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Published by: Naughtygadget on May 22, 2009
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Links-based analysis forms the core of search engine algorithms – even the site-based factors mentioned in the
previous section are based one way or the other on links.

Now while I do not want you to start obsessing about links – worrying about SEO will not help when you already
know what to do and how to do it (through this book) – it is very important to have a clear idea of what link-
based factors are important for your site’s search engine rankings.

Looking to build links? Make sure you read the following, as well as the chapter on evaluating links, first.


Link Age

As search engines evolve and try to filter spam out of their search results, one measure of authority and quality
in links as been link age – the time since that search engine first discovered that link.

This ties into our earlier Sandbox discussions closely – older, established websites generally have a mixture of
aged links, well-linked internal pages and some measure of topical authority assigned to them. If search engines
are to use that generic profile as a minimum threshold of trust then quality links from topically-related sites must
also age before they can deliver their full benefits.

Another aspect of link age has to do with trusting the permanence of a link (editorial citation) itself. For
better or worse, older links are given more importance because they imply a long-term citation – whether this
is because the website owner has forgotten about that page or it is a manual decision to keep that link is a
different story.

Link Growth

Does a website continue to accrue links over a period of time? Does a web page continue to do the same?

A web page / web site that keeps acquiring links (editorial citations) is a strong indicator that the information is
still relevant and useful – keys to establishing authority.

Search engines are very effective at measuring rates of link growth and in analyzing whether those patterns are
natural or artificial.

One drawback of this approach is that the popular sites continue to accrue links (as more and more people find
them and link to them) while equally valuable (or even more valuable), less popular websites fail because few
people find / link to them.

Anchor text of link

The anchor text is used to describe the destination of a link – so a link to a web page that has reviews on
Bluetooth headsets would ideally have ‘Bluetooth headset reviews’ in its anchor text.

Search engines use anchor text to determine how linking websites describe topics of certain links. Since this is
a factor that can easily be gamed, I think that search engines combine their trust of a link with how much weight
they give to the anchor text.

Not only is the anchor text important but also the content surrounding the link – as those are often used to
describe the link much more effectively than the anchor text itself.

Topical authority of linking page

As discussed earlier, topical authority is determined by aggregating the value of editorial citations to that page,
both from within the topical community and outside it.

This is a tighter method of establish authority than simply using PR or the topical authority of the website
hosting the page (although those two impact link value as well).


Topical authority of site of linking page

Same as above, except that this is applied to the website instead of the individual page.

Topical relevance of linking page

Established by:

Analyzing the content of the linking page

Analyzing the link profile of that page to determine the key subject matter of that page

All other factors being equal, links from closely-related pages are more valuable than off-topic pages.

Topical relevance of site of linking page

Same as above, except that this is applied to the website instead of the individual page.

PR of linking page

The link popularity of the linking page has a direct impact on the value of the links that page creates.

PR of site of linking page

Same as above, except that this is applied to the website instead of the individual page.

Degree of editorial citation

To simplify – the degree of trust the search engine can accord a particular link based on how it is used on the

The navigation menu of a page has obvious importance, so links in that menu (usually internal pages) are
trusted implicitly, even if they are not necessarily what you’d call ‘in-context’.

A list of links in the sidebar might have little importance if there is no editorial content surrounding them –
mainly because these are not links that are considered important to the site’s functions.

In-context links are important but two things have to be taken care off – topical relevance and the history of the
site itself. Sites with a good linking history can even have their link-lists categorized as trusted links, while sites
with poor a linking history will have their in-context links discounted as well.


Co-Citation is a method used to establish a topical similarity between two items (in our case, two web pages or
two websites).

For example, if A and B are both cited (linked to) by C, they may be said to be related to one another even if
they do not link to each other directly. If A and B are both cited by many other pages, they have a ‘stronger’
relationship – i.e. they are considered very similar. This similarity can be used to determine the quality /
trustworthiness of a page / website / source.


How does this affect your link building practices?

In-context links are important, but it’s equally important to target websites that regularly reference the top
authorities in your topical niche and avoid the non-topical, non-authoritative sites. In other terms, get links from
websites that link to the top sites in your niche.

Now that we have a basic understanding of how search engines work and what the main search ranking factors
are, we can move on to the nitty-gritty of running an SEO campaign.

The next chapter will tell you more about what’s in store.


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