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mr_dredd, checking the web page themes [searchengineworld.com] tool was what opened my eyes about something that was happening.
Much to my surprise, one day I found my portfolio page come up under a couple of search terms for sites linked to. When I checked the themes inspector, I learned that my page/site showed a theme relative to the broad category covering about half the outbound links on that particular page. If this hurt me I'd change it, but it isn't so far.
So what I then did, first thing, was tweak the page on my site a bit and put up a link to the beginnings of a new site I'm working on that is consistent with that same overall theme - which links back to the index page of the first one, of course - and wait to see the results of listings for the new site.
After seeing the listings for the newly listed site at 3 different search engines (Google, AV and MSN), surprisingly close numerically but handled in different ways, the next thing I did was head over and start digging through again the forum that has the search engine research [webmasterworld.com] information.
I'm convinced of the value of this, if used legitimately and if relevancy is carefully maintained.
>what about the overal "theme" of the linking website and not just the linking page - does anyone know if this plays a part????:)
OK..the site that linked back to my portfolio page, which got listed under the same category, at # 11, is small, but themed - obviously adding to the ranking of the portfolio page with the reciprocal link. They fed each other. Perhaps that is why the portfolio page made it. The link to the client site from the web design site is only relevant on part of the linking out page, but there was a reciprocity working - the site linking back was themed, so the page linked back to got a boost. Does this make sense?
This issue I can't comment on beyond conjecture and my own observation, except to venture a guess and point you to where to do some reading, because it would depend on the algorithm of the particular search engines in question and whether they're themes-based.
Since Google is the only one I am aware of that is reliable to deep-crawl sites, I imagine they would be most likely to take the entire site into consideration - particularly after the recent much-publicized RFing incident. Check the Google forum for that thread, there is a lot of insight on linking that thread.
If you'll look through the research forum, and read up on hubs and authorities, it certainly would stand to reason that theoretically, the whole site would be taken into consideration for the link out to have maximum weight. It's not a matter of qualifying as a hub or an authority, but rather the underlying principle of overall relevancy of the site.
A link from an "authoritative" site certainly would carry more weight. I have seen this myself, with links from a certain craft mall that not only has hundreds of sites linked out to, but all those link back - and a link from there does wonders, in addition to bringing traffic on its' own merit.
Another element to look at with this issue is the weighting of other types of links, and their relation to theming. For example, why would a link from Yahoo carry a hundred times more weight than a plain, ordinary link? Perhaps it's because it's assumed, and figured into the algorithm, that each site placed in the directory is thoroughly pre-screened to be put into the relevant category, and is therefore assumed in advance to be contributory to the theming of a site. If it qualifies for inclusion in a certain category, surely it must all be on topic. Hence the boost in ranking for the link.
Also, for a site not in the Yahoo directory, a relevant link from a site that is can boost ranking. It's not quite linear, but in looking to get links, I would most certainly try and hope to get links from themed sites with overall relevancy. I'm personally too mingy to give a link out when the recip is of no value.
So finally, after digressing, what's on the linking out page counts, and I believe if the entire site is contributory, the link will probably carry even more weight.
joined:Nov 11, 2000
Ever since an Inktomi rep told me that they looked at the page context of links coming to you... the anchor text and the surrounding text... I've tried to get inbound links, if at all possible, to have a little description, 10 to 12 words if I can get them, containing my main target phrases, beneath or following my anchor text. (Since Brett's very important article on theming, these have become theming phrases.) Whether this can be done in part depends on the format of links page on the site that's linking to you.
joined:Sept 1, 2000
When looking for partners I go for those who are already listed in ODP, Yahoo, Looksmart etc and come up with a good page rank at Google. I know these are the best to go after because they are strong to begin with.
I also look for partners that have a good link page set up for my link. Particularly of interest is that it is on theme for the link.
To respond to mr_dredd original question I believe a well optimized link page can work for you beyond it's purpose to hold links. Great meta tags, and image with an alt tag, a great theme related keyword rich title and a couple of equally strong h2 headings never hurt. A bit of text up top that's also keyword rich is good. Plus never forget the internal linking. Make sure the link page is linked well and appropriately with the rest of your site.
If someone comes through your link page to get to you be sure you lead them to your homepage right from the beginning so make the first link on your list back to you.
Hope this helps a bit.
In my case I was the one who put the other little sites together in the first place, so it was built right in to begin with - what happened was a surprise.
paynt's advice is great, and very comprehensive about the links page and picking linking partners.
>>If someone comes through your link page to get to you be sure you lead them to your homepage right from the beginning so make the first link on your list back to you.
Slapping forehead on this one!! It's possible that the link at the top of the page is the reason the linking page comes up under the category it does - but it never occurred to me to link within the site first thing - let's see what that will do with a specific phrase :)
The interesting thing about doing this is the number of people who will put the code on their site, but never ask for a reciprocal link.