The Amazing Lore and Lure of Links

Look into my crystal ball … I can see the future – and it’s green… and has a Google Page Rank of three…

Every day I receive several e-mails from search engine marketers that wield so much power within the industry… they control Google. It’s true! It must be, because they all know with absolute certainty that each of their sites will go from a Google Page Rank of 1 to a Google Page Rank of 5 at the next update! Isn’t that amazing? They know this because they also know the person who cracked the Google code and this person knows that without a doubt, 5,001 links equals a Google Page Rank of 5! Wow, the excitement is building!! And, because they are now part of the ‘secret Page Rank club of knowledge’, they can predict with absolute certainty that the next Page Rank update is going to occur within four to six weeks from today. I was so fortunate to get this e-mail! This is almost too good to be true!!

Hmmm… maybe it is too good to be true. Maybe these people really don’t know the inner workings of Google! Maybe they really just want me to link to their site because I have something they want… a quality website! Ugh, I feel so deceived!

Well, okay – I’m being a little funny to make a point: When evaluating a site, the one thing you should look beyond is the one thing that people obsess about in great numbers, and that is the Google Page Rank.

Here’s an interesting challenge you can take. First, turn off the Google Page Rank from your toolbar. Yes, you read this right. Take a deep breath, click options, and uncheck the Page Rank (PR) display. It will be okay, really!

Now, open the next link exchange request e-mail that comes in. Is it in your industry? Does it look like something you would pursue further? Don’t let them tempt you with a high PR number! If it’s not in your industry, respond briefly with a quick no thanks. If it’s a good match, go to the website. Take a quick look around the site. Do you like what you see? The quality of the design, content, and optimization look okay to you? The page they are going to link to you from is nice and clean? You can navigate to it from the home page, or better yet, all pages? The link out to you is a true hyperlink? Source code looks good? Their directory or resources page is tightly focused on links that are relevant to your industry? You’re comfortable? Great, you can stop researching the site and agree to the exchange. Now, turn the Page Rank display back on. What do you see?

If you see a PR0 on the home page, this is likely a new site with a lot of potential based on everything you just checked. You can often confirm that by checking Whois data. I like getting links from today’s new PR0 site that will truly be tomorrow’s PR4 or up. I get in on the ground floor with a link located near the top of their page, and gratitude for trading with them when a site is new. That can be quite the challenge as anyone in the industry knows. In turn, this often results in further exchanges down the road on other sites they are working on. Establishing a good working relationship with a quality links manager can be a very good thing indeed.

Maybe the toolbar is displaying a Page Rank 2. Relax… they are working on their site, it’s in your industry and they are doing a lot of things right. You know this because you just approved everything they did with your research. Chances are, this site is going to improve and when it does, you’ll be there to reap the rewards, just as on the new site. And if it’s above a 3, well, you really don’t have to worry do you?

If you have the time, and especially when you are the one seeking links for your own or a client’s site, there are a couple other items you can research.

First, who is linking in to the site you are reviewing? Do they have high-quality inbound links that are – for the most part – tightly focused on their industry or from other directories and search engines? Do they have links in from educational sites? Government sites? Google’s love affair with .edu’s and .gov’s is still going strong.

Second, if this is an established site, what’s in the title tag of their home page? Figure out a keyword combination or two. Type it in to Google, Yahoo or MSN. Can you find them in the top fifty sites? The higher the better obviously!

Finding quality links is a time consuming process. The best link will be within your industry, will send you traffic, will give you increased visibility, and factor into search engine algorithms. There really isn’t an automated process or program that is going to deliver the type of quality to gaining inbound links that you or an experienced Internet Marketing company can.

Let go of the Google PR as a deal maker, become a savvy link researcher, and you’ll see the quality of your inbound links soar.

About Sara Mannix

Sara Mannix is the CEO of Mannix Marketing, Inc., a Digital Marketing Agency headquartered in Glens Falls, NY. She founded Mannix Marketing in 1996 with a goal to get clients "found" on the web through organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The company now serves over 1500 clients worldwide and employs a team of nearly 30 specialists, still operating under the tagline "We Get You Found On The Web." This multifaceted company is an industry leader, specializing in organic SEO, Conversion Rate Optimization, SEO-friendly Website Design, Online Advertising, Social Media and more. Mannix Marketing also has one of the largest portfolios of tourism and city guides in Upstate New York. These guides, which include Albany.com, Saratoga.com, LakeGeorge.com, GlensFallsRegion.com, CliftonPark.com and Adirondack.net, reach over 10 million visitors a year. Corresponding social media profiles for the region extend this reach to millions more on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.