Search engine optimization is hard work and every day it gets harder! The search engines change the rules and new technology makes time-honored methods for getting good natural rankings obsolete. Lately, building in-bound links has gotten very tough because of the “nofollow” attribute that many large sites and even directories have been adding to their links.
If you haven’t heard about it, apparently, some unscrupulous people were spamming the comments’ sections of blogs and even wikipedia.org by adding multitudes of links back to their sites. They wanted to increase their Google Pageranks and for a while, it worked.
To discourage this practice, the owners of these sites started using the “nofollow” attribute because Google and other search engines discount any links coming to your site with the rel=“nofollow” attribute in the anchor tag. They may follow the link to your site but they won’t record it. With the “nofollow” attribute added to all the links, the links then lose their attraction for spammers.
Of course, this makes it much better for those of us who want to read genuine comments and articles without having to put up with spam. However, it also means that submitting your site to a directory or placing a link back to your site in an article or blog comment might not get you the in-bound link credit that you were hoping for; and if you’re not very good at reading the source code of the pages you visit, it can be hard to tell if the links you see are no-follow or not.
Luckily, there are lots of wonderful clever people out there making life a little easier for us all. One of the most useful tools that has come along is: Search Status. It’s a great device that sits on your Firefox browser and provides information on search optimization efforts.
One of my favorite features is the “Highlight Nofollow Links”. As I surf the web, links with nofollow tags on them show up like this:
So, when I’m looking for places to submit a web site, I can tell at a glance if a directory listing is going to be valuable for attracting both human and robot visitors.
Search Status also features the Alexa toolbar so if you don’t want to send your web statistics to Alexa, Search Status is not for you. If that doesn’t bother you, you can find Search Status at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/321 along with lots of other cool add-ons for Firefox or you can go straight to Craig Raw’s site at www.quirk.biz/searchstatus/. Which are your favorite tools? Let me know.
Are there broken links on your site? Have you removed some old pages while forgetting to clean up the links pointing to those pages? Did you change your file structure and leave some legacy links behind? You may not even know if you have these issues, but the search engines do.
Do these broken links affect your search engine rankings? Out of curiosity, I asked some colleagues in the industry this question and the general consensus was they don’t even worry about it as an organic factor, which leads me to think they do not believe this affects rankings. Well, I am fairly certain this is incorrect for a number of reasons. Broken links can degrade your rankings on a site wide basis. I recently wrote on the fact that search engines rank individual pages and not whole sites, but I also mentioned there are a few site wide ranking factors. I believe this is one of those factors.
Let’s set aside for a moment that having broken links on your site is bad for a wide variety of user experience reasons and focus on why it is bad specifically for search engine rankings.Read More
SES has come and gone and it was a wealth of information. You can find some good coverage of the sessions at Search Engine Strategies ’07 New York Session Coverage Roundup. For me, it’s the linking sessions that catch my attention.
What it basically comes down to is that quantity of links is no longer a major factor. Quality is what counts. It seems that the search engines are taking into account the user experience. This means that it is vital to acquire links that are relevant to your topic. Find the experts in your field, the authorities and get them to link to you. How do you do this? One way is submit articles to the industry forums and newsletters. Another is to use press releases and PR services to get your name out there. Just keep relevancy in mind… if it’s not related to your product or service, don’t do it.
Take some time to review the session coverage for Link Building Basics and Linking Strategies as they are filled with information and tools that you can use for improving your rankings through linking. One important thing to remember is that building links takes time, anytime I see a site that acquires a lot of links in a short period of time, I get suspicious. There is no quick fix, what we are aiming at is long term web presence and credibility.