Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Importance of Inbound Links

It's raining outside, and my view is no longer of the Caribbean Sea breaking over the reef out front, but of my pine filled backyard in Naples, Florida. Yes, we're back home. Back to the comforts of that two minute coffee, familiar surroundings - you know the feeling.

When you're gone for any length of time, the mail stacks up. One item of vital importance, and why I write you on a Saturday, is something I found from the good people at Fortune Interactive. It speaks of an analysis done on June 30, 2006 of 100 search results and tells us what the search engines find important.

I've been telling you from the beginning how important it is to get great inbound links to your sites, but this report goes even further. Here's a breakdown of the report:

In-Bound Link (IBL) Quality. This is a measurement of key elements on the page containing an in-bound link which, in combination, influence the link reputation for the target of the link. This is the only factor that had the same level of relative influence across the search engines and happened to be the most influential in all cases.

In-Bound Link Relevance. This is a proprietary measurement of the topic/keyphrase relevancy of the content on the page containing the in-bound link. Yahoo™ and MSN™ place the same level of importance on this factor but not as much as Google™.

* In-Bound Link Title Keyword Density. All three search engines differ on the level of importance placed on this factor. Google™ assigns more importance than the others, followed by MSN™ and then Yahoo™.

* In-Bound Link Anchor Keyword Density. Google™ and Yahoo™ assign the same level of importance here. MSN™ places more importance here than the others, the second most important overall among its other factors.

In-Bound Link Quantity. Yahoo™ and MSN™ place equal importance on this factor, but still to a lesser degree than Google™ does. It is worth pointing out that not only is IBL Quality of most relative importance among off-page factors across the board, but IBL Quantity is of least relative importance among the off-page factors across the board.

Title Keyword Density. This is the most influential on-page factor for the competitive landscape in Google™ as well as in MSN™™. Yahoo™ assigns the same overall relative degree of importance to it as MSN™.

* The score used here is not the raw value for the measurement, but rather a proprietary formula based in part on the raw values for the keyword density.

So, here's what you need to consider when someone requests a link, or when you go searching for inbound links:

1. Look at the quality of the inbound link. It's got to be related to your page/site topic.
2. The inbound link has to carry some weight. Look for PR 2 - 5, and not above unless your site is very solid.
3. Check their Title Keyword Density. If it is off-topic, your link will probably not be worth as much.

Comments? Let me hear from you.

Nice to be back,
Dave in Naples

Monday, July 17, 2006

Google Page Rank Changes to Note

Everyone I know has been affected by Google's latest Page Rank changes. Many people who follow what I do are happy to see the shake-out. But, it's been a confusing past seven days.

Pages that have done poorly, gained PR's of 4. Pages that were supposedly quality, dropped to zero. Why?

First, remember that Page Rank is figured by inbound links. The links must be quality links. Google figures that if you have quality inbound links, your page must be important. They know you can't control the inbound links, which is why it really doesn't matter if a bunch of crappy sites happen to link to you.

But Page Rank does care who YOU link to.

If your outbound links tie you to crappy sites, i.e. zero Page Rank with poor quality content, then your score will be lower.

I believe the PR run is almost done now. So, there isn't much to do immediately to improve your rank. However, now is the time to start building a linking strategy - and here's what you should consider:
  • Find sites that are listed in the search engines.
  • Sites that have a PR of 2 but not more than 5.
  • Sites that don't hide their link pages. Make sure a spider could crawl from the home page to the links page without a problem.
  • Sites on the same topic as yours.
  • Honest, white hat webmasters. Do a "view source" on their pages and look for no-follows or other black hat tactics.
Next, I'll talk about why some high ranking PR sites show up lower in the search engines than sites with less PR. Until then, start your linking strategy now and be ready for the next Google Page Rank update.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Stingray City

There's a sandbar off the coast of Grand Cayman locals call Stingray Sandbar. Stingray City, a similar sandbar is deeper, and after Hurricane Ivan, has fewer rays. Check out the action here as we had a fun day today. Later, I'll write about Google's latest Page Rank changes and what you should be doing.