April 8, 2009
For years, it has been well known that Google’s search algorithm is driven by the number and quality of links pointing to a particular URL. And as a result, it was all the rage for some time to buy links on web pages that had a high Google PageRank (PR).
But in March of 2007, Google’s mouthpiece Matt Cutts declared that Google was going to fight back against Paid Links. Google put a shot across the bow of many online marketers, letting them know that the days of easily buying links from high PageRank pages in order to influence a website’s ranking in Google were over.
The Shot Heard Around The World
With Matt Cutts declaration, a world full of online marketers began to cry foul. It was said that “They can’t do that!”
But the truth was and is that the Google Search Algorithm is Google’s intellectual property, and therefore, Google can do anything they want within their algorithms – no matter who those changes might hurt or help.
By the end of the Summer of 2007, the people crying foul had quieted down a bit and got back to the business of trying to find new ways to manipulate their website’s rankings inside of the Google search results. That is the way it has always been and always will be.
The summer of 2007 was just such an oddity… For me, it has always been exciting to challenge the brains at Google to get my websites to rank well within Google’s search algorithms. But for some reason, at that moment in time, many of those who held the top rankings in Google felt as if it was their God-given right to be at the top of Google’s search results, and how dare Google oppose God’s decree in this matter.
Yep, I know I am going to catch flak for that statement – comparing a few webmasters to religious zealots – but that is how I roll sometimes.
For me, Matt Cutts was telling people to work harder to actually “earn” what they have been given. For me, it was a chance to rededicate myself to the goal of ranking well in Google for competitive keywords. For me, I did not have to change anything I was already doing, because I have never gained a single ranking in Google by paying for a link from any web page. (wink)
Google’s Search Engineers Are Not Foolish
Matt Cutts has said time and again that Google does not want to attack any problem in their search algorithms by manually deleting any participant in the Google search ranking game.
Instead, Google in every case wants to program a solution to address a particular bad practice.
I guess it might be easier for me to understand since I am also a computer programmer. It is a hobby I really enjoy, and I exercise my mind with computer programming anytime I want to improve my own websites or to build a new website. I keep my brain sharp by solving problems in computer code.
So, whenever I see Google making moves in one direction or another, I try to visualize how I would solve their algorithm problems in computer code.
In my mind, solving the paid links issue was a super-easy solution. Just look at the pages linking to a particular website, and then do a cross-comparison of the PageRank of all of those linking pages. If all of the pages linking to a particular URL have a PageRank of Four or higher, then chances are that those links were artificially created, through some kind of paid linking system.
Let me explain this in an example, where all of the sample web pages have 100 inbound links each:
- If Site A has all of its 100 links on pages that have a PageRank of 4 or higher, then that is unnatural and therefore suspect.
- If Site B has all of its 100 links on pages that have a PageRank of 0, then those links offer no value to the Internet community as a whole, and therefore Site B should not measured as a quality search result.
- If Site C has a mix of PageRank 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 links, then that is more natural in its structure and it also shows that some of the links are considered to have value in the Internet community as a whole. Therefore, Site C has proven itself worthy above Site A and Site B in Google’s search results.
This example should show in no uncertain terms how easy it was for Google to properly address the issue of paid links and to put a stop to people using paid links to manipulate their websites’ ranking in Google’s search algorithms.
A couple years back, I wrote another article discussing this concept in relationship to article marketing. You can read that article with third-party commentary from Chris McElroy, aka NameCritic, on the Article Content Provider Blog.
In a nutshell, I was discussing the role of article directories in the article marketing industry. Again, this solution came to me from my programming mind. The simple way for Google to have dealt with all of the junk articles that have been written for the purpose of building links to a website is to look at the article in the context of where that article is published.
The article marketing carpet bombers send their articles to hundreds of article directories to get hundreds of links pointing to their website. But the role of the article directory has always been to be a repository where newsletter publishers and webmasters could go to find articles that they would like to reprint in their own newsletters and on their own websites.
Some article directory managers bring a commitment to providing publishers with only quality articles. Other article directory managers approve anything and everything sent to them.
Through computer programming, it is relatively easy to identify which websites are article directories and which ones are not.
If an article is of good quality, then niche website publishers will find the article and put it on their own website. If the article is a crap article, then the only websites that will accept it are those article directories that publish anything and everything given to them.
As a result, it is easy for Google to look at the Linking Portfolio (list of publishing websites) of a single article and to see which articles were considered worthy of reprint by human reviewers. If the article only exists on article directory websites, then the article must not provide any real value to other people. But if the article is of good quality, the article will be able to be located on article directories AND on niche websites.
This concept very elegantly feeds into Google’s overall strategy of determining which web pages people recommend to others. After all, if you look at Google’s PageRank, it is very simply a system which measures how many people have voted on the quality or value of a particular web page.
Expanding On Google’s PageRank Formula
- Google loves any system that they can conceive to measure how much value the overall Internet community gives to a particular web page.
- Google naturally treats links found in the Yahoo! Business Directory and the Open Directory as higher value links, because the search engineers at Google understand that links in these directories are all approved by a human being.
- Google also gives extra value to social bookmarking websites, because the concept behind social bookmarking is that individuals “bookmark” a web page when they find that web page to offer good value to its readers.
- Google openly dislikes paid links and can easily identify those paid links, without having to jump through too many hoops. (This should not be confused with paying for a service that will help you increase your rankings in Google. Paying a service provider to provide services to you is very different than just paying for links on high PageRank web pages.)
- Google also appreciates reprint articles that have a Linking Portfolio beyond the article directories. Once again, Google appreciates reprint articles that are shown to provide real value to individuals in the greater Internet community.
When you take a close look at the original premise of Google’s PageRank, it has always been about creating systems that measure the value of a web pages to find which web pages will best answer a searcher’s question. Rightfully so, Google believes that the best way to ensure that they are able to give their users good quality search results is to look at what web pages others have already deemed useful.
Herein rests the secret to ranking well in Google’s search results. If you can create content that people will find useful, interesting, and valuable to others, then Google’s seach algorithms will look favorably upon your website.
Bill Platt has written about SEO and article marketing for a number of years. As the owner of http://www.linksandtraffic.com/ Bill has also been providing search engine optimization services to his clients for a number of years. If you are currently spending at least $1000 per month on pay-per-click search advertising, you owe it to yourself to review and consider Bill’s Performance Based SEO Service at: http://linksandtraffic.com/seo-services/search-marketing.html