It is interesting that we attribute human-like qualities to Google, and that is because there are indeed humans running Google with their own strengths and imperfections just like us. As we come understand the “Google thinking” about such topics as link building, we can better position our sites to perform well in the “eyes of Google”. So another human-like quality! :)
When Sergei and Larry first began their search engine, they found that important pages could be better identified by quantifying the links pointing to different pages, both in terms of quantity and strength. An inward bound link was “stronger” if the page linking in also had many links pointing to it, especially stronger ones. What is interesting about the algorithm itself is it uses recursion, which is defined by Wikipedia as “ a method where the solution to a problem depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem.” The strength of a page is based on the strength of other pages which are in turned based on each other. Did you get all that? :)
What started to happen is people found they could artificially create strength by pointing many links at the same page, and using the same anchor text. Overnight, the reason people would link to a page became clouded. They were no longer doing it because they wanted to link to the page, but instead because they wanted to send link “juice” to the page so it would rank better. Interesting how links now take on the qualities of a beverage! :)
Ever since then there have been continuing attacks on their algorithm, and Google has fought a constant battle. They started by doing things like banning sites. That didn’t work so well because there were 100 new sites popping up to replace the banned site. They responded to reciprocal and 3-way linking schemes with algorithmic changes that allowed them to find patterns of reciprocal linking. They integrated features into their algorithm to help them identify paid links meant to influence pagerank, because big business sprung from the buying and selling of pagerank that still exists today as well as some terrible SEO practices.
And in the last year or so Google has demonstrated they can somewhat determine which links were placed by the author of the site versus those easily added by a third party. For example, there are links known as “profile links” where it is easy to register in a forum or community site and include a link, so in this case a third party added the link without the consent or editorial review of the site owner.
In the case of directories, the key phrase that means trouble is auto approval directories, which in the old days were called “link farms”. Of course, this just means that the site lets virtually any site be listed and the link goes live without passing an editorial review.
So Google loves links that were placed intentionally by the site owner. When you have a site that has good editing, and is not filled with bad links that did not pass an editorial review, Google can pretty well determine that now. As a directory owner, you can’t just take submissions and approve listings with little thought. You need to be selective. Sometimes lower quality links can be included if you don’t go crazy with it IF you are making sure you actually review the site and give it a proper title and a unique description that you wrote!
So we have talked about what Google thinks about link building. It is a large topic with lots more that could be covered, and next we will be talking about how to better acquire links that Google will like so you can rank better!
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