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Incoming links

most important?

2:24 am on Jul 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Are lots of incoming links the best way to get a good position on google? And does it matter where those sites are located, like if they're on a smaller engine compared to yahoo? Thanks.
5:50 am on July 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well this is kind of a classic question about how Google (and most search engines) works. You might want to check out the excellent Google FAQ [webmasterworld.com] posted on this site. But two main things to keep in mind:
  • the content of a page matters more than anything, and I think it may be easy to forget that.
  • the "quality" of the pages linking to your page are important. Google measures quality using PageRank; a high PR page that links to a page on your site imbues that page with some of its goodness.
  • The text of links from one source page to another target is usually added to the content on the target page.

So getting the right links to your pages helps "pass PR" goodness, but also helps add to your content, so are very important. But without the actual page content itself, you may as well not bother with links.

Your page content lets Google and all SEs determine if your page is relevant to the query being submitted. But most queries are just a couple words, so amongst all of the pages out there SEs have to figure out which ones are the best.

Content is the first means of doing this: pages that mention the search term multiple times (amongst the larger context of the page, not just over and over), where terms are emphasized, as in the title, headings and bold text, where terms are in the same order as the query, how recently the page changed, and many, many other factors cause a page to get a good score. And pages that have links from other pages whose linked text contains matches to the query terms are also counted and provide even more weight.

Still, SEs still needs to figure out how to rank the possible matches when there are more than one that all score about the same, which is almost always. PR is another factor, which will certainly break a tie, and maybe a lot more.

It seems to me that a while back, PR was a hugely significant factor in determining placement -- Google feels that a page linked to by many other pages is more popular, and hence more likely to be a good choice, all other things being similar. High PR sites with less good content matches might do better.

But knowing this, many people start going out and getting links, right? "Organic" links from other great sites who just think your site is great would be the best (and are the ideal probably envisioned by Google), but they are often difficult to distinguish from links people buy. Or manufacture on other sites they own or manage. Or post on Blogs. Or scores of other ways to snooker the search engine.

So it seems that PR is less important than it might once have been because it is a less good indicator of true goodness. But I think now it is critically important to avoid the appearance of doing something sneaky. Whether you intend to do something sneaky is unimportant; if it looks that way, you could be in trouble. I speak from experience here; one of our sites recently was banned for doing something bad, it seems, although we have very little idea of what exactly it was :) It doesn't matter how many sites link to you if Google has decided that your site's pages are bad.

Content first, links second.

6:38 am on July 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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

joined:Apr 14, 2003
votes: 16

You need links. It is best to get links from higher PR sites. Lots of low PR links and lots of links from one site does not hurt either. Lots of little links helps with anchor text so have them go to a page you are trying to get ranked.