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Search Engine Optimization Expert offers SEO, Search Engine Promotion & Link Popularity Building Services in Hyderabad, India.

Search Engine Optimization : SEO BOOK.

Chapter 12


Using Link Popularity to Boost Your Position

Thousands of the site owners have experienced of frustration of not being able to get search engines to index their sites. You build a Web site, you do your best to optimize it for the search engines, you register in the search engines, and then nothing much happens. There is lot of confusion about links and their relationships to Web sites. Most site owners don't even realize that links have a bearing on their engine positions. Surely all you need to do is register your page in a search engine and it be indexed.

Why Search engines Like Links


Earlier all you had to do to get your site listed in a search engine - and may be even ranked well - was to register with the search engine. Then along came Google in1998 and that all changed. Google decided to use the links pointing at a site as another factor in determining if the site was a good match for a search. Each link to a site was a vote for the site, and the more votes site received, the better a site was regarded by google. To rank well today, you need to use links to vote the site up in the search engines. Links pointing to a web page do several things.
· Links make it easier for search engines to find the page. As the searchbots around the Web, they follow links. They index a page, follow the links on that page to other pages, index those pages, follow the links on those pages, and so on. The more links to a page, the more likely the page is picked up and indexed by the search engines, and the more quickly it happens.
· Search engines use the number of links pointing to a page as an indication of the page's value. If lots of pages link to your page, the search engines place a greater value on your pages with few links pointing to them. If you have lots of links from sites that are themselves linked to by many other sites, search engines conclude that your site must really be important.
· Links provide information to the search engines about the page they are pointing to. The link text often contains keywords that search engines can use to glean additional information about your page. The theme of the site that is pointing to your site also gives search engines an indication of the theme of your site.
· Links not only bring searchbots to a page, but also bring people to the page. The whole purpose of your search engine campaign is to bring people to your site.
Links are very important. Sometimes they mean the difference between being indexed by a search engine and not being indexed, and between being ranked indexed in a search engine and not being ranked well. Backlinks are an integral part of the optimization of your web site. A backlink is a link back to your site. Search engines look at backlinks to figure out what your site is about and how important is. Link are not something detached from your site; they are an integral part of your site. Think of your web sites in terms of a regional map; your site is a major city and the backlinks are the roads bringing traffic into the city. The search engines are trying to figure out what site of page is the best match for a search. Search engines use links as one way to determine this. As with content though using the number of links to and from a site to measure significance is an imperfect method. A page can conceivably be the best page on a particular subject, yet have few links to it.

Understanding Page Value and Pagerank
Search engines assign a value to your site based on the links pointing to it. The most popular term for this kind of ranking is Pagerank, which is used by Google. The Pagerank is a value that google gives to a page, based on thenumber and type of links into the page. Pagerank is used frequently in the search engine optimization field for several reasons. The primary reason is that google is the world's most important search engine. And despite the changes that will occur in 2004 - primarily that Yahoo! Is going to dump Google and start using search results provided by its own search engine - google will remain the most important search engine for world's search for the foreseeable future. Google currently provides about 75-80 percent of the world's search results. You could be forgiven for thinking that the term Pagerank comes from the idea of well, ranking pages. Google claims that it comes from the name of one of the founders of Google and authors of the original PageRank document, Larry Page. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Another reason why PageRank is such a hot topic for SEO types is that you don't need a Ph.D. to figure out the PageRank for a page. We al so have a good idea of how PageRank is calculated.

PageRank - One Part Of the Equation
The PageRank value is just one part of how Google determines which pages to show you when you search for something. A low rank page is often an indicator o problems, and a high pagerank is an indicator that you are doing something right, but pagerank itself is just a small part of how Google ranks your pages. When you type a search term into Google and click Search, Google search looking through its database for pages with the words you have types. Then it examines each page to decide which pages ar most relevant to your search. Google considers many characterstics: what ht e<TITLE> tag says, how the keywords are treated, where the keywords sit on the page, and so on. It also considers PageRank. Its possible for a page with a low Pagerank to rank higher than one with a high Pagerank in some searches. When that happens, it simply means that the value of all the other characterstics of the page that google considered.
Here's what google says about PageRank:
"The heart of our software is Pagerank, a system for ranking web pages developed by our founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. And while we have dozens of engineers working to improve every aspect of Google ona daily basis, PageRank continues to provide the basis for all of out web search tools." So Google claims that PageRank is in use and is important. But you need to keep its significance in perspective.

The PageRank Algorithm
Here comes the Pagerank algorithm

PR(A)=(i-d)+d(PR(t1)/C(t1)+…..PR(tn)/C(tn))

Where:
PR=PageRank
A=WebPageA
D=A damping factor,usually set to 0.85
T1….tn=pages linking to Webpage
C=The number of outbound links frompage tn.

Rather than take you through the PageRank Algorithm step by step, here are a few key points that explain more or less how it works:
· As soon as a page enters the Google index, it has an intrinsic PageRank. The Pagerank is very small, but it's there.
· A Page has a PageRank only if it's indexed by Google.Links to your site from pages that have not yet been indexed are effectively worthless ,as far as PageRank goes.
· When you place a link on a page, pointing to another page, the page with the link is voting for the page it's pointing to. These voters are how Pagerank increases. As a page gets more and more links into it, its pagerank grows.
· Linking to another page doesn't reduce the PageRank of the origin page, but it does increase the PageRank of the receiving page. It's sort of like a company's shareholders meeting, at which people with more shares have more votes. They don't lose their shares when they vote. But the more shares they have, the more votes they can place.
· Pages with no links out of them are wasting PageRank; they don't get to vote for other pages. Because the inherent PageRank of a page is not terribly high, it isn't normally a problem. It becomes a problem if you have a large number of links to dangling pages of this kind. Or it can be a problem if you have a dangling page with a high Pagerank.
· A sigle link from a dangling page can channel that PageRank back into your site. Make sure that all your pages at least onelink back into the site.
· You can increase a site's overall PageRank two ways:
v Increase the number of pages in the site .
v Get links to the site from outside.
· The Page receiving the inbound link gets the greatest gain. Thus you want links into your most important pages
pages you want ranked in the search engines. PageRank is then spread through links to other pages in the
site, but these secondary pages get less of the boost.

It's important to understand that Web sites don't have pageranks, Webpages have PageRanks. It's possible for the home page of a site to have a high PageRank, while internal pages have very low ranks. Here are a couple ofimporatant implications from this:
· You can vote large amounts of Pageranks through your site with a single link. A page with a pagerank o 5 can pass that on to another page as long as it doesn't split the vote by linking to other pages.
· You can ensure PageRank is well distributed around your web site by including lots of links. Linking every page to every other page is the most efficient way to ensure PageRank around the site.

Huge Sites=Greater PageRank
Because every page is born with a PageRank, the more pages in your site, the greater the site's intrinsic PageRank. If you create a linking structure that links all your pages well, you will be providing your pages with a PageRank simply because you have many pages. Don't think it as search engine strategy. You'd need a huge number of Pages to make a difference. If you own o manage a site that already has hundreds or thousands of pages just because that's what you do, consider yourself luky, but don't build hundreds or thousands of pages just to boost PageRank. This page does provide another reason for Web sites to retain old pages.

Measuring PageRank


How can you discover a page's PageRank? You can use the Google Toolbar. Each time you open a page in internet explorer 5.0 or later, you see the page's Pagerank in a bar. If the bar is all white, the pagerank is 0. If it's all green, the Pagerank is 10. You can estimate Pagerank simply by looking at the position of the green bar, or you can point at the bar, and a pop-up appears with the PageRank number. If the PageRank component isn't on your toolbar, click the options button to open the toolbar Options dialog box. Check the PageRank check box and click ok. Here are a few thing to understand about this toolbar:


· Sometimes the bar is gray. Sometimes when you look at the bar, it's grayed out. Some people believe that this means Google is somehow penalizing the site, that it's withholding PageRank. I believe the bar is simply buggy, and that Pagerank is just not being passed to the bar for some reason. Every time I've seen the bar grayed out, I've been able to open the Web page in another browser window and view the PageRank.


· Sometimes the Toolbar Guesses. Sometimes the toolbar guesses a page's Pagerank. You may occasionally find a PageRank being reported for a page that isn't even in the google index. It seems that Google maybe coming up with a Pagerank for a page for a page on the fly, based on the Pagerank of other pages in the site that have already indexed.
· A white bar is not a penalty. Another common pagerank myth is that Google penalizes pages by giving them PageRanks of 0. That is ,if you see a page with a PageRank of 0, something is wrong with the page, and if you link to the page, your Webpage maybe penalized. Most of the world's Web pages show a PageRank of 0. that's not to say that Google wont take away Pagerank if it wants to penalize a page or site for some reason.


· Zero is not zero, and ten is not ten! Although commonly referred to as PageRank, and even labeled as such, the number you see in the google Toolbar is not he page's actual PageRank. It's simply a number indicating the approximate position of the page on the PageRank range. Therefore, pages never have a PageRank of 0, even though most pages show 0 on the toolbar, and a page with a rank of say 2, might actually have a PageRank of 25 or 100.


The true PageRank scale is probably a logarithmic scale. Thus the distance between PageRank 5 and 6 is much greater than the difference between 2 and 3. The consensus of opinion among people who like to discuss these things is that the PageRank shown on the toolbar is probably on a logarithmic scale with a base of around 5 or 6, or perhaps even lower. Suppose , for amoment, that the base is actually 5. That means that a page with a PageRank of 0 shown on the toolbar may have an actual pagerank somewhere between a fraction of1 and just under 5. If the PageRank shown is 1, the page may have a rank between 25 andjust 125, and so on. A page with a rank of 9 or 10 shown on the toolbar most likely has a true PageRank in the millions. With base 5, the toolbar PageRank numbers would represent true Page Ranks. The maximum possible pagerank, and thus this scale, continually change as Google recalculates PageRank. As pages are added to the index, the PageRank has to go up. Here are two important points to remember about the PageRank shown on the Google toolbar:


· Two pages with the same PageRank shown on the toolbar may actually have very different true PageRanks, with one having a PageRank of a fifth or sixth, or may be a quarter, of the other.
· It gets progressively harder to push a page to the next PageRank level on the toolbar. Getting a page to 1or 2 is pretty easy, but to push it to 3 or 4 is much harder and to push it to higher levels is very difficult indeed. To get to 8 or above is rare.

Leaking PageRank
It's possible for PageRank to leak out of a site, despite the fact that pages don't lose PageRank when they link to other pages. Here's how.
As you have seen, each time you link from one page to another, the origin page is voting for the recipient page. Thus a link from one page in your site to another page in your site is a vote for that other page. If you link to a page on another site, you are voting or another site's page rather than your site's page. As a general rule, you should worry more about getting back links to your site from appropriate Web sites than about how much PageRank is leaking through your outgoing links. You can build Pageranks quickly by using the techniques. And in most cases, worrying about outgoing links wont save you much PageRank. Still, you can do two simple things to help reduce rankleak:
· If you have a page with lots of outgoing links, make sure it also has links to the other pages in your site. You'll be splitting the vote that way between outgoing and internal links, instead of passing all of it on through outgoing links.
· Ideally, you want the page with the external links to be one with a low PageRank, reducing the outgoing votes. You can do than by minimizing the number of links from other pages on your site into the link page.

Page Relevance
Page relevance is harder to measure. The idea is that a link from a page that is related in some way to your page is more valuable than a link from a page that is entirely unrelated. A link to your rodent-racing site from a Web site that is also related to rodent racing is more valuable than, a link from your someone's personal Web site. The problem with pagerank is that it's independent of keywords. the value is a number derived from links pointing at a page, but it has no relation what so ever to a specific keyword. Thus The search engines add something else to the mix: relevance or context. The major search engines are attempting to do this sort of analysis by matching keywords. In effect, the search engines are trying to create what have been termed context-sensitive PageRanks or topic-sensitive PageRanks. A topic sensitive PageRanks is dependent on a particular topic. Rather than counting any and all links, only links from relevant Websites are included. One way the search engines are probably trying to do this sort of thing is by using the Open Directory Project directory to provide some context. Because Websites listed in the directory have been put into categories. It gives the search engines a starting point to figure out that keywords and sites relate to what categories. Because the search engines use the Open Directory Project and Yahoo! Directory to help figure out what category you are related to, this is yet another reason why its important to be in these two directories.

Hubs And Neighborhoods
Search engines are also looking for what may be thought of as Web neighborhoods or communities or hubs - groups of Web sites related to a particular subject, and the sites that appear to be most central. If you are positioned in them middle of a cloud or web o websites related to a particular subject, that's a good thing.

Avoiding Links with No Value
Some links have no value:
· If a page isn't in Google, the links from the Page have no value. Google doesn't know about them, after all.
· If a page is what Google regards as a link farm Google may know about the page but decide to exclude it from the index.
Link Farm is an automated system that allows site owners to very quickly create thousands of incoming links, by joining with thousands of other site owners to exchange links. Another trick is to create hundreds of shadow domains, and link them all into one. The search engines don't like link farms and will exclude link-farm pages if they identify them. However, as with much in the search-engine-optimization business, another myth has arisen over this subject. You may hear that if a link is found to your site from a link farm, you will be penalized. Search engines do not penalize sites for incoming links. They cant or it would encourage dirty tricks. Want to push a competitor's site down so your site can beat it? Then link to it from as many link farms as you can. Obviously, it wouldn't make sense for the search engines to encourage this sort of thing, so links from such pages wont hurt your site - though they wont help it, either. On the other hand, links to such sites may hurt you. Because you do have control over links from your site to others, if a search engine decides that you are linking to a bad neighborhood, it may penalize you. The bottom line is that you should avoid working with links farms because they could potentially harm you, and they wont help you anyway. Do search engines ever penalize? Sure. But with billions of Web pages in the large indexes, these penalties have to be automated. In order to automate penalties, search engines have to create a very loose system that penalizes only the very worst offenses, or they risk penalizing innocent people. The proof is that if you spend time searching through the major search engines, you will find many pages that clearly break the rules, yet which are still included in the indexes.

Identifying Links that Aren't Links
When is a link not a link? In cases such as these:
· The link has been created in such a manner that the search engines cant read it.
· The link points somewhere else, perhaps to a program else's website, which then forwards the browser to your site.

Here are some examples. Take a look at this link:
http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;6523085;7971444;q?http://www.yoursite.com

This link passes through an ad server hosted by an advertising company called Doubleclick. When someone clicks this link, perhaps on a banner ad, a message is sent to a program on the ad.doubleclick.net ad server, which logs the click and then forwards the browser to www.yourdomain.com. You may think this is a link to www.yourdomain.com, and it may work like one, but as far as search engine is concerned, it's really a link to ad.doubleclick.net.

Here's another example. Suppose the person creating a link to your site doesn't want the search engine to be able to read it. This person may be trying to get as many incoming links as possible while avoiding outgoing links, so he does something
Like this:
<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="Javascript">
<!-
document.write("Visit <A HREF='http://www.yourdomain.com/'>
Joe's Rodent Racing site here</A>
// -- >
</SCRIPT>

The author is using a Javascript to write the link onto the page. You can see the link, other visitors can see it, and the link works when clicked upon. But search engines wont read the Javascript, and they wont know there's a link there. What appears to be appears to be a perfectly. What appears to be a perfectly normal link on a Web page is invisible to the search engines. So it does your site no good as far as PageRank or any other link-popularity algorithm goes.

Some Links Are More Valuable Than Others
It seems likely that search engines - and google in particular - regard some links as more valuable than others. And it seems very likely to me that they - and Google in Particular - will tighten up the way they regard links. Because the search engines keep their techniques secret, The following practices may already be in use or could be soon:
· Links inside paragraphs of text are regarded as more valuable than links in large lists or links set apart from text.
· The search engines could compare incoming links with outgoing links, and downloading a page or a site if it appears to be doing a lot of reciprocal linking from link pages.
· Links pointing to a page inside a site might be valued more highly than links to the home page.
· Outgoing links concentrated on a few pages might be valued less than links spread around a site.

Inserting Keywords Into Links
Keywords in your pages are very important. But keywords outside your pages can also affect the page results. That's keywords in links to pointing to your site to your site are very important. If hundreds of links around the world point to one of
Your pages and all these links contain the word rodent racing, then google and, other search engines will get the idea that your pages are somehow related to rodent racing. It actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. If hundreds of site owners create links pointing to your site, and in effect, say, "This site I'm pointing to is about rodent racing," Then google is being given a darn good clue regarding what your site is about! In effect, google has recruited site owners to tell it what other owners' sites are about.

As you browse the Web, take a close look at links on the sites you visit. Now that you know how critical it is to add keywords to links, you'll see that many links provide relatively little value to the sites they're pointing to. Sure, a link is better than no link, but a bad link could be better still. Here are some of the problems you'll see:
· Image Links(Buttons or Banners linking to sites): search engines cant read images, so they are not getting keywords from them.
· One-or-two-word links, such as company name: In most cases, company names don't help you in the search engines. You need to use the keywords your potential visitors and clients are using.
· Combination of descriptions and click here links: e.g. For more information on rodent racing - rats, mice, gerbils, and any other kind of rodent racing - click here. All the keywords are there, they just have no links on them! Click here links are a total waste of hyperlink space.

A Few Basic Rules About Links
You know that links are valuable and can help boost your position in the search engines. But what sorts of links? Here comes the summary:
· Links from sites that are related are often more valuable than links from sites that aren't related.
· Links from pages with high PageRanks are much more valuable than from pages with low PageRanks.
· Virtually all incoming links to your site have some kind of value, even if the pages have a very low PageRank or are not contextual. It may not be much of a value, but it's there.
· The more links on a page that point to your site, the lower the value of the link to your site because the vote is being shared. Thus, in some cases, a link from a low-page Rank with no other links may actually be more valuable than a link from a high-pageRank with many links.
· Links are even more valuable when they include keywords in them because keywords tell the search engines what the referenced is all about.
· A link strategy that positions your site as an authority, or a hub, in a web community or neighborhood can be a powerful way to get the attention of the search engines.




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