Linking Strategies – Search Engine Perspective

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One of the major session tracks during day 3 of the 2005 Chicago SES was devoted the art and war of linking. In my last two articles, the SEO/SEM perspective towards linking campaigns was discussed thoroughly. However, the final installment of the linking sessions featured representatives of the all the major search engines.

Have reciprocal links worked for you? How have they worked as part of your site strategy? Tell us more at WebProWorld.

Speaking at the Detlev Johnson-moderated track were Kaushal Kurapati of Ask Jeeves, Charles Martin of Google, Tim Mayer of Yahoo, and Ramez Naam of MSN Search.

While the session was being billed as the Search Engine Q and A On Links, the speakers each took turns giving a short presentation before they took questions from the audience.

Admittedly, the audience questions consisted of the standard “should I engage in a reciprocal linking campaign,” which seems much like the content you come across in the major SEO-related forums. However, while the search speakers did not really reveal anything new, the went a long way in confirming the information I delivered from the previous linking sessions.

Each speaker informed the audience to focus on producing quality content; using solid, keyphrase-based words in a link’s anchor text (as opposed to “Click Here”); avoiding link farms and purchasing links (a topic neither side, the SEO and the search engine reps will never agree on); and making sure that you don’t obsess about backlinks.

Instead, and much like the SEO/SEM perspective, the search reps want site owners to focus on producing quality content, which will help ensure these pages will be linked to.

One piece of information I’m pleased to divulge has to do with image links. Both sides of the search industry advise against using image links because the search engines cannot follow them.

However, if you are going to use image links, both Kaushal Kurapati of Ask.com and Greg Boser of WebGuerilla suggest including the link anchor text inside of the images alt tag. This will allow the spiders to follow and credit these links.

Looking at these linking sessions as a whole, the main theme, at least from my perspective, revolves around the production of quality content. By doing so, your site can be viewed as an authority in the field being targeted, which will help in the acquisition of passive links, something the engines seem to be placing more value on as it is.

There is, however, more to discussed here. Because the session was on a time limit, not all of the audience questions were answered. In order to accommodate the crowd, the search engine reps hung out afterward and continued to answer questions.

As with past conferences, normally, the bulk of these audience members gravitate to the Google rep, in this case, Charles Martin. After yesterday’s session, I’d say Martin has an idea of how the conference life of Matt Cutts goes.

Because of the recent chaos caused by Google’s notorious Jagger update, I wanted to get Martin’s thoughts about whether or not Google treats links differently with a post-Jagger index and algorithm in place.

Martin stated that Jagger was a name provided by the search engine crowd, not Google themselves. Concerning how Google weights and evaluates links in a post-Jagger world, Martin answered yes and no. Some links are treated differently while some are not.

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.

Linking Strategies – Search Engine Perspective
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