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Semantic relationships among links on a page
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IP addresses of cross-linked sites
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TLD of domain name for a link
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Link location
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Web standards compliance
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Detrimental “red-flag” factors
Quantity of Inbound Links
A site with many inbound links is likely to be relevant because many people voted for it by placing the
link on their sites. There are some caveats here with regard to whether the links are detected to be part of
an artificial link scheme, and quality is also a concern as explained in the next section. However, more is
generally better.
Quality of Inbound Links
A popular web site that links to you prominently that itself has many inbound links and a good repu-
tation is likely to mean more than a link from a random page from an unimportant web site with few
links. There is no absolute definition that describes “quality.” Search engines themselves struggle with
this definition and use very complicated algorithms that implement an approximation of the human
definition. Use your judgment and intuition.
There are certain exceptions to this rule, as MySpace.com (or other similar social web sites with
user-generated content) may have many links pointing to it as a whole, but a link, even from a
popular MySpace profile sub page, may not yield the results that would seem reasonable from a
direct interpretation of link popularity. The same may also be true for Blogger.com blogs and other
subdomain-based sites. This may be because search engines treat such sites as exceptions to stem
artificial manipulation.
Relevance of Inbound Links
A search engine is likely to view a link from a semantically related web page or site as more valuable than
a link from a random unrelated one. Usually, a series of links with very similar anchor text from unrelated
sources is an indicator of an artificial link scheme, and they may be devalued. Too many links from irrele-
vant sources may result in a penalty. This has led to speculation that competitors can hurt your web site
by pointing many such links to your web site. Google states in its Webmaster Help Center, however, that
there is “almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our
index” (
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=34449
). The
verdict is out on MSN Live Search, as documented at
http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/
006666.html
.
Link Churn
Links that appear and disappear on pages are likely to be part of a linking scheme. The rate at which
these links appear and disappear is termed “link churn.” If this happens frequently, it may be regarded
as spam. Those links will either be devalued, or at worst your web site will be regarded as spam and
penalized. Unless you are participating in such a scheme, this should probably not be a concern.
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Chapter 2: A Primer in Basic SEO
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