, there's still no proof that Google uses LSI but after running some tests myself, i have the feeling they do use something like LSI.

7:26 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you generate a page, extract results from a database matching <query>, put <query> in the page title, url and headline, and <query> in most of the outbound links, your page won't get found any longer at google - at least not prominently.

In the example I mentioned above, the spammy site is grabbing the <title> from my site and using it as the <title> on their page, and then taking my <title> and making it a word-for-word <H1> that links back to my site. And their page ranks pretty well on certain terms that are in my <title>.

They do this same thing, creating pages for other similar sites, and each of these pages links to the other. But they're all ranking highly because of the outbound links. There's no other content to speak of. Oh. Aside from the affiliate links they're trying to cash in on. :)

7:59 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Most of such auto generated pages are gone after the last algo tweaks.

not in my area <snip>. ALL of the spam directories are still there, and I just saw a new one that shows up for quite a few results.

however, I do agree with you about your LSI points. It is an interesting concept, but too many good sites get thrown out with the others. And unfortunately, it doesn't matter how many webmasters here complain about the new algorithm because Google apparently interprets silence as a nod of approval ("we see 100 people (whiners) dissatisfied with the results over at WW, but XXX million people are NOT complaining, which means that they are happy with the results. A job well done! Crank up the filters!")

Sorry, back on topic. Spam directories with outbound links are the way to go these days. Why? The only reason you need is that "they rank high in Google."

A heavy bias towards outward links is nothing less than a spammer's dream come true.

I tried wearing the white hat, but Google has converted me. Spam is king.

[edited by: Marcia at 6:58 am (utc) on April 9, 2004]
[edit reason] No specifics, please - see TOS. [/edit]

8:08 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



This is a very interesting thread and have done some outbound linking to relevant keywords. The only problem with the keyword I am after is that it means two different things so two different (non relevant) industries are after this same 2 word keyword. The current #1 position for this keyword on google happens to be from a company in the other industry making "purple things" for cars while I am making "purple things" for pizza. There are many more search results for purple things for cars than pizza. If I linked to this site trying to get google to think I am related to this keyword would be a blatant attempt at trying to rank higher for this keyword. Any thoughts about whether it would be good or bad to link to this site. The keyword would be relevant but not the actual site ;)
9:04 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Macro
You can be sure Google is planning to deal with the cr**y sites to which you refer. It may take a few months but I put my money on it.
These machine generated sites don't help punters one iota and in my neck of the woods still hog the top of the Serps.
Regards
Midhurst
10:30 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Directly linking to my competitor from my homepage was my first change post florida (actually Mid-Florida, like 11/16). I won't say it's the reason I'm back higher than before, but....
11:29 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I have a niche news page on my niche domain. I can make any page relevant for the niche, and I can link to my niche news page with "niche news" anchor text, and that will make a difference. But on the news page I link to CNN, the New York Times, etc. etc. This is a clear "news" signal. The news stories I link to do have niche content, and if a search engine is really really really good it would read the target page and conclude "hey, that's niche news." But even without that extra leap, just seeing my page is sending out signals to "news" destinations combines with my own ability to give it "niche" credibility, so that it ranks first for "niche news".

It so happens that the point of this news page is to link to other sites, so it is concidental and not intentional to get the seo benefit, but still it is en excellent example to me of how sending various signals to search engines can help them more accurately judge the content and the merit of the content on a page.

11:33 pm on Apr 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Nice Example.

I have been trying to understand it myself and that makes it a lot easier to understand.

Dos that mean that Semantic Indexing is the reason for the anchor text making that kind of difference?

11:01 am on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



There's a saying "It takes a thief to catch a thief".

I think Google need to employ fewer Ph.D. ostriches and employ a few spammers that have "been there and done that".

Kaled.

11:25 am on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Kaled, I couldn't agree more. Now, who'll come forward with examples of some spam sites he's built? No CV required ;)
3:26 pm on Apr 9, 2004 (gmt 0)



It was my personal observation since the time Google is doing its Google Dance that outward links is important.

I believe that this an important factor in determining the 'hub' or 'authoritativeness' factor of the site.

It's just logical that SEs should consider this in their algo. If they follow external links in order to crawl the web, why not give it an algo score as well?

And, there are those who recognises that there is opportunity on this process thus the proliferation of 'directories'.

The directory might have a commercial agenda like promoting certain site/s or product/s in the guise of being a HUB.

At first glance this might be a problem because they are making money using their listing as a come-on to SEs and users. (Isn't that SEs are doing the same thing?)

But, as long as there is an actual link to outside site/s, the recipient benefit as well from the links, might not be PR transfer but in terms of traffic.

Fact is, my unsolicited traffic from this directories/links (some of you might call it a spam directory) are much higher than the worst commercialize Yahoo.

7:12 pm on Apr 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Just a thought.

Outbound links could be a major part in Semantic indexing. I have just started looking into the hole area of semantic, and outbound links would, of course, say quit a lot about the semantic coherence (for lag of a better word) of your site.

If you are in the Widgets business and want to do well for keywords relevant to Widgets, it is logical that your site link to other sites in the Widgets business. An outbound link to a site about wangers (are we starting a new trend her) might not be helpful and might hurt your position in the semantic hierarchy, where a link to a site about custom paintjobs for Widgets might help, even though this site do not have Widgets as a keyword.

The rely tricky part starts when the inbound links are taken into account, If the SE’s are not careful, you would be able to hurt a site simply by linking to it from sites not relevant to the semantic roam chosen by the webmaster. Lets hope this is not the future

4:17 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If the SE’s are not careful, you would be able to hurt a site simply by linking to it

GG has stated, and I have to assume all SEs understand this, that you cannot control who links to you and how, and so you cannot be hurt by someone linking to you. If the outbound links on another site use anchor text that's not relevant to your site, I'd assume those links just don't offer much credit -- as opposed to offering "negative" credit.

4:51 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think GG actually said that there's 'almost' nothing that a competitor can do to hurt your rankings. I believe theres been some recent discussion on the topic.
6:02 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Think of it in a practical sense relating to life that can be automated to fit googles system.
Spammers are greedy and they hoard page rank.
To combat and prevent this, google algo says those that pass page rank and have relevancy to what their page is about and to who they link to, based on anchor text link and this method doesnot allow you to affect the person you link to.
That is my opinion!
10:28 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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On the subject of outbound links; is there a recommended number of words that should be used to describe the site? As a percentage of the keywords that you are focusing on? For example, if my site is focused on blue widgets and I have found another site that also sells or is related to blue widgets, should my outbound link just use the keyword phrase as the anchor text? "Blue widgets" or perhaps "Find blue widegets here" or maybe, " Another resource for buying blue widgets can be found here"? I am already assuming that all of the text should be included in the link to their page. If I am wrong and you recommend just a plain text description, please speak up. Thanks.
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