My friend asked me this question recently, and because I am ridiculously lazy but with an inflated idea of my own worth, and because it made me realise that even very clever people can be dumb in the world of search, I thought I’d share my answer here.
SEO query: does it help to link to other sites? Or does it only help
when they link to you?
Essentially, it’s all all about having other sites link to you. Google et al view an incoming link (—> your site) as a vote of confidence, and the better the quality of that site, the more weight it carries. Google uses a metric called Page Rank, which is a value out of a maximum of ten, and denotes the authority and relevance of each site (you can view this by downloading the google toolbar, http://tools.google.com/ if you want to see this data for every site you visit, or by using a web tool like http://www.prchecker.info) and this is based on the number and calibre of incoming links (so a link from a site with PR [pagerank] of six is worth more than a link from a site with zero PR).
It is also the case that having outgoing links is the best way to generate incoming links; one of the reasons I love SEO is that it really promotes a sort of idealised online neighbourly-ness.
Generosity (giving a link to a site you like) is generally rewarded / reciprocated. It also makes a difference what link anchor text you use, and the relevance of the site you link to, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Just be confident that linking directly to an relevant article is helpful – think about your user – and linking to some bullshit irrelevant site about viagra is not.
It’s all about keywords, so a web page about ‘three masted schooner’ (for example) linking to another page containing those words = good! Google knows that that relevancy in linking is more likely to improve user experience, ensure the user continues to trust Google’s search results and therefore keep bringing in Google’s revenue. WIN!
If a site links to you with keyword targeted anchor text – the text that shows up in the hyperlink – that’s even better. So linking to Steffan – Classic Boat will help you rank for the keywords ‘steffan classic boat’
Links are good not just for boosting your PageRank, but also getting indexed (encouraging the googlebot to ‘crawl’ your site and make sure it is added to the database) and getting traffic to your site.
Online property works similarly to real life real estate; so the more avenues you have leading to your house (a very big house in the country), the more easily people can visit it. If there’s only a shitty dirt track, no one will bother.
Love C x
My friend Steffan is bloody marvellous, and if you wanted to support his attempt to sail around London to raise money for cancer research, you should click here: Steffan: sailing towards a cure.
He’ll be utterly mortified about that link, but my blog, my rules. ha!