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What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
SEO is improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site or page from the search engines using natural organic and algorithmic search results (SERPs).

SEO is actually a component of SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Which encompasses many avenues with which to promote a web site or page.
If you have come here looking for SEO help, you have found a blog that can help you. There is much information here to be held and please feel free to comment anytime...Even with a question.

July 1, 2007

Determining the Value of your Backlinks? Shooting for Higher PageRank.

The value of a website's backlinks have been a greatly under fire yet relatively undiscovered territory. First lets clear up exactly what a backlink or IBL(In Bound Link) is:

Backlink: incoming links to a website or web page. The number of backlinks is an indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page.

So to begin to determine the value of you links, let us explore how they are used by Google and Yahoo for the purpose of rank and prowess.

Google's PageRank algorithm uses backlinks to help determine a site's serps or rank. It is very well known that Google places the highest priority and weight on links. That was the basis of the engine's original mission to begin with. This page has a run down of most of the engines still around and their bio information.

Google started as a Stanford University research project for Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1997. It was originally designed to index on the basis of inbound links, and still relies quite heavily on this factor. Right now Google is top dog with an estimated 55% of all Internet searches.

Google has begun to devalue IBLs from the same domain/IPs, reciprocal links carry little or no weight, and paid links can even hurt you. They are striving to produce the most relevant results based on their original mission or algorithm, by forcing organic links. You can read here what Matt Cutts says about the value of backlinks using Google's backlink tool in the Webmasters tools.

Yahoo on the other hand, place much greater emphasis and weight on the contents/text of each page. Ideally if you are doing good organic SEO these 2 engines will rank you similarly, as your links should be relevant with proper anchor text as a result of the page content to begin with. Yahoo has a well known paid inclusion process, so you can pay to rank in Yahoo.

So when I set out to write this piece I intended it to be a guideline to help determine the "value" of backlinks for the generic term "engines". After research and thought, I will break it down for Yahoo, and Google. Before I start I will say this, if you are doing the right organic things to achieve good serps and PageRank on Google, then Yahoo should not be a problem or require much extra effort. Please understand also that NO ONE really knows for sure how this is done, and there will be sites that rank well without links possibly because of a really small niche or "pond". The reverse can also be true, a site with a ton of backlinks may not rank well, because the links are low value.

Determining the Value of a Google Backlink:

  1. Google place its highest weight on organic properly anchored IBLs. These are links that are occurring "naturally". The theory is, if your content is good then another sites backlink will be natural and related to the quality of the content of your site; they linked to you for no profit or return for themselves.
  2. Links from .mil, .gov, .edu., and even .org are rated of a higher value due to the prospective nature of a site with a TLD in those areas. I would expect Google to begin to remove some value from .org as it is becoming highly abused, due to the lack of classification knowledge for TLDs.
  3. Google places much more trust in "older" sites than any of the other engines.
  4. They will penalize a site for duplicate content on an extremist level. So backlinks from penalized sites will be discounted from your IBL score. Here is a relative guide to the things Google is seeing as duplicate content.
  5. An excessive amount low quality links can make your site less likely to be crawled deep or even included in the index. It also reduces your IBL relevancy percentage, which doesn't hurt you, but alternately a high relevancy score is believed to help you.
  6. Social bookmarks do not perform as well in Google as they do in Yahoo.
  7. Google is known to devalue or completely toss out non relevant backlinks when they score/tally up your backlinks. It is actually reported here that a very fast accumulation of non relevant backlinks to a site can get you penalized by Google, they look at it as you out there spamming your site. At the very least this practice will throw up the red flag and have Google looking closer.
  8. Google devalues your forum "sigs" and post links, I would suggest you keep your "sigs" relevant to the forum for the best results.
  9. This is a much disputed issue, but it would appear that multiple IBLs from the same IP/Domain are devalued or completely discounted. Here are several resources( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) I suggest you read them and make your own determination. In essence the links from same IP addresses will be devalued in some way, but there is much debate on how and how much. Google's algorithm called Hilltop that looks for relationships between sites and determines if IBLs have common IP address.
  10. PDF links do not generally show up as backlinks, the html version does however if it is linked.
  11. IBLs from pages with (a disputable number) more than 20 to 100 outbound links will generally be devalued.
  12. Image links vs Text links. It appears that from a "clicks" view that well a designed image link tends to provide more traffic, however especially if they lack "alt" text they do not seem to rank/perform as well.
  13. Links from sites with high PageRank are better, especially if they meet the requirements stated above. In other words, if its a purchased will be tossed out the same as if it was a natural free link with no regard for PageRank.

Determining the Value of a Yahoo Backlink:

  1. Yahoo is looking at your link quality as well, now more than ever. However, Yahoo will tend to be more flexible and forgiving of our linking "sins".
  2. Links from .mil, .gov, .edu., and even .org are rated of a higher value due to the prospective nature of a site with a TLD in those areas.
  3. A site with a high percentage of categorical IBLs will rank just a well as a site with a high volume of IBLs.
  4. Yahoo doesn't seem to be devaluing purchased and reciprocal link.(yet)
  5. In Yahoo even sites tagging your link with a "nofollw" tag can be helpful to your site's reputation.
  6. Yahoo also seems to value IBLs from its own "paid inclusion" sites with some bias.
  7. When you break and unknown but large plateau (around 500) of the number of IBLs, Yahoo tends to pay less attention to the quality of the links. This may be an inefficient crawling problem, but none the less true.
  8. Sites with extremely long variables in the URL don't seem to get crawled properly, so if the page you are link building on has one you could be affected.
  9. Yahoo backlink scores for the same site will generally be a much higher number that Google, because the devalue less.
  10. Yahoo seems to devalue IBLs coming in to forums and discussion threads, or at least not count them all.
  11. Anchor text density is a huge factor Yahoo uses to determine the value of a link.
  12. Yahoo is far more likely to give good representation to a IBL from a higher PageRank than your own, these are a "ladder" system for games. Additionally, a sites PageRank does tend to a link valued higher, even if they are below you.
  13. Yahoo will value your "social bookmarking" links much higher than Google. This is also a "legal" way to swap links....bookmark all your pages in for example, then swap lists with another webmaster.
  14. Yahoo also seems to be devaluing if not penalizing same IP/C block domain IBLs.
  15. In essence Yahoo seems to be learning to be more like Google, but alot of backling schemes will still work quite effectively.....even if they get you banned from Google.

I hope you found this article helpful, and I am certain there is substantially more information to present...I tried to keep it as simple as possible. If you have more information please feel free to comment, as always. Again, this is a theory, even if it is research based.....not to mention what works today could fail you tomorrow. Just stay on top of things and read a lot!

Peace and SEO