Linking Food For Thought

This week, I’m stepping away from my usual article format and instead, address several linking related questions and comments I haven’t seen discussed as much across the link building blog/twitter/feed o-sphere. I welcome your feedback, comments, opinions and answers.

People will tell you that one of the better ways to spot link targets is to study the links of competing sites that rank above you. Fair enough. While technically accurate, why is there an assumption those sites will link to your site too? And why so little discussion of how this “xerox approach to link building” is in the client’s best interest? Frankly, low co-citation link gets are way better than high cite gets.

Why does everyone obsess over the inbound links of the top ten results? If a search term brings back 3,200,000 results, even the site ranked 39th will have something about it you can learn from. In fact, I produce my strongest client content linking plans by spending more time studying results pages 2-20 than page 1.

On the topic of target sites, if people would spend as much time learning Google, Yahoo, and Bing‘s advanced search functionality as they do learning how to use some new whizboombang link building tool, they’d be far better off, and so will their rankings.

If you are a link builder and have never used, give it a try.

How many of you who spend a lot of time studying huge spreadsheets full of URLs (meaning tens of thousands of URLs) have gotten to the point where you can spot link spammers just by paging through the URL list, without even having to visit those URLs in a browser? It’s laughable, isn’t it?

I just read New York Times to spend 2010 erecting a partial paywall. Let’s hope they understand how to do this right, so a few hundred thousand deep link inbounds don’t go 404 or 301 to a “we want money” page. Link equity is precious. Handle it with care.

One example/suggestion:

Any direct clicks to interior pages at (like this page) where the click originated from a .edu based link to that interior page (like this page) ought to result in the user getting the expected content at no cost.

The above example was easy. I’ve got a boatload of link equity preservation strategies, and have saved several large content sites from link equity disasters.

Lastly, test your link profile forensic skills with this teaser.

Search phrase: flags of the world

Why does this page rank #1:

And this page ranks #2 (indented):

But this page: ranks #3  ?

You’d think the site at position #3 would be #1, especially given this particular search phrase/content match and the link profiles. I have my hunches and some analysis that help me to better understand the ranking result/scenario above. But I’m curious.

What are your thoughts?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Week Column


About The Author: has been creating linking strategies for clients since 1994. Eric publishes the strategic linking advice newsletter LinkMoses Private, and provides linking services, training and consulting via

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  • Vic

    No comments on this? I’d be curious to see answers to Eric’s question, because at a glance it does seem like #3 should be #1.

  • Bert77

    Probably because the anchor text of the backlinks is different. Result #3 is more optimized for “CRW Flags Inc” and position #1/ #2 for “World Flag Database” etc.

    The NY Times will probably continue the “succes story” of Newsday:

    Seriously, if companies like Lonely Planet don’t even get the SEO Basics right, there’s plenty of work for SEO’s. What do I mean?

    Well, for example this URL:

    has more than 1400 active inlinks and isn’t properly redirected to the new url. That’s just one url out of 240 countries. Imagine the ‘great’ user experience, the loss of link juice and the loss of money. Food for thought too…


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