Some Truths About Ranking And Backlinks

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While there is a wealth of great information on Warrior, there's also a *lot* of myths, misinformation, conjecture, and some really bad information.

For those of you struggling to get your head around rankings and backlinks, perhaps this will help.


"RANKINGS" DEFINED

The term "ranking" by itself doesn't mean much, sort of like the term "color". Ranking is always in relation to a keyword or phrase. Statements like "ranking in the #1 spot" or "How do I get my site on the first page?" by themselves are meaningless.

A search engine database is relative - there's no set order of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. It's not a table like a spreadsheet. Where a particular page sits in the database, or SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages), is only in relation to a particular search, meaning a keyword or phrase. Further, Websites aren't listed in the SERPS, pages of a website are.

Where we rank in the SERPS is one specific ordering or listing of the database for a specific keyword or phrase. That's why a page might rank #3 for "red bikini bottom" and #141 for "bikini bottom". Same database, different ordering of it for different queries.


WHY RANKINGS CHANGE

(This applies to primarily to Google; each search engine uses somewhat different criteria and values). The goal of a search engine is to display the most relevant pages, in order of 'importance', for a given search query. When a search is entered, the database produces a list of relevant results and orders them. The order is determined by a number of factors including onpage values, Pagerank, backlinks, trustrank, and authority.

When a page is first indexed, Google does an initial 'approximation'. Because many of the more 'costly' calculations aren't figured in yet, a well-optimized site can often place well for it's 'targeted' keyword/phrase when it's first indexed.

Within some period, usually a few days to a few weeks, a more thorough valuation is done. At this point, that well-optimized page, that doesn't yet have much else going for it, drops significantly. This is often referred to as part of the "Google dance".

Over the next period, backlinks start to be found, perhaps more are being added, and the page will often begin to creep back upwards.

Of course this is an oversimplification; Google's algorithms are very sophisticated and complex. It's believed there are somewhere around 100 factors that are calculated - some that add to a page's 'importance', some that subtract.


BOOSTING RANKINGS

In order to improve a page's overall values, we want to optimize the page itself, and we want to build it's total "backlink value".

Generally speaking, it's 'easiest' to target one keyword/phrase per page. Assuming that is our goal, the first thing we want to do is optimize the page itself.

The main factors are (roughly in order of importance):
  • Domain name
  • Page title (title tag)
  • H1 tag
  • Keyword density
  • Meta description
  • Meta keyword

Beyond that, we can add some additional boost by linking internally to our 'target' page. Wherever you have the opportunity on other pages, create a keyword link to your 'target' page.

Once our page is optimized, the rest comes down to building 'importance' which is essentially 'backlink value'. Backlink value is the number of backlinks times the 'strength' of each backlink (whatever PR it's passing, it's trustrank, and authority). In otherwords, total backlink value is the addition of each backlink's value combined together.

In order to boost our rankings once our page is optimized, we have to increase it's overall backlink value higher than those pages ahead of us.

If we're trying to boost our rankings for keywords we're not as well optimized for, we'll need that much more backlink value.


BACKLINKS

A backlink is simply a link pointing to our page from another page that is recognized by the search engine (not all backlinks are 'found' - those that aren't, add no backlink value).

The value of a backlink is determined by where it is, and the link itself. For the link itself, using our 'target' keyword/phrase as the anchor text (the clickable part) gives it the highest value. The amount of backlink value it gives us for ranking purposes is based on where it appears on the page (higher is better), the Pagerank, trustrank and authority of the page it's on, and the context, or relevancy of that page to our keyword/phrase.

Ranking for a keyword/phrase comes down to optimizing our page for that keyword/phrase, then gaining more total backlink value than the tops sites we're trying to beat.


PAGERANK

While you hear many people say "Pagerank doesn't matter", it does matter when we're trying to boost our total backlink value. Why? Because part of the value of a given backlink comes from how much Pagerank it conveys. And that is a function of the Pagerank of the page where the backlink resides.

For example, all other things being equal, a backlink residing on a PR-5 page adds considerably more backlink value than a backlink from a PR-2 page.

Keep in mind, Pagerank is not a static value, it changes, ebbs and flows. The PR you see on your browser, or at a Pagerank checker, is the value that it had at the last "update". Google 'exports' the PR values once every few months. A site that shows a PR-3 may not actually be a PR-3. The only thing that shows is that when Google did the last "update", it was a PR-3. Like rankings, Pagerank is fluid.

That being said, there is no way to know the actual PR of a page other than on the day Google exports that info. But it's "all we have" and can be at least a relative indicator.

Pagerank, as the name implies, is assigned per page, not per site. Pages from a given site can, and often do have different PR values. Usually, the homepage, which is usually the oldest, most optimized, and has the most backlinks, is the highest, but this isn't always the case. As such, a backlink from a "PR-4 site" often doesn't convey the backlink value of a PR-4 page. If the actual page the link is on isn't a PR-4, than that's not the value passed. Still, a backlink on an inner page of a site who's homepage is a PR-4 is usually stronger than the backlink on an inner page of a site who's homepage is a PR-2.

FOLLOW / NOFOLLOW

The "NoFollow" tag was created by Google (other search engines don't consider it) for webmasters to tell their crawler not to 'follow' a link on a page. It also discounted the passing of the page's PR through that link. Currently, a link that is tagged "NoFollow" does not pass PR value to the link. That does not mean that backlink has no value - it does - it means however that it's value is relatively low.

While Matt Cutts at Google says they're moving towards ignoring "NoFollow" tags, they haven't yet, at least where passing Pagerank is concerned.

What this means for ranking is that "NoFollow" links are low-value backlinks, regardless of where they are.

Hope this helps~

Mark
#backlinks #ranking #truths
  • Profile picture of the author Peter Adamson
    Good stuff, thanks. And while it is true that only backlinks recognised by the search engine have value, there is no way of knowing which links are recognised. Experiments that have improved rankings using backlinks that do not show up anywhere in any index have proven this. My advice is to not second-guess the SEs but go for a very broad mix of backlinks, including ones with nofollow tags as a total absence of nofollow links would not occur naturally.
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  • Good points, Peter. I think a broad range of backlinks is always the best strategy.

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author 4morereferrals
      FOLLOW / NOFOLLOW

      The "NoFollow" tag was created by Google (other search engines don't consider it) for webmasters to tell their crawler not to 'follow' a link on a page. It also discounted the passing of the page's PR through that link. Currently, a link that is tagged "NoFollow" does not pass PR value to the link. That does not mean that backlink has no value - it does - it means however that it's value is relatively low.

      While Matt Cutts at Google says they're moving towards ignoring "NoFollow" tags, they haven't yet, at least where passing Pagerank is concerned.

      What this means for ranking is that "NoFollow" links are low-value backlinks, regardless of where they are.

      This topic has become of significant interest as of late ...

      What evidence do we have or can link to that supports the above paragraph? Urban Internet Legend?

      Where and when did Matt Cutts make this revelation?

      Id love to expand upon this further.
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      • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
        Nice post, 90% of it is right on the money.

        Originally Posted by internetmarketer99 View Post


        The main factors are (roughly in order of importance):
        • Domain name
        • Page title (title tag)
        • H1 tag
        • Keyword density
        • Meta description
        • Meta keyword
        Everything is correct except the order, Domain/URL go last, and they are not even necessary (none of them are for that matter). The Domain/URL importance is just another myth.

        The amount of backlink value it gives us for ranking purposes is based on where it appears on the page (higher is better), the Pagerank, trustrank and authority of the page it's on, and the context, or relevancy of that page to our keyword/phrase.
        The part I bolded is a myth. If you believe that then you're allowing your competition to be 10 steps ahead.

        The only relevance that matters is the anchor text of the backlink, not the relevance/context of the source at all.

        In terms of the source, all that matters is the PageRank (the higher, the better).

        Originally Posted by 4morereferrals View Post

        This topic has become of significant interest as of late ...

        What evidence do we have or can link to that supports the above paragraph? Urban Internet Legend?

        Where and when did Matt Cutts make this revelation?

        Id love to expand upon this further.
        It's in Matt Cutts best interest to bluff through certain imperfections of the Google algorithm.

        There are some things he will never admit to.

        But I can tell you for sure that nofollow links do indeed count.
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        • Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

          Nice post, 90% of it is right on the money.



          Everything is correct except the order, Domain/URL go last, and they are not even necessary (none of them are for that matter). The Domain/URL importance is just another myth.

          The part I bolded is a myth. If you believe that then you're allowing your competition to be 10 steps ahead.

          The only relevance that matters is the anchor text of the backlink, not the relevance/context of the source at all.

          In terms of the source, all that matters is the PageRank (the higher, the better).



          It's in Matt Cutts best interest to bluff through certain imperfections of the Google algorithm.

          There are some things he will never admit to.

          But I can tell you for sure that nofollow links do indeed count.
          Daniel,

          I'm not clear what you're saying in your first point. Are you suggesting that domain name is unimportant in ranking?

          Also, regarding relevance, I strongly disagree. Certainly the anchor text is the main factor as far as the link itself is concerned. But I do not agree that similar-anchor-text links from a 'bad neighborhood', link farm, or unrelated page will pass the same value as a link from a site that is contextually relevant.

          As far as 'nofollow' links, that is what I was saying - they do count.

          Mark
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          • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
            Originally Posted by internetmarketer99 View Post

            Daniel,

            I'm not clear what you're saying in your first point. Are you suggesting that domain name is unimportant in ranking?

            Also, regarding relevance, I strongly disagree. Certainly the anchor text is the main factor as far as the link itself is concerned. But I do not agree that similar-anchor-text links from a 'bad neighborhood', link farm, or unrelated page will pass the same value as a link from a site that is contextually relevant.

            As far as 'nofollow' links, that is what I was saying - they do count.

            Mark
            The importance of the keyword in the domain is a myth by itself. It's in fact the least important of the on site factors.

            A site without the keyword in the Domain/URL can easily outrank a site with the keyword in it.

            As for backlink source relevance, it's irrelevant as long the as the backlink comes with the right anchor text and from a high PR page.

            "...'bad neighborhood', link farm..." are not of high PR, so they are against my point to begin with.

            Anyway, if for example you are trying to rank for the term "internet marketing", an irrelevant PR10 backlink (such as that from Adobe) will be FAR more powerful than a Warrior Forum backlink (which is directly related to the term).

            I'm not saying a WF backlink is bad, it's great. But the higher the PR of the backlink source, the more powerful it is, regardless of relevance.

            And I have "impossible" keyword rankings achieved in under 1 month to back up my statements.
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            • Profile picture of the author 4morereferrals
              And I have "impossible" keyword rankings achieved in under 1 month to back up my statements.
              Yes - but not thru overly strategic backlink placements on HIGH PR "pages" - but thru massive application of herculean effort to place backlinks on high PR sites where the home page has decent PR.

              Sites dont get PR - Pages do - right?

              Whats the likelyhood of mere mortal marketers getting a true PR7 Page backlink? Slim ... none?

              From some of the terms Ive competed on - keyword in the url did seem to have significant importance ... After several people and I looked over the results of the experiment, the keyword in the url seemed to be the ONLY determinant factor that could be assisting the competing site in question ... domain age - too but.... yes - keywordbased domains can be regularly outranked to be sure - but Im not ready to wholly discount that as a decent factor. When I can - im buying a domain with the keyword strategically in the domains URL. YMMV ....
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              • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
                Originally Posted by 4morereferrals View Post

                Yes - but not thru overly strategic backlink placements on HIGH PR "pages" - but thru massive application of herculean effort to place backlinks on high PR sites where the home page has decent PR.

                Sites dont get PR - Pages do - right?

                Whats the likelyhood of mere mortal marketers getting a true PR7 Page backlink? Slim ... none?

                From some of the terms Ive competed on - keyword in the url did seem to have significant importance ... After several people and I looked over the results of the experiment, the keyword in the url seemed to be the ONLY determinant factor that could be assisting the competing site in question ... domain age - too but.... yes - keywordbased domains can be regularly outranked to be sure - but Im not ready to wholly discount that as a decent factor. When I can - im buying a domain with the keyword strategically in the domains URL. YMMV ....
                I'm not saying it has 0 weight. It is, after all, one of the ranking factors.

                Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief, it's the least important one.

                The keyword in Domain/URL does have some relative influence, even more so with low competition terms, and slightly less with medium competition keywords.

                But when it comes to the most competitive terms, it's weight is so meaningless that I much rather use the domain for branding purposes (such as placing my very own name or company name on it).

                And regarding your first comment, I don't do much backlinking at all. And no, the chances of getting PR7+ backlinks are not low.

                There will be a point in which you can easily leverage them.
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              • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
                Originally Posted by 4morereferrals View Post


                Whats the likelyhood of mere mortal marketers getting a true PR7 Page backlink? Slim ... none?
                Its not impossible but not going to happen too often. Internal page PR5 yes I have come across those but there was a guy about two months ago claiming he could get a bunch of PR7 pages through some magical software. I called the bluff and he hasn't been heard from on that since.
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            • Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

              The importance of the keyword in the domain is a myth by itself. It's in fact the least important of the on site factors.

              A site without the keyword in the Domain/URL can easily outrank a site with the keyword in it.
              Daniel,

              I don't know what you're basing your statement on and I'm not going to argue the point with you, but that's just plain bad information.

              Of course a page without the keyword in the domain can outrank a page without it. And vice-versa.

              The point is, the domain name is a higher-value factor than the others. Period.

              These are cumulative values. If the keyword isn't in the domain, you don't get 'penalized'. But of those factors, the domain name carries the greatest weight.

              Visit any reputable SEO conference, forum, etc., and you will hear the same thing unambiguously.

              Mark
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              • Profile picture of the author Centimetro
                Interesting discussion. From my experience, an exact domain name/URL match is in many cases a "free top ranking" (keyword.com will rank high for the search "keyword" with very little relative effort) - beyond that, I'm not sure how much a non-exact match comes into play, but to me this still suggests that the URL may be more significant than the other factors in the list, because none of them seem to provide nearly the same "automatic boost"
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              • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
                Originally Posted by internetmarketer99 View Post

                Daniel,

                I don't know what you're basing your statement on and I'm not going to argue the point with you, but that's just plain bad information.

                Of course a page without the keyword in the domain can outrank a page without it. And vice-versa.

                The point is, the domain name is a higher-value factor than the others. Period.

                These are cumulative values. If the keyword isn't in the domain, you don't get 'penalized'. But of those factors, the domain name carries the greatest weight.

                Visit any reputable SEO conference, forum, etc., and you will hear the same thing unambiguously.

                Mark
                It's simply a glorified myth, and I don't base my statements on what I "hear", but on first hand personal experience.

                I have "impossible" keyword rankings all across the board within several niches.

                Here's one... Google: business consulting

                300,000 monthly searches (according to the google keyword tool), over 40,000,000 competing sites and over 5,000,000 competing sites under quotes. Feel free to check the strength of competition for that term (such as incoming links), you will see it is voraciously absurd.

                None of the 3 top placements (Entrepreneur Magazine, IBM and DanielMolano.com) have the keyword in the domain at all.

                By the way, that was achieved in less than 1 month with a 3 month old site and domain. I have held that position without change for 4 months now.

                And I have similar or better rankings across 3 other niches that report exactly the same thing.

                One of my mentors, who also happened to be a Google employee and search engine algorithm developer once told me: "Never believe in what is said at those SEO sites or forums, their so called facts are quite misleading and their supposed 'advanced' SEO will only do you more harm than good".

                By the looks of it he was right.

                No offense Mark, you probably heard it from a 'reputable' source. But never trust in what people claim until you have experienced it for yourself.

                Other than that, and the comment on backlink source relevance. I would say you nailed everything perfectly.
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                • Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

                  It's simply a glorified myth, and I don't base my statements on what I "hear", but on first hand personal experience.

                  I have "impossible" keyword rankings all across the board within several niches.

                  Here's one... Google: business consulting

                  300,000 monthly searches (according to the google keyword tool), over 40,000,000 competing sites and over 5,000,000 competing sites under quotes. Feel free to check the strength of competition for that term (such as incoming links), you will see it is voraciously absurd.

                  None of the 3 top placements (Entrepreneur Magazine, IBM and DanielMolano.com) have the keyword in the domain at all.

                  By the way, that was achieved in less than 1 month with a 3 month old site and domain. I have held that position without change for 4 months now.

                  And I have similar or better rankings across 3 other niches that report exactly the same thing.

                  One of my mentors, who also happened to be a search engine algorithm developer once told me: "Never believe in what is said at those SEO sites or forums, their so called facts are quite misleading and their supposed 'advanced' SEO will only do you more harm than good".

                  By the looks of it he was right.

                  No offense Mark, you probably heard it from a 'reputable' source. But never trust in what people claim until you have experienced it for yourself.

                  Other than that, and the comment on backlink source relevance. I would say you nailed everything perfectly.
                  Daniel,

                  Perhaps you're misunderstanding me. I'm not suggesting a keyword in a domain will rank you for that keyword, or rank you over other sites simply because it's in the domain.

                  What I'm saying is that of the roughly 100 factors that are calculated to create the 'ordering value' for a page, the domain name is one of the most heavily weighed.

                  Obviously a page gets nothing from that value towards a keyword/phrase that isn't in the domain. And by itself, it's only one of many factors.

                  But the recognized consensus within the industry is that it is the heaviest-weighted factor, and there isn't any controversy or dispute over that.

                  In your example, you are trying to "disprove a negative". The fact that you are able to rank for a keyword that isn't in your domain name does not mean that the domain name isn't a factor. It means that your overall ranking values are high enough to rank you there.

                  All other things being equal, two pages with identical age, on-page optimization, backlinks, etc., one with the keyword in the domain and one without the keyword not in the domain, the first one will outrank the second for that keyword.

                  Mark
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                  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
                    Originally Posted by internetmarketer99 View Post

                    Daniel,

                    Perhaps you're misunderstanding me. I'm not suggesting a keyword in a domain will rank you for that keyword, or rank you over other sites simply because it's in the domain.

                    What I'm saying is that of the roughly 100 factors that are calculated to create the 'ordering value' for a page, the domain name is one of the most heavily weighed.

                    Obviously a page gets nothing from that value towards a keyword/phrase that isn't in the domain. And by itself, it's only one of many factors.

                    But the recognized consensus within the industry is that it is the heaviest-weighted factor, and there isn't any controversy or dispute over that.

                    In your example, you are trying to "disprove a negative". The fact that you are able to rank for a keyword that isn't in your domain name does not mean that the domain name isn't a factor. It means that your overall ranking values are high enough to rank you there.

                    All other things being equal, two pages with identical age, on-page optimization, backlinks, etc., one with the keyword in the domain and one without the keyword not in the domain, the first one will outrank the second for that keyword.

                    Mark
                    Now we're coming to a middle ground.

                    I'm not saying it's not a factor neither.

                    What I'm saying is that, contrary to popular industry belief, it doesn't have that much weight.

                    It does count, but not as much as people think.

                    And if I were to follow the industry standards, I wouldn't have the "impossible" keyword rankings I currently hold.

                    Because according to the "recognized consensus within the industry", the rankings I currently hold are "impossible" or "would take years".

                    When in fact I achieved them in under 1 month.

                    So if you want to follow the industry go ahead, I'm perfectly happy outranking them all.
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                  • Profile picture of the author Sowemimo Oladele
                    Originally Posted by internetmarketer99 View Post


                    All other things being equal, two pages with identical age, on-page optimization, backlinks, etc., one with the keyword in the domain and one without the keyword not in the domain, the first one will outrank the second for that keyword.

                    Mark
                    Hello Daniel,

                    Mark as said it all with the above statement. For your business consulting getting no. 3 rank...If I should have a domain name with businessconsulting.com with exactly the same backlinks and other SEO optimization you have done, I would definetely outrank you.

                    I hope you would accept that in your mind even though you dont want to accept in public
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                    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
                      Originally Posted by Sowemimo Oladele View Post

                      Hello Daniel,

                      Mark as said it all with the above statement. For your business consulting getting no. 3 rank...If I should have a domain name with businessconsulting.com with exactly the same backlinks and other SEO optimization you have done, I would definetely outrank you.

                      I hope you would accept that in your mind even though you dont want to accept in public
                      Under that assumption, which is practically impossible, then obviously I would be outranked. But you would need my model for that.

                      After all it's a factor, just not that powerful. There are many sites with the keyword in the domain name for that term, and they don't even make it to page 1.
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                      • Profile picture of the author Sowemimo Oladele
                        Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

                        Under that assumption, which is practically impossible, then obviously I would be outranked. But you would need my model for that.

                        After all it's a factor, just not that powerful. There are many sites with the keyword in the domain name for that term, and they don't even make it to page 1.
                        .....I got where you are drive at....good you still believe its a factor and that is what i want to here from U. Also I believed your analysis too.

                        Anyways...just to tell you know, I really enjoyed your Article Marketing 102
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            • Profile picture of the author Fernando Veloso
              Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

              The importance of the keyword in the domain is a myth by itself. It's in fact the least important of the on site factors.
              Daniel,

              Last year i bought domain name A with 2 keywords, configured Wordpress and wrote 1 post with Lorem Ipsum latin article. Nothing more. No feeds, no links, no nothing.

              A couple months later decided to test that same keyword on Google and there was this stupid site ranking #2 with no text!!! Just Latin...!

              It was my site and this is a 30 Million competition keyword. The site ranks #1 and #2 right now and never dropped top 5.

              So, a new domain, huge competition, no SEO, no Onpage optimization, nothing besides the "keyworded" domain name.

              Thoughts?

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        • Profile picture of the author AggieMom
          Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

          Nice post, 90% of it is right on the money.
          SOrry for the stuoid question here, but I don't underestand this poin, could u please explain that to me??

          Thanks in advance!
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          • Profile picture of the author davally101
            this a great thread for me as I can manage my time and what I focus into,

            thanks for taking time to explore this,

            dave
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        • Profile picture of the author dburk
          Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

          The only relevance that matters is the anchor text of the backlink, not the relevance/context of the source at all.
          Hi Daniel,

          You seemed to be contradicting yourself in the above statement. The anchor text is part of the content, This simple fact completely negates your assertion that relevance doesn't matter. Your anchor text is an important part of the context of a linking page and if it's not relevant and no other content on the page is relevant then that backlink won't give you any benefit.

          You argument hinges on the flawed implication that an OBL is somehow not part of a page's content, clearly it is part of the page's content. And without this "relevant" content your backlink doesn't help much in ranking.

          Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

          In terms of the source, all that matters is the PageRank (the higher, the better).
          Pagerank is all that matters, well that and how many other OBLs on the same page, but only for passing Pagerank. SERPs aren't ranked by PR, this is easily verified by studying the SERPs. So what is the primary factor in ranking results?: Relevance! Again, something that is apparent simply by observing the SERP.

          This is the reason that many pages have plenty of PR, but very little relevant traffic. And also why, many of those pages don't rank so high in SERP even though they have plenty of PR.

          When it comes to Google's SERP, relevance is the single most important factor, whether you are looking at page titles, headings, OBL anchor text, IBL anchor text, OBL titles, IBL titles or any other elements. To suggest otherwise is simply naive IMHO.
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          • Profile picture of the author smogharp
            I've found the value of a domain name is quite high -- but that the value doesn't really splash over into similar keywords. So its effectiveness is narrow.
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          • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
            Originally Posted by Fernando Veloso View Post

            Daniel,

            Last year i bought domain name A with 2 keywords, configured Wordpress and wrote 1 post with Lorem Ipsum latin article. Nothing more. No feeds, no links, no nothing.

            A couple months later decided to test that same keyword on Google and there was this stupid site ranking #2 with no text!!! Just Latin...!

            It was my site and this is a 30 Million competition keyword. The site ranks #1 and #2 right now and never dropped top 5.

            So, a new domain, huge competition, no SEO, no Onpage optimization, nothing besides the "keyworded" domain name.

            Thoughts?

            What's the monthly searches for that keyword phrase according to the Google keyword tool?

            What's the competition of the term under quotes?

            What's the keyword?

            It sounds like you ranked yourself for one of those useless keywords who no one searches for (or not many people do).

            Otherwise it would be completely impossible to outrank a solid competition with that alone.

            Originally Posted by dburk View Post

            Hi Daniel,

            You seemed to be contradicting yourself in the above statement. The anchor text is part of the content, This simple fact completely negates your assertion that relevance doesn't matter. Your anchor text is an important part of the context of a linking page and if it's not relevant and no other content on the page is relevant then that backlink won't give you any benefit.

            You argument hinges on the flawed implication that an OBL is somehow not part of a page's content, clearly it is part of the page's content. And without this "relevant" content your backlink doesn't help much in ranking.
            Under the assumption that the anchor text of the backlink is "content" then I would agree with your statement.

            But that's the only thing that the Google bot spiders when checking out a backlink. It doesn't check the entire page for relevance.

            If you have a PR9 page about soccer and that precise page links to an internet marketing site with the anchor text "internet marketing strategies". That would bemore powerful than a WF front page backlink with the same anchor text.

            Pagerank is all that matters, well that and how many other OBLs on the same page, but only for passing Pagerank. SERPs aren't ranked by PR, this is easily verified by studying the SERPs. So what is the primary factor in ranking results?: Relevance! Again, something that is apparent simply by observing the SERP.

            This is the reason that many pages have plenty of PR, but very little relevant traffic. And also why, many of those pages don't rank so high in SERP even though they have plenty of PR.

            When it comes to Google's SERP, relevance is the single most important factor, whether you are looking at page titles, headings, OBL anchor text, IBL anchor text, OBL titles, IBL titles or any other elements. To suggest otherwise is simply naive IMHO.
            The PageRank of a page is useless by itself, I agree. It's only taken into account when passing link juice to another page. Be it internally or externally.

            In the eyes of let's say Google, a backlink is considered a "vote", the higher the authority (in this case PageRank) of the "voter", the more powerful the "vote" is.

            But you're right about the PageRank itself not ranking. You could have a PR10 page not even ranking for the keyword it's optimized around.

            Nevertheless, that PR10 page could be the decisive factor in ranking a page it is linking to.

            How do I know this?

            Because I managed to leverage a PR8 backlink from a completely irrelevant source to my niche/subject. And that PR8 backlink alone bumped my rankings 12 pages ahead for a term that has over 11,000,000 competing sites under quotes and 900,000 monthly searches.
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      • Originally Posted by 4morereferrals View Post

        This topic has become of significant interest as of late ...

        What evidence do we have or can link to that supports the above paragraph? Urban Internet Legend?

        Where and when did Matt Cutts make this revelation?

        Id love to expand upon this further.
        Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in June. You can read some of the ongoing discussions at Webmasterworld (Google Changes Treatment of PR 'Saved' by rel=nofollow Sculpting) and Danny Sullivans article at Search Engine Land (Google Loses "Backwards Compatibility" On Paid Link Blocking & PageRank Sculpting).

        Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author Tom Brite
    Great information you have here and good job you havegiven a general meaning of each, perfect for any noob.

    However the whole no follow thing ive personally proved to be wrong a few times in the google search engine hence why i get links from both dofollow and nofollow without caring too much!

    Tom Brite
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    • Originally Posted by Tom Brite View Post

      Great information you have here and good job you havegiven a general meaning of each, perfect for any noob.

      However the whole no follow thing ive personally proved to be wrong a few times in the google search engine hence why i get links from both dofollow and nofollow without caring too much!

      Tom Brite
      Tom,

      What is it you've proved to be wrong?

      Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author Fernando Veloso
    IMHO the nofollow atribute is/was/will be just a way to track webmasters.

    John Doe, owner of a powerful website does not know what's a nofollow tag, so this serves very well the purposes of Google to track avid webmasters, nothing more.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Don't care about those tags, don't use them, and frankly, never saw a proven technique of what they can do to hurt-improve your rankings.

    Fernando
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  • Profile picture of the author Jimerson Farveez
    Great summarized info, Let me take prinout of it,.

    Thxs man
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  • Profile picture of the author Floyd Bogart
    Would say the relative truth of the initial post is higher than most on this subject. And that's about the best you can say on this topic where much is nebulous as that is how the Big G wants it!!

    One point I would make is that the importance of the domain's relevance is more about the CTR and therefore the traffic we get from our rankings (which is what we are working for anyway, right?!) unless there is a dead tie with another site and then I think a good keyword rich domain might give an edge over a more general or random domain in the rankings.
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  • Profile picture of the author Floyd Bogart
    The No-Follow debate will rage for some time to come I think.

    Keep in mind that many sites that are "known" to be No-Follow have areas that are Do-Follow. Squidoo is one. People are constantly stating that it is completely No-Follow, and it just ain't so.

    Don't believe me? Do a few searches for threads by TheFluffaNutta on the topic and get it straight from the Squid's beak...
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  • Profile picture of the author twitterguru
    All a keyword in a domain does is say - this site is about this subject. It's part of the jigsaw but not 100% necessary.
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  • Profile picture of the author icefan
    Great information, thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author juggernautbitch
    Good post. I think the most important strategy is to maintain a diverse backlink profile with links form numerous sources, domains and IPs
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    It's funny, because sitting on the Top 10 of a 4 word keyphrase I'm interested in (with 4,400 exact searches a month) is the front page of a Wordpress blog with NO CONTENT on it!

    From what I can tell, there are no backlinks to the site (I've checked Yahoo! Site Explorer and Smart PageRank).

    The only thing they appear to have done with the site is changed the blog title to the 4 word keyphrase, and the domain name is the 4 word keyphrase, .net. (The blog still has the default Wordpress theme!)

    And yet it's in the Top 10 for this four word keyphrase, in a reasonably competitive and definitely profitable niche.

    This tells me that, at least for longer tails (this one contains four words), Google gives pretty strong weight to the domain name + name of the blog, when both match exactly with the keywords.

    Personally, I'd love to buy this blog, but the whois information is protected. If they can get into the Top 10 with NOTHING but the right title and domain name, just think what they could do if they actually bothered to do something with it!

    And no, I'm not telling. Not a chance.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

      Under the assumption that the anchor text of the backlink is "content" then I would agree with your statement.

      But that's the only thing that the Google bot spiders when checking out a backlink. It doesn't check the entire page for relevance.

      If you have a PR9 page about soccer and that precise page links to an internet marketing site with the anchor text "internet marketing strategies". That would bemore powerful than a WF front page backlink with the same anchor text.

      The PageRank of a page is useless by itself, I agree. It's only taken into account when passing link juice to another page. Be it internally or externally.

      In the eyes of let's say Google, a backlink is considered a "vote", the higher the authority (in this case PageRank) of the "voter", the more powerful the "vote" is.

      But you're right about the PageRank itself not ranking. You could have a PR10 page not even ranking for the keyword it's optimized around.

      Nevertheless, that PR10 page could be the decisive factor in ranking a page it is linking to.

      How do I know this?

      Because I managed to leverage a PR8 backlink from a completely irrelevant source to my niche/subject. And that PR8 backlink alone bumped my rankings 12 pages ahead for a term that has over 11,000,000 competing sites under quotes and 900,000 monthly searches.
      Hi Daniel,

      I happy to see that we agree on some things.

      I agree powerful and relevant backlinks can certainly boost your ranking, but you seem to imply that this is the single most important factor. While I agree it is an important factor, there are many factors and collectively they add up to a total relevancy score. I believe that extremely competitive keywords demand additional factors beyond the power of high PR backlinks.

      For an example lets use a keyword very similar to the one you cited in your post. "Business Solutions" a keyword that is at least as competitive in every way. I could argue that Google has identified this as a keyword that has great commercial value and has created a page that specifically targets this keyword and promoted in many ways including a link to it from their most powerful PR10 page (the home page for Google.com). Surely no one would be able to outrank them, right?

      Could it be possible that Google themselves can be outranked, seemingly by using a keyword domain name. It seems that the keyword domain is a really important factor since neither their backlinks nor their on-page optimization appear to be superior to Google's efforts.
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      • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
        Originally Posted by dburk View Post

        Hi Daniel,

        I happy to see that we agree on some things.

        I agree powerful and relevant backlinks can certainly boost your ranking, but you seem to imply that this is the single most important factor. While I agree it is an important factor, there are many factors and collectively they add up to a total relevancy score. I believe that extremely competitive keywords demand additional factors beyond the power of high PR backlinks.

        For an example lets use a keyword very similar to the one you cited in your post. "Business Solutions" a keyword that is at least as competitive in every way. I could argue that Google has identified this as a keyword that has great commercial value and has created a page that specifically targets this keyword and promoted in many ways including a link to it from their most powerful PR10 page (the home page for Google.com). Surely no one would be able to outrank them, right?

        Could it be possible that Google themselves can be outranked, seemingly by using a keyword domain name. It seems that the keyword domain is a really important factor since neither their backlinks nor their on-page optimization appear to be superior to Google's efforts.
        I definitely agree that the most competitive terms take much more than powerful backlinks.

        In fact, that's only about 30% of what is needed to rank for those terms.

        I just don't believe the keyword in domain is all it has been hyped up to be.

        That ranking you speak off, check their other SEO factors to see why they are really outranking Google for that term.

        As for outranking Google, it's definitely possible.

        Matt Cutts in the WordPress seminar said he uses WP over Blogger himself, that they just don't hard code things like that to their advantage.

        Otherwise all their properties would be PR10, and they are not.

        But yes, there's much more to it than just backlinks.
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      It's funny, because sitting on the Top 10 of a 4 word keyphrase I'm interested in (with 4,400 exact searches a month) is the front page of a Wordpress blog with NO CONTENT on it!

      From what I can tell, there are no backlinks to the site (I've checked Yahoo! Site Explorer and Smart PageRank).

      The only thing they appear to have done with the site is changed the blog title to the 4 word keyphrase, and the domain name is the 4 word keyphrase, .net. (The blog still has the default Wordpress theme!)

      And yet it's in the Top 10 for this four word keyphrase, in a reasonably competitive and definitely profitable niche.

      This tells me that, at least for longer tails (this one contains four words), Google gives pretty strong weight to the domain name + name of the blog, when both match exactly with the keywords.

      Personally, I'd love to buy this blog, but the whois information is protected. If they can get into the Top 10 with NOTHING but the right title and domain name, just think what they could do if they actually bothered to do something with it!

      And no, I'm not telling. Not a chance.
      Grab an old domain using a WP blog with relative authority .

      Keyword phrase in h1 tag, title tag, meta keywords tag, meta description tag. First phrase of content and every 100 words.

      Do about 50 Angela type backlinks with anchor text for the respective keyword and you'll outrank them.

      It's only weighed in that heavily because no one else is going for it.
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      • Profile picture of the author Intrepreneur
        Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

        Grab an old domain using a WP blog with relative authority .

        Keyword phrase in h1 tag, title tag, meta keywords tag, meta description tag. First phrase of content and every 100 words.

        Do about 50 Angela type backlinks with anchor text for the respective keyword and you'll outrank them.

        It's only weighed in that heavily because no one else is going for it.
        What about this caffiene update.. is it all going to change Daniel?
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        • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
          Originally Posted by Intrepreneur View Post

          What about this caffiene update.. is it all going to change Daniel?
          Caffeine Google loves my SEO.

          That business consulting ranking I hold position #5 right now, go check on Caffeine, I'm #1.
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          • Profile picture of the author Intrepreneur
            Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

            Caffeine Google loves my SEO.

            That business consulting ranking I hold position #5 right now, go check on Caffeine, I'm #1.
            hmmm it's scaring me that I might lose all of my rankings when the update comes and I've only just started profiting from my SEO efforts.

            I don't wanna be scared
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            • Profile picture of the author Daniel Molano
              Originally Posted by Intrepreneur View Post

              hmmm it's scaring me that I might lose all of my rankings when the update comes and I've only just started profiting from my SEO efforts.

              I don't wanna be scared
              Go see for yourself. Caffeine Google is currently held here: Google

              I can't wait for that update, its boosts every single one of my rankings across all my niches.
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              • Profile picture of the author peter gibson
                Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

                Go see for yourself. Caffeine Google is currently held here: Google

                I can't wait for that update, its boosts every single one of my rankings across all my niches.

                Amen. Each of my sites gets a very significant increase from caffeine. I hope the update happens soon!!!
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              • Profile picture of the author Intrepreneur
                Originally Posted by Daniel Molano View Post

                Go see for yourself. Caffeine Google is currently held here: Google

                I can't wait for that update, its boosts every single one of my rankings across all my niches.
                Oh I'v been there and spent the time between my last post and this post doing a bit more analysis.

                I will rank, but just need to up the ante a little bit with some of the background tasks.

                Guess I should have spent more time before coming to a bad conclusion.

                Thanks Daniel.

                Mark.
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  • Profile picture of the author runner
    Useful post!

    What is your opinion about two alternatives:

    1. A backlink with anchor text and
    2. Just a domain as a link, for instance on the blog comment

    When the anchor text directs the effect for that keyword, how does
    a domain without an anchor text work? How does a search engine
    handle these links?
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    • Originally Posted by runner View Post

      Useful post!

      What is your opinion about two alternatives:

      1. A backlink with anchor text and
      2. Just a domain as a link, for instance on the blog comment

      When the anchor text directs the effect for that keyword, how does
      a domain without an anchor text work? How does a search engine
      handle these links?
      First, you must realize that rankings are for *pages* not domains. So when you say "how does a domain without an anchor text work?" what you are referring to is the home page or index page that the domain points to. I think you mean "how does a link without anchor text work?" In that case, the link itself is also the anchor text, and basically squanders much of the ranking value that the link is able to convey. And don't confuse the actual link, which is where you go when you click it, with the anchor text, which is what you see as the link.

      If you're trying to rank for particular keywords/phrases - and you must be, otherwise you cannot optimize your efforts - then you *always* want to use your keywords/phrases and variations as your anchor text. It tells Google where to focus the backlink value.

      If you have just a link with no anchor text, then there is nothing to tell Google where to 'assign' it's value and you are diluting it across the page.

      In short, backlink value is 'focused' by the anchor text.

      Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Doug
    Great job in the analysis and key notes for us to be aware of, internetmarketer99!
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  • Profile picture of the author caliray
    A well written and informative article. I'd add regarding backlinks that I've seen a lot of sites with 0 page rank showing up in Google's first page for fairly competitive keywords.

    They did it by having a ton of backlinks, many of them from very low page rank sites. So, I have concluded that Google places quite a lot of value on backlinks. Probably because many won't do the work needed to get them.
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    • Yes, many PR-0 backlinks will do it, without conveying Pagerank. In addition, backlinks from higher-value, higher-PR pages that are "NoFollowed" will do that as well.

      Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author janicejan
      Originally Posted by caliray View Post

      A well written and informative article. I'd add regarding backlinks that I've seen a lot of sites with 0 page rank showing up in Google's first page for fairly competitive keywords.

      They did it by having a ton of backlinks, many of them from very low page rank sites. So, I have concluded that Google places quite a lot of value on backlinks. Probably because many won't do the work needed to get them.
      Very well observed. I'm looking forward to adopt the same tactic as an experiment. Diversifying excites me!

      By the way, brilliant post Mark, great reference to keep to heart. Perhaps that will change my outlook on NoFollow from now on.
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  • Profile picture of the author JBorhez
    WOW! Thanks for all the great info guys!!
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  • Profile picture of the author jasonmorgan
    page one of this thread is pure hotness.

    good bump
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    I'm all about that bass.

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