If you’re just getting started with SEO, you’re likely to hear a lot about “backlinks,” “external and internal links,” or “link building.” After all, backlinks are an important SEO ranking factor for SEO success, but as a newbie, you may be wondering: what are backlinks? SEO changes all the time — do backlinks still matter? Well, wonder no more. Say hello to your definitive guide to backlinks and their significance in SEO.
As Rogers pointed out in his classic paper on PageRank, the biggest takeaway for us about the eigenvector piece is that it’s a type of math that let’s you work with multiple moving parts. “We can go ahead and calculate a page’s PageRank without knowing the final value of the PR of the other pages. That seems strange but, basically, each time we run the calculation we’re getting a closer estimate of the final value. So all we need to do is remember the each value we calculate and repeat the calculations lots of times until the numbers stop changing much.”
Matt, as you know, I was kind of annoyed when you suggested sculpting to a room full of SEOs back in 2007. We’d been told over the years to do things for humans, not to overly worry about having to do stuff for search engines — and suddenly, here you were suggesting that SEOs could flow PageRank to their most “important” pages. I’d figured Google had long since been smart enough to decide for itself what percentage of a page’s PageRank spend to assign to a particular link. That assumption didn’t just come out of the blue — it came from things Google had hinted at over the years. So being told to start overtly flowing around the PageRank? It seemed counter-productive.
Ian Rogers first used the Internet in 1986 sending email on a University VAX machine! He first installed a webserver in 1990, taught himself HTML and perl CGI scripting. Since then he has been a Senior Research Fellow in User Interface Design and a consultant in Network Security and Database Backed Websites. He has had an informal interest in topology and the mathematics and behaviour of networks for years and has also been known to do a little Jive dancing. 

One final note is that if the links are not directly related to the subject, or you have no control over them, such as commentors’ website links, maybe you should consider putting them on another page, which links to your main content. That way you don’t leak page rank, and still gain hits from search results from the content of the comments. I may be missing something but this seems to mean that you can have your cake and eat it, and I don’t even think it is gaming the system or against the spirit of it. You might even gain a small sprinkling of page rank if the comment page accumulates any of it’s own. 

But I'm not talking about any kind of link building. I'm talking about organic link building by getting out there and creating insatiable "anchor content" on your website, then linking to that content with equally-great content that's created on authority sites like Medium, Quora, LinkedIn and other publishing platforms. It's not easy by any measure. Google is far more wary of newcomers these days than it once used to be.
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.
Do you regularly publish helpful, useful articles, videos or other types of media that are popular and well produced? Do you write for actual human beings rather than the search engine itself? Well, you should. Latest research from Searchmetrics on ranking factors indicates that Google is moving further towards longer-form content that understands a visitor’s intention as a whole, instead of using keywords based on popular search queries to create content.
Backlink is a link one website gets from another website. Backlinks make a huge impact on a website’s prominence in search engine results. This is why they are considered very useful for improving a website’s SEO ranking. Search engines calculate rankings using multiple factors to display search results. No one knows for sure how much weight search engines give to backlinks when listing results, however what we do know for certain is that they are very important.
Since heading tags typically make text contained in them larger than normal text on the page, this is a visual cue to users that this text is important and could help them understand something about the type of content underneath the heading text. Multiple heading sizes used in order create a hierarchical structure for your content, making it easier for users to navigate through your document.
Imagine that you've created the definitive Web site on a subject -- we'll use skydiving as an example. Your site is so new that it's not even listed on any SERPs yet, so your first step is to submit your site to search engines like Google and Yahoo. The Web pages on your skydiving site include useful information, exciting photographs and helpful links guiding visitors to other resources. Even with the best information about skydiving on the Web, your site may not crack the top page of results on major search engines. When people search for the term "skydiving," they could end up going to inferior Web sites because yours isn't in the top results.
Secondly, nofollow is also essential on links to off-topic pages, whether they’re internal or external to your site. You want to prevent search engines from misunderstanding what your pages are about. Linking relevant pages together reinforces your topic relevance. So to keep your topic silos clear, strategic use of the nofollow attribute can be applied when linking off-topic pages together.
There are ten essential types of marketing that can be done online. Some of these can be broken down into organic marketing and others can be categorized as paid marketing. Organic, of course, is the allure of marketing professionals from around the planet. It's free and its unencumbered traffic that simply keeps coming. Paid marketing, on the other hand, is still a very attractive proposition as long as the marketing pays for itself by having the right type of offer that converts.
Internet marketing is a number of things. And true success in the field involves an immersion into several skill sets that are required if you really want to succeed at the highest level. That's why I knew I needed to go the top of the food chain of online marketers to get an understanding of what this actually takes. And it's important to note that while there are many hyped-up gurus out there, there are also genuine individuals that aren't just looking to extract money from you.
As Rich White also said in the comments, just because PR scores are no longer visible doesn’t mean PageRank is a thing of the past. It still matters a lot. PR remains one of Google’s 200+ ranking factors. You need to receive links from quality, on-topic web pages and then properly manage that PR through your website through siloing. These are powerful things you can do to boost your pages’ relevance in search.
So, for example, a short-tail keyphrase might be “Logo design”. Putting that into Google will get you an awful lot of hits. There’s a lot of competition for that phrase, and it’s not particularly useful for your business, either. There are no buying signals in the phrase – so many people will use this phrase to learn about logo design or to examine other aspects of logo design work.
You’ll want to capture users’ emails regularly, both when they purchase…and even before they become a customer. You can use lead magnets or discounts to incentivize email sign-ups and using an email management service like MailChimp allows you to create triggered autoresponders that will automatically send out pre-made welcome email campaigns when they subscribe.
The Google Toolbar long had a PageRank feature which displayed a visited page's PageRank as a whole number between 0 and 10. The most popular websites displayed a PageRank of 10. The least showed a PageRank of 0. Google has not disclosed the specific method for determining a Toolbar PageRank value, which is to be considered only a rough indication of the value of a website. In March 2016 Google announced it would no longer support this feature, and the underlying API would soon cease to operate.[34]
Another illicit practice is to place "doorway" pages loaded with keywords on the client's site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO's other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.
For example this page. My program found almost 400 nofollow links on this page. (Each comment has 3). And then you have almost 60 navigation links. My real question is how much percentage of the PageRank on this page gets distributed to the 9 real links in the article? If it is a division of 469 which some SEO experts now are claiming it is really disturbing. You won’t earn much from the links if you follow what I am saying.

As for the use of nofollow as a way to keep pages that shouldn’t be indexed out of Google (as with your feed example) is terrible advice. Your use of it on your feed link does nothing. If anyone links to your feed without nofollow, then it’s going to get indexed. Things that shouldn’t be indexed need to use either robots.txt or meta robots blocking. Nofollow on links to those items isn’t a solution.


The Google Toolbar long had a PageRank feature which displayed a visited page's PageRank as a whole number between 0 and 10. The most popular websites displayed a PageRank of 10. The least showed a PageRank of 0. Google has not disclosed the specific method for determining a Toolbar PageRank value, which is to be considered only a rough indication of the value of a website. In March 2016 Google announced it would no longer support this feature, and the underlying API would soon cease to operate.[34]

Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.
In essence, backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content. If many sites link to the same webpage or website, search engines can infer that content is worth linking to, and therefore also worth surfacing on a SERP. So, earning these backlinks can have a positive effect on a site's ranking position or search visibility.
People think about PageRank in lots of different ways. People have compared PageRank to a “random surfer” model in which PageRank is the probability that a random surfer clicking on links lands on a page. Other people think of the web as an link matrix in which the value at position (i,j) indicates the presence of links from page i to page j. In that case, PageRank corresponds to the principal eigenvector of that normalized link matrix.
I really think Google keeps it’s enemies sweet and close, all the while gathering info on ALL SEO tactics, so they can compare and discount them where warranted. Put yourself in Google’s shoes. It relies on returning the most trustworthy and relevant pages in the SERPs for any given search term. That IS the all important foundations of the Google empire. IF that can be artificially manufactured by SEO and money, Google has lost, not only the battle, but the war.
Also given that the original reasons for implementing the ‘nofollow’ tag was to reduce comment spam (something that it really hasn’t had a great effect in combatting) – the real question I have is why did they ever take any notice of nofollow on internal links in the first place? It seems to me that in this case they made the rod for their own back.
While there are several platforms for doing this, clearly YouTube is the most popular for doing this. However, video marketing is also a great form of both content marketing and SEO on its own. It can help to provide visibility for several different ventures, and if the video is valuable enough in its message and content, it will be shared and liked by droves, pushing up the authority of that video through the roof.
Well, something similar happened with PageRank, a brilliant child of Google founders Larry Page (who gave his name to the child and played off the concept of a web-page) and Sergey Brin. It helped Google to become the search giant that dictates the rules for everybody else, and at the same time it created an array of complicated situations that at some point got out of hand.
One of the consequences of the PageRank algorithm and its further manipulation has been the situation when backlinks (as well as link-building) have been usually considered black-hat SEO. Thus, not only Google has been combating the consequences of its own child's tricks, but also mega-sites, like Wikipedia, The Next Web, Forbes, and many others who automatically nofollow all the outgoing links. It means fewer and fewer PageRank votes. What is then going to help search engines rank pages in terms of their safety and relevance?
“There may be a miniscule number of pages (such as links to a shopping cart or to a login page) that I might add nofollow on, just because those pages are different for every user and they aren’t that helpful to show up in search engines” – it doesn`t make much sense. If a page isn`t helpful and should not show up on search results, the best option is to meta-noindex the page and disallow it on robots.txt.
Let’s say that I want to link to some popular search results on my catalog or directory site – you know, to give a new user an alternative way of sampling the site. Of course, following Google’s advice, I have to “avoid allowing search result-like pages to be crawled”. Now, I happen to think that these pages are great for the new user, but I accept Google’s advice and block them using robots.txt.
Thanks for the info on nofollow and pagerank. It makes sense that this will always be a moving target less everyone will eventually game the system until it’s worthless but at the same time it’s worth it to know a few tricks. I still have open concerns on how freshness of content factor in, the only time i’m ever annoyed by search results these days is when the only links available (on the first page at least) are articles from 4 years ago.
I am not worried by this; I do agree with Danny Sullivan (Great comment Danny, best comment I have read in a long time). I will not be changing much on my site re: linking but it is interesting too see that Google took over a year to tell us regarding the change, but was really happy to tell us about rel=”nofollow” in the first place and advised us all to use it.
Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or "throwaway" domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google's index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it's best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to "help" you. If an SEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.
Social media is a mixed bag when it comes to backlinks. There is a modicum of value, as social media sites allow you to link to your website in your profile. However, these days Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites mark links as 'nofollow,' meaning that they don't pass SEO value (sometimes referred to as "link juice") to the linked site. These links won't do anything to boost your site's performance in search results.
If you’re Matt Cutts and a billion people link to you because you’re the Spam guy at Google, writing great content is enough. For the rest of us in hypercompetitive markets, good content alone is not enough. There was nothing wrong with sculpting page rank to pages on your site that make you money as a means of boosting traffic to those pages. It’s not manipulating Google, there’s more than enough of that going on in the first page of results for most competitive keywords. Geez Matt, give the little guy a break!
But this leads to a question — if my husband wants to do a roundup of every Wagner Ring Cycle on DVD, that’s about 8 Amazon links on the page, all bleeding PR away from his substantive insights. If he, instead, wants to do a roundup of every Ring Cycle on CD, that’s about two dozen items worth discussing. The page would be very handy for users, and would involve considerably more effort on his part… but no good deed goes unpunished, and in the eyes of Google the page would be devalued by more than two thirds.
Disclaimer: Even when I joined the company in 2000, Google was doing more sophisticated link computation than you would observe from the classic PageRank papers. If you believe that Google stopped innovating in link analysis, that’s a flawed assumption. Although we still refer to it as PageRank, Google’s ability to compute reputation based on links has advanced considerably over the years. I’ll do the rest of my blog post in the framework of “classic PageRank” but bear in mind that it’s not a perfect analogy.
But if you do it properly, it can be worth your money. Also, press releases can be much more than just a block of text. In December 2018, we ran a press release through Business Wire that had multiple backlinks, stylized call outs, and even a video! If you put effort into them, press releases can be not just a source of backlinks, but also serve as a great marketing piece as well.

Backlinks can be time-consuming to earn. New sites or those expanding their keyword footprint may find it difficult to know where to start when it comes to link building. That's where competitive backlink research comes in: By examining the backlink profile (the collection of pages and domains linking to a website) to a competitor that's already ranking well for your target keywords, you can gain insight about the link building that may have helped them. A tool like Link Explorer can help uncover these links so you can and target those domains in your own link building campaigns.


Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Add navigation pages when it makes sense and effectively work these into your internal link structure. Make sure all of the pages on your site are reachable through links, and that they don't require an internal "search" functionality to be found. Link to related pages, where appropriate, to allow users to discover similar content. Denver Page Rank Click Here
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