Tuesday, October 07, 2008

October is a Good Month for Linking Info

October 2008 is a good month for anyone interested in Link Building for SEO. Three things have caught my attention:

1) A "public secret" for almost year (previously referred to with the codename "carhole"*), SEOMoz has unveiled their flagship SEO product on October 6th. And it's good. In fact, I'll say it's milestone event in the field SEO. It's called linkscape.

2) Google's Announced "Link Week" on their WebMaster Central Blog. Basic, but interesting reading for SEO professionals considering the source.

3) All three Search Engines confirm at an SMX East panel discussion that Links are #1

Here are the details:

SeoMoz's LinkScape:
What is it? Basically, these guys have built an application to save the entire web on some really big hard drives, and then analyze the entire linking structure of the Internet. No Kidding! They've actually tried to recreate the system that Google (and those there search engines) use to index and rank sites but keep so tight to their chests, so that SEOs like us can figure out how to manipulate site rankings better.

They haven't saved the entire Internet (yet), but they do have a database of over 30 billion of the most linked pages on the web. The index is already very similar to the ones used by the major search engines. They're updating the whole thing every three weeks or so, and they say they're working to make it bigger and refresh faster. It's a really useful tool for us because it exposes greater granularity and information about links and link graph based metrics.

Here are a few interesting pieces of Internet linking trivia they've pulled from the data so far:

  • Across the web, 58% of all links are to internal pages on the same domain, 42% point to pages off the linking site.

  • 1.83% of all links on the web are nofollowed and of these, 61% are external-pointing, while 39% link to pages on their own site. While those percentages may seem small, that's a massive number (~2 billion links) that are leveraging nofollow for link juice "sculpting."

  • While 0.08% of pages on the web use the 301 redirect, 0.12% (nearly twice as many) employ 302 redirects. Another 0.005% use the meta refresh.

  • About 1.5% of all pages use the meta noindex tag (which is a lot of content the engines don't get to see) and 0.87% of all pages use the meta nofollow tag.

  • From our entire index of pages, the median page received about 77 links (both internal and external), while the average page gets 32. If your pages have more than 32 links, congratulations! You're above average :-)

Now that data is interesting, but it's nothing compared to what you get when you analyze your own site compared to your competitors! We're already using it to our client's advantage by:
  • Finding the juiciest links of our competitors that we can get, too
  • Finding out which of the links we've purchased, rented or acquired through any other means have the most value so we can focus on the most effective link building techniques
  • Learning which of the links that we have direct control over have the most value so we can channel the Google juice more effectively
Congratulations to SEOMoz on building a great tool.

Google's Link Week
The Google webmaster Tools team decided to declare "link Week" and spill some beans on what they think about links. Here are links to all of the related posts:
Top Three Search Engines Agree: Links are Number one.
During the search engine panel at SMX East, all three search engines concurred that links are the number one indicator for the importance of websites when ranking them: (Another quote from Rand Fishkin's blog for this one):

When asked if links are the primary signal for search engine rankings, the engineers generally agreed that, yes, it probably is. Aaron noted that links are a far less noisy signal than many others, including some forms of on-page keyword use and clicks in the SERPs. Sean from Yahoo! said that while it may not be the "most important signal" by itself, it's more important than, for example, title tags (which SEOs generally agree are critical to the SEO process). There was no mention that links would be fading away anytime soon - or that any competing signals had yet entered the marketplace as a potential usurper.

So Until Next Time, Keep on Linking....

* Carhole is a reference to the simpsons - it's what Moe called Homer's garage in the episode where Homer was running a counterfeit Jeans operation out of his.

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