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April 6, 2009

Google Strikes Again! Why Your Links Are Now Worthless

It is no secret that Google shifted from content based ranking to link based several years ago. The way most people discovered this was by seeing their pages disappear from top ten placements overnight. Unfortunately that same lesson is being re-taught today as Google shifts from an “all link” model of determining popularity to one of “inbound only.”

It should not come as a big surprise. It’s been happening slowly for the past year or so but is now in overdrive. Pages that have dominated top spots for years are suddenly disappearing without a trace and linking is the key. In short, reciprocal links no longer count as they once did. Google expects to see one way inbound links in its top ranked sites. The reason apparently being that worthy sites can attract links without having to reciprocate.

Talk about a popularity contest! It reminds me of junior high school on Valentines Day where the most popular students would be buried in cards while sending out only a few of their own. Google even refers to inbound links as a form of “votes.”

So how does Google judge the value of inbound links? Let’s just say a nod from the prom king or queen is a lot more desirable than one from the kid who had to escort his first cousin to the last school dance due to lack of options. But even still, every vote counts even if just a little.

I agree that it is sad and unfair that quality of content counts for so little but Google, perhaps naively, believes the links (or votes) will go to the most deserving sites naturally. I can’t change Google’s mind, but I can help you crack Google’s link value code. Just follow these simple steps.

First: Know your link targets. You want pages whose topics relate to your topic and with the highest PR possible.

Note: PR refers to Google PageRank which is a value assigned to the page on a scale of 1 to 10. Pages begin at 0 and earn PR points for various reasons. There are plenty of ones and twos but anything above three gets scarcer and more valuable. You can easily find a page’s PageRank by using the Google Toolbar available at http://toolbar.google.com.

Second: Forget about just linking to the home page. Google now prefers deep links so make the majority of your links go to pages at least one level deep below the home page. And be sure that page is named after its main keyword, such as “main-keyword.htm” or “main-keyword.htm.”

Third: Make sure the pages you are linking to, link back to your home page by using their main keyword as anchor text.

Note: Anchor text is simply a clickable text link. It is usually a different color; such as blue and underlined to show it is a link. You want your main keyword to be a clickable link leading from the topic page to the home page.

Fourth: Be sure the inbound links you build consist of your main keywords embedded in anchor text.

Recap: So if “online business services” was the main keyword the words “online business services” would be embedded as anchor text leading to a page called “online-business-services.htm” and that page would in turn link to the home page using “online business services” as its anchor text link.

Fifth: Google scans not only the area immediately surrounding the anchor text but also the whole page of text around it. It will be looking for consistency of topic throughout the page so be sure your link is coming from a page closely related to the topic of the keyword you are targeting.

Note: This last part is crucial because if you can control what is on the page you get links from, you can rocket to the top of Google. This can be done through blog postings, article publishing and even simple directory submission. If you are in a hurry, try a pre-packaged solution that removes the guesswork. I use a combo training and automated software system called “Link A Minute” (http://www.linkaminute.com) that does the trick for me. There are good ones out there so hunt around and find one you like. Just do not try any link farms if you value any future placement on Google.

Follow these tips and you can steal a top spot on Google in no time.


Margo Little is a successful SEO marketing consultant who got her start in 1997. Today SEOSoftwareSurvey.com benefits from her knowledge. From finding a killer suite to a simple keyword tool, she can help.

13 Responses to “Google Strikes Again! Why Your Links Are Now Worthless

    avatar Aman says:

    I really liked your tip about search engine scanning for the relevant keywords around the whole web page rather than just the area around the link.

    avatar Firas says:

    How to use the Google toolbar to find the Page Rank of the visited pages?

    avatar Club Penguin says:

    useful information, especially about the deep linking within your own site.

    avatar Joe Blow says:

    This information isn’t new.. Reciprocal links have been dead for a long time.

    avatar Video Blogging says:

    Awesome, like you said, the writing has been on the wall for a while, and it only makes sense.

    I guess one way links seem more natural, and thats’ cool, it’s just good to see folks talking about it.

    Linking to internal pages is definitely where it’s at, but I hadn’t been linking back to the home page with the same keyword, thanks for that tip.

    avatar Diaper says:

    It is very hard to judge which link is valuable, your tips are useful

    good article, although it is difficult to persuade 3rd parties to link to you with the right anchor text – they all want to use “click here”…

    avatar More inbound links, better the site’s rank « says:

    […] sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages. Margo Little of SiteProNews in his article says, Google shifts from an “all links” model of determining popularity to one […]

    avatar wie bali says:

    so hard to judge our link popularities, thanks for the tips

    avatar yourpromobuddy says:

    Great read!

    avatar michaelj72 says:

    thanks for the reminders. and the new bit about the google scan of the whole page that the text is on. the closer that page ‘resembles’ the anchor text, the more valuable the link becomes

    avatar Courtland says:

    I really like this article, this is the fifth time I came back to this post in the last two months. I have recommended this link to my other friends

    Thank you for making us aware of this. Good stuff to know.

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