The Good Old Days – When Google Was Able to Be Exploited
In roughly the past few weeks, Google has upgraded its indexing system to Google Caffeine and has one again become best google scraping api search engine out there. Yes, even better than Bing. In addition to being faster and more accurate, Google is no longer easily manipulated by “black hat” SEO techniques. Anybody who bought incoming links from what are called high PR or Page Rank sites and connected them to relevant keywords on their homepage, depending on industry, could rank very highly for some pretty competitive search terms. In online marketing lingo, the improvement in s.e. rankings are referred to as “increase in SERP rankings” or some variation thereof. “SERP” stands for “search engine results page.”
Before Google Caffeine, the search engine used to determine its website rankings or SERP rankings for a particular search by the quality of “inbound links”. The higher ranked these links were and the more of them a site had, the better your search engine results would be. Makes sense, right? If the search engine ranked a site highly (see below for examples) and that particular site was vouching you were what you claimed to be, then, in most cases you were. Obviously, this did not turn out to be the case and Google needed to make a switch.
Google was basing the importance of these inbound links based on what is referred to as Google Page Rank. You can quickly look up the page rank “checker” if you would like to see examples. Page Rank or PR is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best. As one could imagine, there are not many 10s out there; the primary 10s are your Googles, etc. To a certain extent, link relevancy and Alexa had something to do with it, but the s.e. seemed to be manipulated by the same sites it ranked highly. To back track a second, link relevancy is how relevant a site to your industry was linking to you.
For instance, if you run a drycleaners in Dallas, any list with some Google authority (how much Google perceives that a website knows about a topic), would be considered a relevant inbound or incoming link. About a month and a half ago, a high PR (maybe 6) software site could make your rankings jump. This is no longer the case.
Sites with a high PR or Page Rank began selling text link ads to anybody and everybody. However, Google was giving out high Page Ranks to sites based on the sites they had linking into them. A lot of it started with a DMOZ link. DMOZ is an acronym for a website called “Open Directory Project” which is a very exclusive directory of websites, to say the least. I can only imagine the amount of submissions this site gets.
If you managed to get listed on DMOZ, Google would boost your PR as well jump your rankings in the SERPs. I’m sure there are other benefits to being included in this directory, though I have not studied the effects in too much depth.
So, if your site had a link from DMOZ it essentially was on steroids. It could pass this Page Rank from site to site. This would have a trickle effect. For instance, if you were in DMOZ, chances are you had a very solid PR, maybe a 7. Then, the included party would link to another site they own, and pass this Page Rank which may give you a PR 6. Through each website the passing of this ranking would become less and less potent, though the owner was left with one heck of an end-trail.
Then, the site owner would go to what is called a link broker and begin slapping irrelevant text ads on their site. Link brokers are no different than stock brokers or real estate brokers. They serve as the intermediary between a website owner and the party which would like to buy links. Prices on these links would vary, and could get into the $1,000s per month. There was and still is a direct relationship between the PR of and price paid for a website link.
When selling these ads, text link brokers still pitch this measurement, though it is not as close to important as it used to be.
New Search Engine Giving Out High Rankings These Days
Google updates Page Rank ratings from time to time and nobody really knows the exact date(s), though I have a feeling that the fun is over and Google is not giving these rankings out easily. If you were setting up to gain a high ranking and sell links, it seems that mom and dad came home right in the middle of your high school party. I have roughly 160 pages of sales and marketing articles (originally written) and have a Page Rank of 4. This doesn’t hurt my rankings nor do I really care too much as long as my company is doing well. However, having a high ranking is somewhat of a trophy to somebody who is into online marketing.
The New Google
Google can no longer be exploited via buying text links and slapping some content on your website. Now, Google seemingly put lets importance on Page Rank and more importance on relevancy of your links as well as their Alexa Rankings. A good Alexa Ranking has an inverse relationship to PR; the lower the Alexa ranking, the better. For Google this is probably a more effective approach and it cuts off the authority and influence that links from random, high ranking sites had on the search engine and its subsequent ranking system.
If a site has a low Alexa Ranking, that means that people who know enough about the web to download what is called an Alexa Toolbar are visiting the site. Therefore, if the site with a low ranking puts a link to you, it says that your website may be viable to the general public. It also alludes to the fact that maybe you are who you say you are. This is not a rule of thumb, as some low rating sites are selling text ads. However, these days, Google knows it. Personally, I am seeing relevance of an incoming link matter the most, though I’m sure this can be up for debate.
What Do We Do Now?
The best way to obtain links is to write articles and distribute them to sites which are relevant to your industry or are well known in general. In turn, the site will reference you and will link to you. Also, you must have a lot of original content on your site. One of the worst things you can do is to scrape content from others. Not only is Google on to this game, it shows little to no respect to the actual author as well. From what I have seen, I believe you can get caught these days.