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Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Daily Feed Issue #10: The rules of linking

I'll be away until Sunday. Since I'm free at the airport, I'll advance post up some interesting sharing. Will be up whole week :D Hope it helps you in gaining the traffic you always wanted ;)

Welcome to Issue #10 of The Daily Feed. If this email was forwarded to you by a friend, you can subscribe on this page.

Just a quick note on our book due this week titled "The little black book of free online marketing. From launch to your first 5,000 visitors per day and beyond". After a long weekend of work we've made the call to delay it an additional week. We're going to be adding more material including a bonus section and we also want to allow more time for editing.

I did promise you something special this week, so Tuesday (tomorrow) morning's edition will have a surprise and you're going to have to wait until then to find out what it is.

This week I'm covering the last and most powerful part of the SEO philosophy I introduced you to last week. My SEO philosophy in case you are one of the 3049 new subscribers we've gotten since Friday's issue went out is:

"Create new, unique and useful web pages, host them on a user-friendly website that Google can understand and make sure the right people know about them."

Today I'm covering "make sure the right people know about them". Having valuable content that is new, unique, useful, user-friendly and that a search engine can understand is great. But there are millions of websites out there that have all these basic ingredients. So how does Google, Yahoo, Bing and friends determine which websites should rank higher than others, assuming all on-site factors are equal? By using a kind of reputation system.

Each search engine has it's own algorithm for figuring out your reputation. I'm going to focus on Google exclusively because 80% to 90% of your search engine traffic will come from Google.

In the beginning - meaning 1996 when Google launched as "Backrub" at Stanford, Larry And Sergey used an algorithm called Pagerank to rank web pages. Previously search engines had relied mostly on the text on individual websites to figure out which site would rank higher. Larry and Sergey introduced a reputation system that was a huge breakthrough. It gave search engines a way to take two pages that both look useful and determine which page people on the web like more or find more useful.

Pagerank is a simple reputation system. It starts off by giving everyone a score of (lets say) one. Then it starts walking through the link structure of the web (or the link graph as it's called in geek speak) calculating who is linking to whom. It figures out your score by looking at who is linking to you and who links to them.

An exhaustive explanation of pagerank is more than you want to read. So I'm going to give you a few simple rules to follow to get Google to like you:

Rule #1: Never get someone with a low quality or spammy site to link to you. Ever.

This will hurt your ranking in Google and it's tough to recover once you've been flagged as a spam site or part of a "bad neighborhood".

Rule #2: All links are good provided they are from good quality websites.

The site that links to you doesn't have to get a huge amount of traffic or even have a super high pagerank. Just make sure they have good quality content that isn't spammy and that the people who link to them are good quality sites too.

Rule #3: Focus on getting links from sites that are related to yours.

About 70% or more of the sites that link to you should be related to your content. If a high quality site wants to link to you and they're unrelated, say yes! But focus your link building on sites that are related to yours. That will ensure that you rank highly for the correct keywords and that you'll get the kinds of visitors you want.

Rule #4: Only link to high quality sites no matter how badly someone begs or pleads that you link to them.

Linking to a spam or low quality site will hurt your ranking.

Rule #5: Link text is very important.

Link text is the text that appears as (usually blue) underlined text that surfers click on. With images that are linked, the link text is the text contained in the "ALT" attribute of the image. If someone links to you and the link text is "holiday accommodation website" then Google will assume that you should rank a little higher for anything related to holiday accommodation. When you ask a website for a link, be very specific about what link text they use. Some bloggers and site owners will want to put their own text in the link, but try to influence them into having link text that is targeted and will attract the kinds of Google users that you want.

One last note: If someone links to you, make sure they're not including a nofollow attribute. That will cause the link to not pass any pagerank to your site. You can learn more about nofollow on this wikipedia entry.

Tomorrow I'm going to chat about a few strategies to get sites to link to you. Have a spectacular Monday!

Mark Maunder
Feedjit Founder & CEO.

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