An authority website is a site that is trusted by its users, the industry it operates in, other websites and search engines. Traditionally a link from an authority website is very valuable, as it’s seen as a vote of confidence. The more of these you have, and the higher quality content you produce, the more likely your own site will become an authority too.
We have other ways to consider relevence. Topical Trust Flow is one and page titles and anchor texts are others. If you put a search term into our system (instead of a URL) you actually get back a search engine! we don’t profess to be a Google (yet) but we can show our customers WHY one page is more relevent on our algotithm than another page. This could prove useful for SEOs. We actually launched that in 2013, but the world maybe never noticed 🙂
Paid-for links and ads on your site MUST have a nofollow attribute (see Google’s policy on nofollow). If you have paid links that are left followed, the search engines might suspect you are trying to manipulate search results and slap your site with a ranking penalty. Google’s Penguin algorithm eats manipulative paid links for lunch, so stay off the menu by adding nofollow attributes where applicable.
Description meta tags are important because Google might use them as snippets for your pages. Note that we say "might" because Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page's visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user's query. Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice in case Google cannot find a good selection of text to use in the snippet. The Webmaster Central Blog has informative posts on improving snippets with better description meta tags18 and better snippets for your users19. We also have a handy Help Center article on how to create good titles and snippets20.
Cause if I do that, If I write good content, whilst my 100+ competitors link build, article market, forum comment, social bookmark, release viral videos, buy links, I’ll end up the very bottom of the pile, great content or not and really I am just as well taking my chances pulling off every sneaky trick in the book to get my site top because, everyone does it anyway and if I don’t what do have to lose?”
Ask for a technical and search audit for your site to learn what they think needs to be done, why, and what the expected outcome should be. You'll probably have to pay for this. You will probably have to give them read-only access to your site on Search Console. (At this stage, don't grant them write access.) Your prospective SEO should be able to give you realistic estimates of improvement, and an estimate of the work involved. If they guarantee you that their changes will give you first place in search results, find someone else.
But, why do search engines care about backlinks? Well, in the early days of the Internet, search engines were very simple, and relied strictly on keyword matching. It didn’t matter how good the content on a website was, how popular it was, or what the website was for–if a phrase on a page matched a phrase that someone searched for, then that page would likely show up. That meant that if someone had an online journal in which they documented at length how they had to take their car to a “car accident repair shop,” then people searching for a “car accident repair shop” would likely be led to that page. Not terribly useful, right?
Something a lot of people seem to have overlooked was hinted at in Greg Boser’s comment above. Greg identified that there is a major (and unfair) disparity with how authority sites such as Wikipedia disrupt the linkscape by run-of-site nofollows. Once Wikipedia implemented the no-follows, previously high-value links from Wikipedia were rendered worthless making the site less of a target for spammers. Increasingly large sites are following suit in order to cleanse their own pages of spam.
Just think about any relationship for a moment. How long you've known a person is incredibly important. It's not the be-all-end-all, but it is fundamental to trust. If you've known someone for years and years and other people that you know who you already trust can vouch for that person, then you're far more likely to trust them, right? But if you've just met someone, and haven't really vetted them so to speak, how can you possibly trust them?
Today, with nearly half the world's population wired to the internet, the ever-increasing connectivity has created global shifts in strategic thinking and positioning, disrupting industry after industry, sector after sector. Seemingly, with each passing day, some new technological tool emerges that revolutionizes our lives, further deepening and embedding our dependence on the world wide web.
Collaborative Environment: A collaborative environment can be set up between the organization, the technology service provider, and the digital agencies to optimize effort, resource sharing, reusability and communications. Additionally, organizations are inviting their customers to help them better understand how to service them. This source of data is called User Generated Content. Much of this is acquired via company websites where the organization invites people to share ideas that are then evaluated by other users of the site. The most popular ideas are evaluated and implemented in some form. Using this method of acquiring data and developing new products can foster the organizations relationship with their customer as well as spawn ideas that would otherwise be overlooked. UGC is low-cost advertising as it is directly from the consumers and can save advertising costs for the organisation.
In an effort to manually control the flow of PageRank among pages within a website, many webmasters practice what is known as PageRank Sculpting—which is the act of strategically placing the nofollow attribute on certain internal links of a website in order to funnel PageRank towards those pages the webmaster deemed most important. This tactic has been used since the inception of the nofollow attribute, but may no longer be effective since Google announced that blocking PageRank transfer with nofollow does not redirect that PageRank to other links.
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The flood of iframe and off-page hacks and plugins for WordPress and various other platforms might not come pouring in but I’m willing to bet the few that come in will begin to get prominence and popularity. It seemed such an easy way to keep control over PR flow offsite to websites you may not be ‘voting for’ and afterall, isn’t that way a link has always represented. It would seem Google should catch up with the times.
Let’s start with what Google says. In a nutshell, it considers links to be like votes. In addition, it considers that some votes are more important than others. PageRank is Google’s system of counting link votes and determining which pages are most important based on them. These scores are then used along with many other things to determine if a page will rank well in a search.
Great article and writing in general. My company just published a 5,000 word Keyword targeting best practices guide for PPC and SEO, and we linked to your article “10 Reasons You Should Use Google Trends for More Than Just Keyword Research”. http://vabulous.com/keyword-research-targeting-for-ppc-and-seo-guide/ I would love if you checked it out and possibly shared it if you like it.
Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don’t match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all dozens of aspects of the page’s content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it’s a good match for your query.
Matt, this is an excellent summary. I finally got around to reading “The Search” by John Battelle and it was very enlightening to understand much of the academia behind what led to the creation of Backrub.. er Google.Looking at how many times the project was almost shutdown due to bandwidth consumption (> 50% of what the university could offer at times) as well as webmasters being concerned that their pages would be stolen and recreated. It’s so interesting to see that issues we see today are some of the same ones that Larry and Sergey were dealing with back then. As always, thanks for the great read Matt!
Matt Cutts, it’s Shawn Hill from Longview, Texas and I’ve got to say, “you’re a semseo guru”. That’s obviously why Google retained you as they did. Very informative post! As head of Google’s Webspam team how to you intend to combat Social Networking Spam (SNS)? It’s becoming an increasingly obvious problem in SERPs. I’m thinking Blogspam should be the least of Google’s worries. What’s your take?