Will a long Blogroll flush your site down the search engine ranking toilet?

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) πŸ˜‰.

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? πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

Rob Watts
Kickstart your business today - Get an SEO Consultation or just talk to Rob about your online aspirations. With over 20 years experience in building traffic he's pretty much encountered most markets and scenarios
Posted on: 23rd January 2007, by :

10 thoughts on “Will a long Blogroll flush your site down the search engine ranking toilet?

  1. Hi, you share a lot of interesting info and thought maybe you could enlighten us on something…Technorati. Why do links leak out…Like here today and gone tomorrow. One day my score reflects my progress and in just a few days links leak out and my score goes backwards, not retaining what I had just gained. Have you noticed this, too? Can’t be all that accurate!

  2. Hi Robyn

    Thanks for commenting on the blog, I’m by no means an authority on how technorati works but I can at least try and answer your question; although it is largely supposition and generalised opinion! πŸ™‚

    Im not entirely sure what you mean by leak out, but assuming that you mean your links come and go, I’d say it may be related to the fact that Technorati is a newsy type site and places a bi emphasis on freshness.

    Lots of blogs ping technorati using the url eg http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping this alerts technorati to new content and perhaps enables them to see new links to various sites.Some blogs also carry the technorati script code too, which may well parse the content of pages and phone home with what it sees.

    I couldn’t find any info on their faq butI’d hazard a guess that in order to keep things ‘fresh’ and current they give less ‘weight’ to older links. When you view technorati in a ‘newsy’ type way, it adds credence to this assertion. Old, for want of a better expression, to them at least is yesterdays news and simply not as important as newer stuff.

    In a general sense though, Im sure that they monitor things like, links into a domain, and use a combination of linked in sources, frequency, age and diversity as a yardstick for determining whether or not a blog should appear in its most featured lists. At least, from an algorithmic perspective thats how I’d imagine them to work. It would be a good idea to use as broad a range of metrics as possible, simply because these are less easy to game or manipulate by 3rd parties.

  3. Hi Rob,
    Glad I helped inspire this thoughtful post. (Thanks for the tip on my comment program, too.) I guess as a writer, I like to think that strong content is the best “link strategy”. If you have all the links in the world but nothing to read on your blog, what’s been accomplished in the end? Is that too simplistic?

  4. Hey Brad, thanks for commenting

    >If you have all the links in the world but nothing to read on your blog, what’s been accomplished in the end? Is that too simplistic?

    Absolutely.To chant an old mantra, it is indeed content content content that matters.

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Unless I were an adsense splogger perhaps πŸ˜‰

  5. Rob, thanks for your very generous and thoughtful response. I read Liz Strauss’s concern on this issue and wrote two letters to leaders at Technorati. They didn’t provide her a real answer. Thinking that you are an expert, I just wanted to see what your thoughts are. I can see that older links might be dropped at some point, so maybe you’ve solved the mystery.

    On the other hand, Like Brad, I’m more concerned about content. I’m a lover of language and great ways to express myself and find that since I began blogging I’m writing more with readers in mind and I’m growing as a writer. Folks like Brad are a real shot in the arm!

  6. Hiya Robyn

    Well, I’m not one to think of myself as an expert, but thanks for the vote of confidence! Its good to know I at least sound like I know what I’m talking about πŸ˜‰

    You are very welcome too of course, I just hope that I added something to your knowledge pot in the process.

    Much of this stuff is about thinking how they *might* do something and then applying a little tech knowhow to test the hypotheses.

    All good fun πŸ™‚

  7. Rob, you definitely stretched my dendrites and I’m growing in a sorely needed area — technology. πŸ™‚

    Just today I received a message from Feed Medic that something isn’t right with feed because it needs my email address… Gotta go — the learning curve is really high for someone who never knew HTML, or the newer languages. They’re Greek to me! πŸ™‚

  8. Isn’t MyBlogLog wonderful at helping to connect to others, just about to link through to your tracking script.

    You might appreciate my post on “How a blogroll can kill your pagerank”

    I link out a lot, use a dofollow plugin, have tons of duplicate content but don’t use a blogroll. I will be building various linking out pages, but nothing sitewide, or on the front page.

    If you cultivate juice, you can share more out where it is deserved, from within your content.

  9. Rob, I’m on a high learning curve, and your insights really help. I added folks to my Blog Roll after I saw some great sites on the Z-List that I wanted to visit again. Now, I’m naming them as contacts in MyBlogLog and that helps me not to lengthen the Blog Roll and at the same time gives me easy access.

  10. Andy, I enjoyed the article, thanks for stopping by.

    I agree in principle yes, if you have something to say and people like it or hate it even, then you will attract a link or 2.

    As regards pagerank and ranking. I agree theoretically (according to the original paper) if you link out lots with this huge blog roll on every page and no one links back, or you don’t have inlinks in sufficient numbers,then the classical leakage thing should occur.How this affects ranking is (I think) related also, to ones authority and trust scores too. If you don’t have those (as well as all the other factors) then you won’t rank either, at least thats how it appears to me today on the 28th January 2007!

    The fun thing about all this stuff is that its by and large a moving target. It nevers stays still, there is always a little twist and turn. Oops, thats a bit of a regurgitation on what I said earlier.

    Hi Robyn, that makes good sense. The thing with all this stuff, is that its tempting to do too much, simply because you are thinking search engines, search engines, search engines. Links do power the web, they are a form of currency even and as Andy referenced too, they can also appear to have an adverse affect; especially if you go OTT and don’t have the requisite balancing inward factors.

    There are a myriad of ways to mask these effects, nofollow, jump urls and javascript are 3 that spring to mind. However the more tech minded search savvy may well sneer and sulk at such an audacity!I guess most of us do this blogging thing cos we like it, not because we want to conquer the world or anything like that. Some of this stuff is almost poison chaliced. Once youve drunk from the fountain of knowledge its difficult to ignore the realities; even more so if you are a geek!;)

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