Brad wrote an interesting piece today which got me thinking about the topic of linking out, authority scores, pagerank leakage and all those old chestnuts.
Lots of papers out there on PageRank and theories and counter theories on how linking out can effect your PR adversely/positively and all that, so I’m not going to rehash any of those arguments.
I have to confess, there was a time when I was kinda obsessed with the whole SEO PR leakage thing too, worring about ‘bleeding’ precious PR and all that jazz, however I do think the ‘game’ has moved on a little, in terms of the SE algo’s have matured to a more considered examination of what is and what is not a good or a bad page worth ranking. Why do I think this? Well just go and look at a few well ranking sites and see how they link out. One immediate one that springs to mind is Wikipedia, although their recent decision to stick a nofollow tag on their outbounds may come back and bite them ( I hope) 😉.
Following on, I was looking at a few blogrolls on various blogs just the other day, most had a few links here and there numbering between 6 and 15. Some like Bill Slawski’s SEOByTheSea had a big long blogroll in excess of 30 links.I don’t have Bills ranking figures to hand, but I’m sure he hasn’t been too adversely affected by linking out so extensively.He provides quality viewpoints that others link to. If a Search Engine happened to penalise on the back of such extensive outlinking then it would, IMO be a little harsh, not to mention poor for its users. Its how the web works after all, links links links!
That said, I think generally it might be a sensible idea to maybe look at ensuring perhaps, that ones blogroll, especially if its pretty long, doesn’t appear on every single page for example, as this could help cut down on any sameiness factor, which could be a determinant in any subsequent ranking considerations. I’m thinking duplicate block/content issues here.
It may also be useful to bear in mind, that not all sites have an equal footing in terms of any authorative weighting system, so what one site may be able to get away with, may not necessarily apply to another with a lower hub/authority score.
One thing we can all be assured of is that this ranking in the Search Engines game isn’t a static target, it moves and shifts with subtleties that we mightn’t see for months or weeks after its happened. Toolbar PR for example is widely recognised as not being a true representation of ones actual pagerank, which again isn’t the magic bullet that people once assumed it to be.
Sure, links do indeed power the net, but its now a question of the types of links you are getting too. The days of mutliple footer links from low quality sites being able to boost you up a serp are long gone.
The advent of Digg, Reddit, Technorati, MyBlogLog, Myspace and all manner of other different types of Social Media platform that enable mass participation and citation dictate that the ground is a whole lot more fuid than it once was. These too are excellent pointers towards what is and what isn’t current. Who is ‘buzzing’ and who is not. Matt Cutts wrote a blog post about writing articles that users will love the core message being that if you do then people will pick them up in their readers and link back to you and talk about what you have to say – rocket science huh? 😉
I’m reminded of something I read some time back. It was a thing called Block Level Analysis a process whereby a page is broken down into various sections and elements. The condensed version is that some links are worth more than others dependant upon where they are within a page. So navigational links may not be as semantically valid as a link found within a block of text in the upper part or main body of a block of text; if this, or a variation of were factored into an algorithm, then the placement or length of any blogroll ,could well be academic in any case.
From time to time, maybe we are all guilty of worrying about how a search engine may or may not interpret what we do or say. I’ve worked in affiliate spaces. I know that you can get cabin fever riding the ups and downs of the Search engine algo change waves. In many ways too there was a time when you just had to, there was no other way, if you wanted to keep ahead you had little other choice. They were continually evolving and we had to second guess their movements in terms of how they were weighting this aspect or that. Today, whilst its a whole lot harder, it is also a whole lot more straightforward too. The vagueries and theories relative to KW densities and tag structure and word placement are largely on the wane. The search engines seem to be applying a hell of a lot more weight towards what is current and who is creating buzz and new link juice. Authorities and white lists have been established, probably via some DMoz or Y! directory snapshot. New sites wanting to perform well in the competitive spaces, better be pretty hot. If they are, then they will create that buzz and will be talked about within social media spaces. Everything that follows will have been earnt by dint of being linkworthy.
IMHO of course 🙂