The World Wide Web is like a democracy in which every web page can vote for other web pages. The more votes you get – the more pages that link to your pages – the higher your ranking on search engines. But there’s more to it than that…
This concept is called “Page Rank,” and it was conceived in a technical paper by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. So it could just as easily have been called “Brin Rank.” No other factor is more important when Google, and other major search engines, decide which web sites to show first in the search results.
For example, when I say that LibreOffice is an office suite, I’m voting for LibreOffice as “office suite” because I have linked to that site using those words. If you click on the words “office suite,” a browser window will open to show you the LibreOffice website. The words you clicked on are called “link text” or “anchor text,” and the search engines have decided they are almost the most important words on a web page.
If I had used the words “software program” as my anchor text instead, I would have been voting for LibreOffice as “software program.” If I had used the words “click here” instead of “office suite,” I would have been voting for LibreOffice as “click here.” Which would you rather have your website voted for?
“Google bombing” or “spamdexing” refers to conspiracies to use the same anchor text on hundreds of websites and weblogs, all pointing to the same webpage. Some famous examples were “nigritude ultramarine”, “talentless hack,”and “miserable failure.” Google bombing began as a prank, but some web marketers try to Google bomb their own sites, adding links to as many sleazy linkfarms, free blogs and guestbooks as possible. Google has taken steps to minimize this effect.
Though each link is a vote, each vote is not equal. The more web pages that vote for your web page (the more Page Rank your page has), the more votes your web page is able to cast. And you can split your votes. If your page links to two other web pages, half your votes will go to one web page and half to the other. If a page on another site links to three other sites, including yours, you will get one-third of its votes. Beware of sites that offer to make your site one of the thousands of irrelevant sites they link to. They are called linkfarms, and they can get your website banned by Google.
Pure link popularity is only somewhat helpful. Your pages also need to be popular among websites whose topics are related to yours. If you have a website about roses, you want other floral websites to link to yours, not gambling websites. Even though gambling websites are more popular! And you want people to be able to get to your site by clicking on the word “roses,” not “gambling.”
Suppose 200 floral sites link to “Roses R Us” using the word “roses” in the anchor text. Then you will want “Roses R Us” to link to your website, also using the word “roses,” but not to link to many other sites besides yours. Selfishness is natural.
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