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Not just PageRank: Understanding what links do for your site

From: SEO: Link Building in Depth

Video: Not just PageRank: Understanding what links do for your site

In an earlier video I mentioned PageRank, Google's method for assigning a value to web pages. It was an incredibly important development in search engine technology and we'll be looking at it in more detail in the next video. But I think it's important to understand that SEO is not all about PageRank. There's a lot of talk in the SEO business about PageRank and you may hear a couple of conflicting opinions, that PageRank is everything or the PageRank is irrelevant. The truth is somewhere in-between. So in this video, I want to quickly discuss the different ways in which links pointing to a website can help you.

Not just PageRank: Understanding what links do for your site

In an earlier video I mentioned PageRank, Google's method for assigning a value to web pages. It was an incredibly important development in search engine technology and we'll be looking at it in more detail in the next video. But I think it's important to understand that SEO is not all about PageRank. There's a lot of talk in the SEO business about PageRank and you may hear a couple of conflicting opinions, that PageRank is everything or the PageRank is irrelevant. The truth is somewhere in-between. So in this video, I want to quickly discuss the different ways in which links pointing to a website can help you.

Links do a number of things for you. First, they help the search engines find your site. The more links you have pointing to the site, the more often they will stumble across the site. They use the links to figure out site popularity, that's where PageRank comes in. They help search engines to index most of your site too, if you have links from outside the site pointing into your site. The keywords in the links help the search engines figure out what the site is about. And forget about the search engines for a moment, links can also bring visitors to your site directly, regardless of their effect on search engine ranking.

As I explained in my previous course, Analyzing Your Website to Improve SEO, the way to get your site indexed is to point links to it. The search engines will follow these links, find your site and probably crawl and index it. A site with no links pointing to it is in trouble. It will probably never be indexed. After all, if nobody cares enough about the site to link to it, the search engines might wonder why they should care about it either. Of course, the more links the better. More links do several things.

The search engines will consider the site to be more important, they will index the site more often and they're likely to index more pages. A single link might eventually make the major search engines aware of your site. A hundred links could make them aware sooner and will give them more reason to index your site. Of course, this is closely related to Google PageRank and similar systems in other search engines. PageRank is a way for Google to assign a value to a page based on the page's link popularity. The more links pointing to the site, the higher the value, and this value can be used as a sort of tie breaker when comparing pages that all seem to be a good fit for a search query.

But PageRank also looks at the value of the pages providing links. Popular pages, pages with high PageRanks, provide more value through their links than the less popular pages. Links can also help you get more of your site indexed. By pointing links not just to the homepage, but to pages inside the site, you're telling the search engine that these internal pages are important to other people, so they might be worth indexing. Now here's a critical function of links that are often overlooked.

A link is good, but a link with keywords is far better. Keywords in the link's anchor text tell the search engines what the reference page is about. This is a critical concept that we'll cover in a video later on. In some ways, it's more important than the link popularity. You could have thousands of badly key worded links, and do nothing, whereas a few dozen nicely key worded links might push your site to the top in the search results. In fact, because keywords are so important, this means that internal links, links within your website are also very important.

Most of this course is about getting links from other sites pointing to your site. But remember that internal links from page to page within your own site can also help you in the search results, if they're nicely keyworded, because the keywords help the search engines figure out what the reference pages are about. Finally, let's not forget the original purpose of links. To help visitors, actual people, not search engines find your website. That's not what this course is about, but it's worth remembering that links are useful from a totally non-SEO standpoint.

The right link in the right place can bring people to your site.

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SEO: Link Building in Depth

30 video lessons · 11746 viewers

Peter Kent
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