Another gem from SEO guru Tony Roocroft, a mentor and friend.

Critical to SEO Success: Link Popularity and Link Relevancy.

  • Links: You need them.
  • Links: You need lots of them.
  • Links: You need lots of RELEVANT or RELATED links

Links on a web page enable the visitor to move around within and without a website easily.

A significant proportion of any website’s visitors will probably arrive at the site or page from a direct search query. By this I mean if a searcher types in good cheddar cheese he will be taken directly to a page about good cheddar cheese. On the other hand the searcher may have come from a link elsewhere maybe the searcher had been looking at a completely different site about English cheeses and saw a link to the site about good cheddar cheese.

When I review my own websites logs I find that about 60% of all page views come from search engines. The rest from other links or bookmarks.

Assuming these results are typical then by focusing solely upon keyword usage to drive traffic to your site you will limit the amount of traffic to your site. It is obvious that to maximize traffic a strategy of getting links to your web pages/websites must be incorporated into your web marketing work.

Incoming links to a website, using the words of Google developers Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page indicate relevance and to a lesser degree quality of the web page. PageRank (named after Larry page) on the other hand indicates the popularity of a web page. Google’s main aim has always been to deliver quality results and has used popularity and link relevancy as a means of identifying this.

Think of it this way… if a lot of 3rd party websites relevant to your topic link back to you voluntarily those websites are telling Google (who follows links) that your site is highly relevant. This process of linking back is compared to citations in the academic world. The importance of any technical paper is judged by the number of other people referencing the work. So it is with web pages.

These two concepts are very important in our attempts to rank highly on a SERP.

In general on-page factors have an unknown but finite limit to their ranking value in terms of SERPs whilst linking does not. For this reason the best optimized page in the world will generally lose out to a web page with lots of incoming links even if the page has been optimised for keyword use.

Links and Link Content… Anchor Links and Link Text

I always talk of Google as though it was a human. Let’s therefore say Google comes across a new link. How does Google decide if this is a good link relevant to a topic or not? The first check will be to read the link text. If the link text to our vuvuzela website home page on a 3rd party site read said Buy Vuvuzelas then Google assumes the page the link is pointing to is about buying Vuvuzelas. If indeed the page is about buying Vuvuzelas then Google sees this link as being highly relevant. On the other hand if the page is about onions then Google will downgrade the link since there is an immediate and obvious disconnect.

This means gathering links for the sake of gathering links has limited value. Not long ago this way of obtaining links was very popular and certainly helped greatly in obtaining high rankings. The system was so abused however it didn’t take long for Google to discount all these phoney links.
Anchor Text in Links

* Most surfers look to top of page and left hand side of page for most important links and especially Home Page.
* No harm is done using bold text for links. It is possible it would help if related to the keyword. Remember Google knows if you have used a bold keyword. To you and me bold signifies more important.
* Most people expect links to be blue underlined but they can be other colors of course. My advice here is simple: generally use blue underlined links and especially so in body text.
* A link is still a link if the underlining is removed. Many websites are using CSS now to create links that are of a different color rather than use underline.
* If you have a web page for which the keyword is garden and you have put effort into optimizing the on-page factors such as including garden in the Title and the word garden being well distributed in the body text and on page links then it is very important that on other web pages on your site that links back to this page include the word garden. If your keyword was water gardening then the whole phrase should be included in the link text pointing back to this page. See the point above.
* In encouraging others to link back to your web page always remember to attempt to get them to use your own words which would of course would include the keyword.

In arranging links take note that the following URLs are all technically different so standardize on what you prefer they all work the same way but search engines may well see them as different URLs and using a mixture could have a negative impact upon your PageRank.


It is probable that where the link has appropriate normal text containing the keyword in close proximity to the actual text which also includes the keyword is better than a plain link. This layout could provide dividends in a site map for example.

This is typical of a normal citation and is another way of rewarding well-designed web pages and an approach that makes spamming even more difficult. This is the type of link information also provided by most good directories and many directories are manually checked and arranged.

In summary… the single most important factor that will determine high page rankings in Google for competitive phrases is the number of relevant links to a page. Internal site links are important but not as much as external links.

Link Building is far from easy and is very time consuming. There are many 3rd parties prepared to go out hunting links for you. It is a truly thankless task yet for great SEO success it’s vital.

Tony Roocroft