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Monday, April 9, 2007

It’s About Links, Stupid!

I just finished reading a report on Search Engine Optimization and what factors SEO experts say are currently the most important in getting a site well-ranked on Google.

A summary of the report indicates that there are 10 primary factors that affect how well a site will be ranked by Google. But, look more closely and it’s clear that the overwhelming favorite is links, whether inbound, outbound or internal. Of the Top 10 ranking factors, 7 relate to links.

Do I agree with the report? Largely, yes. What we see with the sites we’ve optimized is that many older sites we optimize perform fairly well purely on edits we made to the site to improve keyword density and tags (an older standard for SEO). But, sites wanting position on extremely competitive keywords or sites that are relatively new need the extra help of a strong link-building campaign to convince Google that the client’s site is important enough to be ranked on the first page for a given keyword search.

The secret to Google’s ranking formula is basic in understanding. The search engine is prioritizing sites based on how important they seem to a particular topic. To Google, a site’s importance is demonstrated by how many other important web sites link to a given page on your web site. If you make widgets, and 15 (hypothetical number) highly visited sites about widgets link to your page describing your widgets, then there’s a good chance Google will deem your site important enough to list it on the first page when visitors search for widgets.

The concept is simple. It’s the execution that can get tricky.

Read more about how not having good incoming links could permanently damage your site's position on Google.