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Demystifying SEO Part 1: The Power of the Link

Search Engine Optimization, three little words that drive an obscene amount of internet traffic. Walking into a conversation about search engine optimization or search engine marketing can feel like wandering into a crowded party and realizing you don’t even speak the language.

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is all of the search engines out there want their users to find the best and most relevant answers to their queries. Why is this good news? If you’re taking the time to sit down and actually build a site or blog worthy of reading, you’re ahead of the game. By applying a few strategic tactics, those who write to inform, have a natural advantage over those looking to game the system.

How big is the Internet? It’s huge and growing exponentially. The internet is a content production machine. Every day massive amounts of information are posted online. Every day search engines try to make sense out of this avalanche of data.


Spiders scour the web going page to page via links.
To accomplish this task search engines utilize programs called spiders or bots – please remember that “bots” is a generic term, not all bots perform this function. Each major search engine has their own version of web crawling programs, and naturally there are going to be slight variations as each engine’s methodology is proprietary.

Links are the currency of the internet.
When I tell you to go read Catherine’s awesome post about Mompreneurs I am telling Google (and Bing and . . .) that I say that the link: http://blogs.babble.com/momcrunch/2011/07/21/a-mompreneur-by-any-other-name-would-be-what-exactly/ has value.

The words I use to describe the link “awesome post about Mompreneurs” also give the search engine further information about what is expected on the other side of the hyperlink. These words are usually referred to as keywords.

While you have no control over what keywords someone else will use to link to your site, you can help search engines relate some keywords to your site by linking to your own content with keywords you want.

For example, if your blog is on children’s health and you have written a post on the vaccination debate, if you refer to that post in the future, using the words “vaccination debate” will help further define your site.

The amount of weight my recommendation has on search engines depends on a number of things, but mostly it depends on the PageRank of this page. How many other sites trust what Momcrunch has to say on a topic translates into the amount of weight I can pull with a single link.

To see the effect of using poor keyword choices for a link, simply search on Google for “click here,” that’s the direct result of who knows how many people sending people to Adobe to get their pdf reader to download documents. Google has associated the keyword “click here” with the url: http://get.adobe.com/reader/.

Keep this in mind as you link to your own content. Always keep in mind the words you want associated with your site.

Next up, PageRank.

(Photo Credit: John-Morgan)

 

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