Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the links Category

How Many Incoming Links Do I Really Have?

Link Popularity Is an Important Ranking Factor

Link popularity — the number and quality of inbound links to your site is a critical ranking factor. I estimate it counts for 40-50% of where you rank on Google. While link quality outweighs link counts, many of our clients still like to know how their link counts are doing.

Moz and Majestic

Your link count is one of the link-related ranking factors at Google.

We track client inbound link counts from both Moz and Majestic because there are different ways to “count” links that results in occasionally large differences in link counts between them.

Link age may be a consideration: older links may count less than fresher links. Link weight is also important: the weight of a link is related to the web authority of the linking page so that links from more authoritative pages count significantly more heavily in your favor than links from lesser sources.

Link trend chartMoz tends to track high value links while Majestic tends to dig deeper and track many lower quality links. Moz tends also to have fewer false positives. Both constantly refine their link counting algorithms, resulting in occasional dramatic changes in reported link counts.

Links versus Domain LinksIn our monthly reporting to clients, we rely on the Moz link counts. But we track both and periodically report to clients about both of them, as well as counts of how many other websites are linking. Some websites (domains) may link to you from multiple pages, resulting in a difference between total links and linking domains. We also report on MozRank and Domain Authority.

MozRank

Moz logoMozRank is a link popularity score that weighs the number of incoming links to a given web page (or a given website for Domain MozRank) but modifies that with a quality score for those inbound links. It’s designed to approximate Google’s PageRank score which is an important ranking factor at Google, and is on a logarithmic 0-10 scale like Google’s PageRank.  While Google used to display an approximate PageRank for web pages, they stopped doing that around 2014. MozRank is the closest approximation of that we’ve found.

Domain Authority

Domain Authority by MozDomain Authority is another metric from the folks at Moz to measure the strength of a website in terms of its likelihood to rank prominently in web search results. On a logarithmic 0-100 scale, it’s based on a number of more elementary metrics including link counts, linking domains, link quality, MozRank, and more. It’s being continuously tweaked via machine learning against actual Google search results

If you’d like to know more or have us track your own link popularity, just reach out anytime.

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Why Did Your Nice, New Website Destroy Your Search Rankings?

Loss of RankingsIt’s sad to say, but we see this all too often. An old website gets a facelift, and the new site looks great. But it’s not long before the website owner notices that they’re no longer getting any business from people finding them on the web. What happened?

We’ve written before about why good SEO consultants make lousy web designers, and vice versa, and there are just some SEO techniques that great web designers don’t really think much about.

The two mistakes that kill your online visibility

There are two main factors that govern where you rank in the search engines: Relevance and Reputation. A significant problem with either one of them will cost you rankings in the search engines.

Keyword relevanceRelevance

During the website redesign, the text copy on your pages may be updated. Certainly the HTML code behind the pages is changed. It’s not at all uncommon for the new copy to fail to use some of your essential keyword phrases or for them not to be included appropriately in the code. This makes it difficult for search engines to recognize that your page is an appropriate match for those keyword phrases.

The solution to this is to go back to your original optimization recommendations and re-apply them to your webpages.  (You do have optimization recommendations to reapply, don’t you?)

Reputation

This accounts for 40-50% of where you rank in Google. It’s important in other search engines as well, but Google weighs it more heavily than the rest of them. Your reputation (sometimes called  “authority”) is measured by your link popularity:” the number and quality of other websites that link to yours. Over time, the pages on your website have earned significant link popularity, helping them to rank well in the search engines.

URL changes can hurt your rankings

Unfortunately, most website redesign projects result in new URLs for the pages on your website. Without explicit action, all the link popularity earned by you or previous page URLs is simply lost. This is related to the issue of canonicalization we discuss in the SEO portion of our website, as well as in our blog.

The solution is to do the proper kind of “redirect” from the old URL to the new URL so that the new URL can inherit the link popularity and reputation earned by your previous version of the page. There are multiple kinds of redirects that will ensure that anyone who tries to go to your old page will be sent to the new one. But only one kind, the 301 permanent redirect, will also redirect the link popularity value from the old URL to the new one.

Don’t Panic

Don't Panic!

Obviously, if this happens to you you need to jump on it as quickly as possible and get things fixed. Better still would be to anticipate this potential disaster and deal with it before your redesigned website even goes live.

If this has happened to you and you need help recovering from the loss of search rankings, Rank Magic can help.

Has this happened to you? Share your experience in the Comments below.

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Are Social Media Links Devalued?

social mediaThis is a frequently asked question.

We’re often asked if links from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter count less than other kinds of links. We’ve found an interview conducted awhile back by Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts with Matt Cutts (widely known as “The Google Guy”) where that question was pointedly asked.

Here’s Google’s response

Typically, our policy is: a link is a link, is a link; wherever that link’s worth is, that is the worth that we give it. Some people ask about links from DMOZ, links from .edu or links from .gov, and they say: “Isn’t there some sort of boost? Isn’t a link better if it comes from a .edu?” The short answer is: no, it is not. It is just .edu links tend to have higher PageRank, because more people link to .edu’s or .gov’s.

To the best of my knowledge, I do not think we have anything that says social bookmark links are given less weight. Certainly, some sites like del.icio.us (now delicious.com) and other people, may choose to put individual “nofollows” in and they may choose to take actions to try to prevent spam, but we do not typically say anything like: social bookmarking by itself – give less weight.

For a more thorough look at nofollow links, check out this ultimate guide.

So there you have it. If this emboldens you to become more active on social sites, go for it. And if you need help with that or other SEO issues, just give us a call.

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What Controls Your Search Engine Rankings in 2013?

This is what controls where you rank.

Click the infographic then click it again to access a larger version that you can read.

Search engine ranking factors 2013

Comments and discussion are welcome.

Struggling with your rankings? Rank Magic can help.

How to Disavow Bad Links

LinksWeb sites suffering a significant loss of rankings as a result of the Penguin Update last spring have been scrambling to correct the factors that have hurt them. One main class of factors is on-page keyword stuffing. The other main factor is a bad inbound link profile.

Bad Backlink Profile

If you’re getting too many links with keyword rich anchor text (the clickable text in the link that points to you) and few or none of the more generic type (your URL, your company or website name, or “click here”) that may be taken as another kind of keyword stuffing. Also, if you’ve engaged a company to get you tons of links from non-relevant websites or participated in link farms, those links can hurt you as well. Some inexpensive off-shore outfits promise hundreds or thousands of backlinks to your site from websites they own and control which were set up just for the purpose of providing those links. Others send comment spam to unrelated blogs, hoping those comments will be accepted and provide links back. Some website owners worry that people might point bad links at their sites in an attempt to harm them with “negative SEO.”

All of these bogus or artificial links carry the risk of earning you a Penguin penalty. You need to try to get those links removed or dis-counted so they don’t continue to weigh down your rankings.

Disavowing Links in Google

Google logoIf you’ve contacted the webmasters of sites with bad links to you and have been unsuccessful in getting them to remove those links, Google has a “link disavowal” tool that can tell Google you disapprove of those links and they shouldn’t count toward your link popularity. That will also cause them not to count toward a Penguin penalty as well. Google says this about the tool:

If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress on getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links. In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.

Search Engine Land wrote about the process a few weeks ago and their article is worth a read. To go straight to the Google tool, click here. I encourage you also to read Google’s instructions.

Caveat from Google

This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.

Bing has a Disavowal Tool, Too

Bing logo

To disavow links in Bing, you can do the same thing via Bing Webmaster Tools. Bing’s instructions are here. I’ve seen no sign of a similar tool from Yahoo, but that may be unnecessary as Yahoo and Bing share the same index.

If you’ve suffered a Penguin Penalty, take a look at your incoming links and see if they may be the cause of your trouble. If you need help with that, Rank Magic can help.