Whenever a client asks us why we do the things we do (especially when it comes to ranking their website on search engines), most of the time it’s unreasonably difficult to explain. Link building is especially frustrating. To understand the importance of building links, you have to understand how Google works, and to understand how Google works you have to understand how the internet works, and to understand how the internet work…
You get the idea. It turns out the best way to demonstrate how Google ranks pages has been staring me in the face for 6 months.
Twitter and Google
On the microblogging site Twitter, a “follow” counts as a vote of confidence. If someone follows you, that means they think you are important enough to listen to.
And if you follow someone, you care what they have to say. The internet works in exactly the same way. Except the “follows” are hyperlinks. Google views every hyperlink to your site is a vote of confidence.
They use the number of links, where they came from, and how many links you have to other sites to determine the importance of your site.
It’s really easy to visualize this on Twitter. Let’s take my profile: I’m interested in what 69 people are saying, and about 56 are interested in me. That seems to be about average, nothing too unbalanced.
I’ve built up a healthy little community. Now let’s look at someone who’s a bit more famous than me: More than 23,000 people think Shaq is interesting enough to follow. That’s a very large number, and it communicates (truthfully) that Shaq is “more important” than I am.
But also (more importantly) it says something about the people he is following. If this NBA Hall of Famer with 23,000 followers chooses you to be one of his 336, your profile must be pretty important as well.
Importance of Good Links
Google recognizes that the same thing happens on the Web. Sites with a ton of links pointing to them are more important than those with only a few.
But quality counts just as much as quantity. Links from the White House, Microsoft.com, and Adobe to your site would boost your rankings to more than 5,000 links from no-name sites. It’s easy to see why: follows from Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, and Charles Barkley on Twitter say more about that person than 5,000 follows from average Twitterers like myself.
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