Improving SEO By Controlling Linkbacks

One of the basic strategies of search engine optimization is link control. Search engines typically give a website credit for every inbound link from other websites, and a demerit for every outbound link to another website. (Editorial note: every search engine qualifies sites differently, and few reveal the criteria they use to rank sites. ) So it benefits a site to get other people to link to it, even through user generated webpages such as forums, wikis, comment sections, etc.

This has led to rampant spamming of these user generated webpages. To combat this problem Google has created a special tag which instructs the browser not to follow a link. The rel = “no follow” does as it implies – it tells the search engine not to follow the link. Previously this could only by done per page, from code within the page’s meta tags. This does not effect a visitors ability to click on a link and go to your website. It only pertains to search engines spidering your site from user generated content pages.

This is only a suggested change, and it doesn’t pertain to all search engines. But so far, Google has rallied some of the largest content delivery services and search engines to embrace the rel = “no follow” protocol.

  • LiveJournal
  • Scripting News
  • Six Apart
  • Blogger
  • WordPress
  • Flickr
  • Buzznet
  • blojsom
  • Blosxom
  • MSN Spaces

Additionally Yahoo! and MSN Search are supporting rel = “no follow” as well. You can read more about this here:

In the past, we’ve recommended forum and comment marketing as a good way to communicate with a specific target market, with the added benefit of receiving an inbound link from other sites. (note: we’ve advocated using linking only in a manner respectful to the online community, within relevant content and also within your posting signature).

This new protocol obviously effects your online marketing and search engine optimization strategy with regards to link building, and you should adjust your strategy accordingly.

Blogging For Business

Our friends at HubSpot have developed this great overview of the power and value of blogging for business.

It is a must read!

Some feedback for your consideration:

  • HubSpot notes that including links to your website in the comment section of other blogs is usually futile, as many blogs tag links within comments with “no follow” – instructing the search engine not to follow the link. The reality is that “no follow” is suggested … and while many search engines honor “no follow”, some don’t. In any case, any links should be relevant, and should not be “spammy”. Respect other people’s blogs as you expect them to respect yours. Also, remember that you should always include your contact information (email, twitter username, etc.), in addition to your thoughtful and valuable comment post. Give readers the ability to follow your future posts!
  • HubSpot recommends always hosting the blog on your own server (not using third party services). While they do have a point (it is almost always best to own as much of your proprietary business property as possible), it isn’t as mandatory as the video makes it sound. Most third party blogging software solutions allow you to export your content, so that you can start with an inexpensive third party blogging solution, and then migrate to an internal solution when you have the financial and human resources to support it. That said, you should use your own domain name for your blog. This is critical, as this is where all of your inbound links and natural online traffic will be directed.
  • I often recommend, especially in situations where budgets are limited and / or the business case has not been fully vetted, that clients start with a blog rather than investing in an expensive website. Build your blog (and following) first, then build the website around the blog. Doing this is very cost effective, and also gives your followers a sense of ownership in the future of your website.