Link building is the most important part of search engine optimization activity targeting the Google search engine. As an overview, this search engine relies on links to determine the reputation of the page. This is analogous to citations in the world of scientific or academic papers. A single quality and relevant link from a trusted and authoritative source is equivalent to thousands of low-quality and irrelevant links.
It is common sense that links from these types of sources are desirable because they are powerful. Sources of such links speak with authority and are popular and expert in their own fields. Therefore if you get references from these types of documents, there is something in your work that catches their attention, and in the long run, you may become trusted and authoritative also.
For example, in the scientific or academic environment, scientists and scholars often cite each other in research papers, to give reference or acknowledge a certain source. Of course, the more trusted and authoritative the source, the higher the number of citations it receives from other published scientific or academic works.
One example of this is Albert Einstein’s paper on the Theory of Relativity, where Einstein cited Isaac Newton’s Universal Laws of Gravitation. The same concept works when applied to the online world. Quality documents are referenced by other quality and relevant documents.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, researchers from Stanford University, translated this very simple analogy of finding quality documents in the academic world into an application in the online world, resulting in the birth of Google and its algorithm: Page rank. Google then leads the multi-billion dollar search industry that still remains strong even today (2009).
This article aims to educate the search engine optimization community as to what particular qualities or factors the search engines used to rate the quality of the linking page in assessing back links.
Do not get me wrong, but if you like to get quality links, you must get them from a related web page. Why? Google (and other search engines such as Yahoo and MSN) aims at giving its users a satisfying search experience on the web, and as we all know, the web is powered by hyperlinks.
If certain documents on a certain topic are linking out to irrelevant documents, this can result in a poor user experience. This is because the flow of thoughts and knowledge is being cut off. Sometimes a visitor will need to look at several web pages to be convinced and feel confident of the knowledge acquired from them. Below is a simple diagram of a web surfer’s learning process for a certain topic in which he or she is interested:
It starts when a web surfer likes to find information about Topic “X.” If the user does not have any bookmarked pages to look for that information, he/she will use the Google search engines to look for the relevant topic.
When search engines give the most relevant search results, the web surfer will click on that link from the search results page and then start reading. Now if the web surfer finds that information to be insufficient, he or she will look for relevant information by clicking on the most relevant link that matches his or her query.
What is the lesson? If Google does not evaluate links in terms of relevance, it will tend to return pages that are neither referenced from related sources nor linking out to related websites. This will not return the most relevant pages, which will affect the user’s experience.
The relevance of the page is therefore the most important inbound linking factor. It directly relates to the user’s satisfaction level. The user does not have any SEO knowledge to assess whether the page is an authority, but he does read the content and decide if it answers the query.
It makes sense that the relevance of the page will surely get a high rating in Google’s algorithm. Again, beware of paid posts and paid links, as you can easily get links from relevant pages by means of sponsorship. Organic links from related pages get referenced naturally. This means that the link itself is part of the web page’s content. Without it, the document cannot stand by itself.
This is an easy distinction between paid and organic links. It is possible to comprehend and read the page’s content without the paid or advertisement links. But it is impossible to thoroughly understand the page’s content without the organic links supporting it.
Of course, if a certain relevant page links out to a single page (no other external links to other domains can be found on the page), then that target page must be of absolute importance. If a certain document links out to several web pages, then the location of the links on the linking page itself determines the importance and value of that link. If the link appears on a prominent part of the web page, it’s more important than one that appears in the footer section. If a link appears in the page’s content itself, it is more valuable than one that appears in the sidebar or navigation.
A spammy link page, like that of a link farm or low quality directory, consists of hundreds or thousands of links on the page. This is because this type of page exists not to satisfy users, but just for search engine purposes. As a result, this type of link is awarded zero value by Google search engines. If you get links from these types of sources, they are useless and a waste of time.
If you completely understand the mathematics behind Page Rank, you will be amazed; if a certain page has fewer external links, then the link density is very high, and this means it carries more Page Rank weight.
Google Page Rank, as the patent suggests, is a measure of the importance of the page. It is used to assess the quality of a linking page, when combined with content relevance factors as discussed above.
For example if we were to design a link algorithm to evaluate page relevance and importance, then it might be:
Rating of Page Rank (importance): 1 to 10 (where 1 is least importance and 10 to absolute importance)
Rating of Page Relevance (content): 1 to 10 (where 1 is least relevance and 10 is a perfect match for the query)
Then the relevance rating based on these two factors might be:
Relevance rating = Page Rank x Page Relevance
As we expect, quality related documents are rated by both page importance and relevance. It is a clear objective for search engines to return a page that is both important and relevant.
As we have previously discussed, links from trusted and authoritative websites will get a higher value in search engines algorithm. But why?
Search engines believe that experience is the best teacher, so if a certain website has been in existence for a long time (old domain), the knowledge and expertise it displays in that specific topic is very solid and profound when compared to young domains. But an old domain alone does not equal a site with trust and authority. The domain should also be highly referenced by other sources. To measure this quantitatively is to directly see the Page Rank of the home page.
Page Rank is also the measure of the incoming links to the page. The higher the number of links, the higher the Page Rank will be. Or if a certain domain is being referenced by high Page Rank domains, it will also get a higher Page Rank through its very nature (a link from an important page will make your page important also).
Other factors associated with trusted and authoritative websites, aside from domain Page Rank and age of domain, include the size of the domain. Frequently updating a certain domain will make the website grow bigger with each update, so after years of existence the website will become very big and will be able to provide lots of useful information.
Summary of the overall desirable factors in a link
To sum up, below are the most important factors for which major search engines (Google in particular) will give a higher rating pertaining to the quality of the link:
1. Relevance of the page – Links from a relevant page help both search engines and users find the information they need.
2. Number of links in the page - A lower number of links ensures that the link itself is more important and become an indispensable part of the content.
3. Trust and authority of the domain – Links from expert sites mean that your website is deemed important and contains highly valued content. A vote from important sites will also make your site important and be valued by search engines.
Mathematically it can be:
Inbound link rating = (Relevance of the page x Trust/Authority factor of the domain)/ (Number of links on the page)
If you are doing link building, go for these types of links. It is not as easy as it sound, because you must pass their content quality standards. Good luck!