We know how humans use links – simply to redirect visitors to different resources. BORING! When Google came onto the scene, they innovated by introducing popularity into the search algorithm. The key to this popularity is linking. There are three ways that search engines use links to accomplish their purposes. These are:
1. Find new content to add to the index
2. To attribute popularity to the page being linked to
3. Anchor text as a clue to which keywords the content might be relevant for
Considering all the uses that search engines have for our links, it’s probably pretty important to make sure your linking strategy is sound.
How to Break Google
Google wants you to link properly. It’s how they find new content for their index and assign a popularity score to the content that is already in the index. If you think about it, if Google were to discourage linking, it would be the equivalent of the Fed discouraging the spending of money in a down economy. Linking is the currency of the Internet.
Think of all the ways you can make life harder for Google. You might decide to intentionally provide no clues through anchor text. You might consider trying to hide your links from a search engine, or not linking out at all. If you’re devious, you can try to take Google down a notch.
But seriously, why would you want to go against Google? It brings traffic for playing by its rules, so I would suggest doing the opposite.
Bringing Yourself in Line with Google
Realize that Google wants what you want…for different reasons. They want to show your pages to visitors if they provide value. You want your pages to be shown to searchers, and you want to provide value to those searchers. If that’s not enough to play by Google’s rules, I’m not sure what would be.
Consider paying close attention to your links. Don’t hesitate to link out or to link to new, interesting content. Carefully determine your anchor text on those links to provide a keyword suggestion for search engines. As you make the Internet a better place for users and search engines, you’ll likely receive some of that karma back.