Internet Marketing Fortune Cookie #13

The Importance Of Backlinks and NoFollow


Internet Marketing Fortune Cookie

It's Wednesday, and you know what that means. It's time for another weekly Internet Business Fortune Cookie.

This week's Internet Business Fortune Cookie caused me to write about a SEO question that I get a lot. When I cracked open the cookie this week, I knew right away what it meant.

Hear the cookie speak:

“Your Friends Speak Kindly Of You”

Obviously, the cookie was refering to the importance of off-page SEO and backlinks.

I have talked about SEO before.  In this article, I'll talk mostly about Google, and I'll comment on what people believe to be true.  No one actually knows exactly what Google is doing in their search algorithms except Google.  If you have a contrary opinion, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Getting On Google's First Page

When you do a search in Google for a keyword phrase, results are returned to you in order. Google tries to put the “best” results on the first page so that you get the most useful result from their engine. The better the results are, the more people use Google. So it is very important to Google to give users great search results.

To decide which pages to put on the first page of the results, Google considers at least two things what text is on the page and how “important” the page is for your phrase. The first thing is usually called “on-page SEO”, and the second thing is usually called “off-page SEO.” This last part (off-page SEO or “authority”) is determined in part by how many incoming links (links from other pages) a particular page has and what the quality of those links are.

Back Links Make The Difference

Let's say there are 2 pages in the internet that are very similar about “sheep dog training” and you search for “sheep dog training”. Which page will you see? All things being equal (similar on-page SEO), you will see the “sheep dog training” page that has more quality pages linking to it ranked above the one with fewer incoming links.

Google figures that if someone took the time to link to a page, it must have good stuff in it. If lots of people linked to that page, it must be really good (better than a page that no one is linking to).

See, the quality of the incoming links is determined (in part) by the authority of the page linking to it. So, if the dog training page has incoming links from CNN and Yahoo News, those links will carry more weight than a link from Bob's brand new blog.

Share The SEO Love

This means that once a page has some “authority” (like the CNN home page in the example above), it can pass that authority to other pages. It is thought that the authority you pass from a page is “split” between the pages that you pass to. So, if you have a page that links out to 5 other pages, you sort of send 1/5 of the authority of that page to each of the pages that you link to.

But, what if you don't want to do that?  What if you only want to send authority to 2 of the pages (maybe they are pages that you own) and send no authority to the other three?

You can do that by putting the rel = “nofollow” attribute in the link text.

This nofollow attribute “theoretically” makes the link pass no (or less) authority.  I say theoretically, because there are lots of good examples and studies that prove the nofollow links actually do impact your rankings in some cases.

So, I hope that helps clear things up on backlinks.  I'd love to hear your questions in the comments below.

As the cookie says, Your Friends Speak Kindly Of You.

Have a great day.
Mark

P.S.  For more on backlinks and SEO, be sure to check out The Ultimate Link Building Report.

Photo credit: Uploaded on July 17, 2006 by headcase

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