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Are Back-links The Trump Card?


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8 replies to this topic

#1 Marty456

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 02:25 PM

I recently typed into Google what I imagine to be a reasonably popular search term and was amazed to see that the relevant words hardly featured on the homepage of the top ranking site (an investment publication). However I did notice from Yahoo Site Explorer that the website has more than 25,000 back-links - most of which seem to be coming from articles that have been written by the publication itself!

Does optimised copy on the homepage count for nothing thesedays? Has Google been seduced by the back-links brigade?



#2 Jill

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 03:32 PM

On-page stuff definitely still counts for something, but yep, good anchor text from authoritative sites could certainly be considered the trump card.

#3 qwerty

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 04:07 PM

Google are the folks who made backlinks a big deal.

#4 Michael Martinez

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 05:25 PM

QUOTE(qwerty @ Dec 1 2009, 01:07 PM) View Post
Google are the folks who made backlinks a big deal.


No, it's the SEO community who made backlinks a big deal. The algorithm doesn't necessarily favor links, just most SEO strategies.

You can achieve competitive rankings through on-page factors but most people refuse to do it either because they believe the resulting pages would be ugly or because they fear they would be penalized (which would only happen if you were sneaky and deceptive).

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page should never have foisted nonsense like PageRank on the Web but it didn't really have that much impact on search results to begin with. Once SEOs learned they could influence Google rankings with link anchor text they began investing more time and effort into link building.

And that isn't to say that link building is really a good investment. There are plenty of people who show up in SEO forums (including Highrankings) who complain that after (1-x years of) link building their sites don't appear in Google. Clearly, not all links pass value any more -- and some links now get you into trouble (according to recent comments from Google).

There was a time when we could have blamed Google for the mess (and I often did that) but now it's more the SEO community's fault for hanging on to a bad idea long after it should have been abandoned.

People will continue to pursue links in volume because that is one of the most pervasive of [url=http://www.highrankings.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=15499]Seo Myths[/url] -- that you MUST obtain as many links as possible in order to compete. That's really only true in a very small number of commercial queries.

#5 rjcarr

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 06:14 PM

I tend to think that back links are WAY overrated. I don't have a lot of proof, but I think Google is past back links. The truth is, this was manipulated just like keyword meta tags were. So Google stays ahead of the manipulators by using other factors to determine how your page/site should be ranked when searching.

The only thing I can use as proof is our own site. Very few back links, none from major sites, and yet we rank number 1 on several key terms. Based on what I have observed, it looks like Google is able to determine the nature of our site, and then associate related terms that might not even be on our site, but are related to what we do. But it could be the entire body of work, so to speak, of our site, that makes a difference to Google.

This is just a hunch, but I definitely think back links don't play nearly as big a role as people think they do. At least our site doesn't.

#6 Marty456

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 05:01 AM

Some really interesting comments here. Thank you.

I guess I can only go on my own rather limited experience but in the commercial world, whenever I've looked at why a particular website might be ranked ahead of another, the one differentiating factor invariably seems to be the number of back links.

Now I know that link quality (as well as qauntity) is also important but I can't help but get the feeling that Google is being played here, particularly by commercial organisations with large seo budgets. And in the example I gave, the 'back-links' seem to be coming from the website itself, in which case they're not really back-links at all!

#7 Jill

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 10:10 AM

Crappy backlinks are definitely overrated. But a couple of quality ones are gold.

#8 rjcarr

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 10:46 AM

QUOTE(Jill @ Dec 2 2009, 08:10 AM) View Post
Crappy backlinks are definitely overrated. But a couple of quality ones are gold.


Well said Jill. Quality over quantity for sure. But in our case, it appears that backlinks just don't matter all that much.


#9 1dmf

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 10:51 AM

QUOTE
but I can't help but get the feeling that Google is being played here, particularly by commercial organisations with large seo budgets.
Of course it is, every single day, it's big business and the deeper the pockets you have , the more you can get out of the system.

That's life i'm afraid, no one ever said it was fair!




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