Monday, September 12, 2005

Take care - Links can damage your PageRank

I have been delving into the depths of Link Exchange and discovered it's a lot more complex and dangerous than I first expected and it's all down to understanding Google's PageRank, a complex mathematical calculation of the value of a web page. The higher the PageRank the better the page does in Google.

The first thing I learned is that Google is not ranking web sites, it is ranking web pages. As far as google is concerned the entire internet is one big network of interlinked pages. This is important to know because you need to decide which pages it is important to get ranked well and which do not need to be ranked so well. In other words which pages do you most want people to find before they reach your site? And are there some you want Google to ignore entirely.

First important point about Links is that Incoming links are absolutely essential - the more you have the better BUT it is equally essential to link your primary keywords to the page link. Most domain names do not contain keywords, and google therefore cannot index them.

Second important thing - every page gives away some of its page value to the page it links to. To increase the ranking of your page - you need to link to pages that have a high rank. An Inbound link from a page with no value is if limited value. Now the bad news - every outbound link from your site gives away value to that site. Fine of you have a reciprocal link but beware. If your inbound link is to your homepage that improves your home page value - but if the outbound link is to a links page you are taking value away from that and if your links page has low value people will not way to link exchange.

Can you see how complex this gets. There are a lot of Link Farms and Google does not like them so it penalises them - therefore the inbound link has limited value but worse any outbound link may result in your site being penalised. There is an excellent article on this at the Web Workshop

Now I set that link on Blogger's composer - the link below which is one of the links I try to get accepted has built into it a number of features to significantly improve inbound links for me. This one points to my Newsletter page, the link is in bold and there is an incentive of a free ebook if you sign up - that's the human design. But more importantly it is highly optimised for search engines from my current understanding (it keeps changing I may be wrong). The link text contains my primary site and newsletter Keyword Phrase "Small Business Marketing" - the page address is - Lots of keywords. Hover over the link and "Subscribe to Speaking and Marketing Tips today" appears for a moment - more keywords. All of these are indexed by Google. Follow the link and there is a page equally optimised for those same keywords.

Low Cost Small Business Marketing Strategies From Rikki Arundel
Content rich site to help your small business to Get Attention and Be Remembered - Free ebook - How to Get Customer Queuing up to Buy

I am learning to use a lot of attributes with the html for the link. target="_new" to make it open in a new window, title="keywords text" for that little pop up when you hover over the link and a new one rel="nofollow" This tells google not to follow a link and therefore not to rank it. I will use this whenever I have a link and no reciprocal link exists.

Which reminds me that finally you need to watch out for that being used in your reciprocal links because then you are not getting the value of the Link exchange. Other tricks are using links in java script, or having a "nofollow" meta tag on the page. It is also important to check that a page you are linking to is indexed. Type "" into Google (with the quotation marks) and you will soon find out.

That's it for today - bit tekkie if you don't do your own web site - but it has really opened my eyes today.

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