How to Build Links and PageRank – Part 2

November 2nd, 2004


There is a tactic called Google bombing whereby linking to a site with particular words in the link text can get a site highly ranked for those keywords in the search engines, including Google, Yahoo! and MSN. One of the most famous Google bombs was George W. Bush’s biography page on being ranked #1 for the phrase “miserable failure” — even though neither the word “miserable” nor the word “failure” appear anywhere on Dubbya’s page. It was the sheer power of the inbound links with the link text that did it. Hopefully this should underline for you the critical importance of getting good keywords in the link text of inbound links.

Not all links from a high PageRank endowed page are as good. If there are a great deal many other links on that page that link to you, you will end up with only a small share of the PageRank score that has been passed down, as you are sharing it with the multitude of other sites linked on that page. The fewer the number of links, the better.

Reciprocal links are likely to get discounted as well. Search engines of course have a fantastically comprehensive link map of the web, so they can spot reciprocal links quite easily. As you can imagine, getting your golf buddy to link to you and you, in turn, linking back isn’t as useful to the search engine users than an industry resource site linking to your site, because it is relevant and useful for that link to be only one way.

Links from affiliated sites, i.e. those on the same IP range or host name, will likely be discounted as well, as will footer links located at the bottom of all the pages site-wide.

Some types of links are just bad news. Google warns not to link to what it calls “bad neighbourhoods”. These would include link farms and search engine spam sites, in fact don’t participate in link farms or FFA, also known as free for all sites, at all. When you get emails inviting you to get a link submitted to many thousands of search engines and directories, do not respond. At best, these sites are irrelevant. At worst, which is most likely the case, they consist of link farms and bad neighbourhoods. The results of participation can be devastating and include ranking penalties or even the banning of your site.

One of the keys to garnering links is to offer link-worthy content and to keep that content fresh. You can proactively solicit links. If you do, you need to do it carefully.

Step 1: Identify suitable link targets

Review links of competitive sites and sites in your keyword market. SEO Chat’s PageRank search tool is very handy in identifying link targets with high PageRank scores. With it, you can conduct Google queries and have the tool return the results in order of PageRank score rather than relevance. We use the tool a number of different ways. We check backlinks of competitors’ sites. We check keywords relevant to the client’s industry. We also use the site query operator to restrict results to specific TLDs (top level domains) and countries. One downside of this tool is that the backlink searches are not comprehensive. It is only a sampling of the total number of backlinks, and those backlinks are only to the page specified, such as the home page, and not to the entire site.

On the other hand, Yahoo! offers a query operator link domain that allows you to see all backlinks coming in to any page on the site. Furthermore, Yahoo! allows you to further restrict a linkdomain or link search by subtracting particular sites from the search result. For example, you could do a linkdomain query on Yahoo! and subtract your own site from the search results, seeing only inbound links from other sites into your own, rather than seeing pages of your own site linking to yourself.

Step 2: Contact them and try and persuade them to link to you

You can beg, borrow or buy a link. But I doubt you could steal one, although the blog comment spammers and guestbook spammers have managed to steal links to some degree of effectiveness — a very bad thing.

How could you “buy” one? You might be able to obtain a link by “sponsoring” their organization with cash or “in kind” services.

You could suggest a link as a site visitor, or you could contact them representing yourself from your site. If you represent a site visitor, you should probably give them some additional constructive feedback besides inclusion of your link. For instance, in the same email let them know of any broken links on their site that you have spotted or of any other suggested links besides your own.

Remember offering a reciprocal link in exchange is not a viable approach, because their link to you will not be worth as much once the search engines pick up the fact that you link back to them.

Part 1


  1. thegame says:

    I was reading this gr8 article and suddenly looked at the ranking of this artice and found its zero.

    Neverthe less a gr8 article. Really need to imporve my page ranking….Google crawled some 1000 pages but no results appear when searched in google 🙂

  2. Thanks for the comment and for the kind words on the article. In regards to your point about this page’s PageRank showing a 0 on the Toolbar, remember that the PageRank scores that the public is allowed to see is not the same PageRank that is used by the ranking algorithm. And the Toolbar PageRank is months out of date.

    That’s why this article (specifically, part 1 of it) is #6 in Google for “build links”, out of 290,000,000. 🙂

    In regards to your own site, you have only 1 page indexed in Google. Your link popularity is nil on all the major engines, presumably because your site is so new. Build some high PR links and your indexation should quickly shoot up!

  3. by Stephan Spencer — November 7, 2006 @ 2:32 pm