How not to improve your search ranking, part 1*

The internet and ‘search’ revolves around hyperlinks. Including links on a webpage allows readers to navigate to other pages without having to type a new url (uniform resource locator, or web address) each time they wish to change the page they are viewing.

They serve a variety of purposes and, when used correctly, increase the quality of a page. However, from the perspective of search engine optimisation (SEO), they potentially route traffic to an external site and can have a detrimental impact on search rankings.

Having links pointing to a website is good for its own SEO. It helps the search engines locate the site and if lots of places link to a particular page, the search engines would expect this to be a ‘useful’ page. This is strengthened if the page which is linking is already popular itself. This is strengthened further if those sources are of a similar nature, and further still if the two sites mutually link to each other.

For example, if a new website (site A) is about widget x, and links to a well established site (site B) also about widget x, this is strengthened if site B links back (backlinks) to site A.

When the internet was in its infancy, websites would be ‘rewarded’ by search providers if they had lots of links. Over time, designers would therefore create lots of arbitrary links to improve their ranking, until ‘spamming’ negated any impact this had. Consequently, search providers started penalising sites which had many links without backlinks.

With regard to *this* site (as I learn web design and SEO), I updated the ‘about’ pages to include links to references in the media in order to evidence my work and create an element of trust. With only a few of those sites linking back, I suspected that the overall impact on the search ranking would be detrimental. And this appeared to be the case. To quantify this, a search term that previously placed my site onto page 4 subsequently placed it on page 6.

This is contradictory to the evidence portrayed by seomoz in the video (blog here), which implies there is a positive correlation between the number of external links on a page and higher rankings.

 

In my quest to enhance my understanding, I have the opportunity to remove the links to see what happens. I don’t want to remove them as I believe they enhance the quality of the content and they help develop that level of trust. However, I am interested to establish if the ‘damage’ is permanent and irrecoverable, together with ways in which I can subsequently improve the page rankings.

*I don’t yet know how many parts there will be

Advertisements