Fewer links mean challenges for Google...

Fewer links mean challenges for Google...

Summary: Bloggers appear to be linking less these days. This is a potential problem for Google because its search algorithm relies on links to find the important content . . .

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TOPICS: Browser, Google
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I've been noticing that there are far fewer links in posts these days. Five years ago when I first started blogging the blogosphere was all about links.

These days I see fewer and fewer links within posts. Just take a look at Techmeme, which aggregates new blog posts.

Initially, Techmeme's creator Gabe Rivera did a fantastic job with his algorithm. He was able to surface lots of interesting posts and also show who was linking to that post. Techmeme relied on links to find the best content.

But today, Techmeme relies on people, Megan McCarthy, and Twitter people (@atul) to find interesting posts because there are very few sites linking to other posts.

Looking at Techmeme today, there are many stories that have no links to them at all, or they are links from within their own sites. For example, a story on Sir Martin Sorrell (Sir Martin Sorrell: Rupert Murdoch's pay wall plan is right) from the Daily Telegraph shows one link, from a Daily Telegraph blog.

The demise of linking seems as if we have gone back to where things stood five years ago, when newspapers hated linking out to other news sites, or even acknowledging that other news sites existed.

Bloggers loved linking and many still do it -- but not as much, especially if they've transitioned into online news magazines such as GigaOm, or ReadWriteWeb, blogs only in name because they use blogging software (Wordpress) to publish but act like and look like the traditional old media.

This all has a more serious implication: Google PageRank. The whole bedrock of Google's search is in links. That was its founders' great insight: pages with more links to them are more important than those with fewer links. There is a PageRank patent.

Not everyone has reduced their linking. Spammers and publishers of commerce sites are continuing to use links a lot because that's what Google pays attention to in determining the quality of a page. This means that if non-spammers are linking less then Google's first page of results is going to get flooded by spam.

Maybe you are already noticing less relevance in Google results?

Will Google reward pages that have fewer links in them? Or will it penalize pages that have too many links to them because it's likely to be spam? It would seem Google must make these types of adjustments.

Topics: Browser, Google

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4 comments
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  • The irony

    Is that you didn't link to the dupe of this post: http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2009/10/the_demise_of_l.php
    Andrew Mager
    • No value...

      There's no value in my linking to essentially the same post...
      foremski
  • Absolutely.

    It always makes me laugh when people defend Google with regards to Bing. They claim Google gives them more "relevant" results.

    They are completely deluding themselves in all honesty. As much as I have tried to explain how (and why) Google is gamed so much they just stonewall.

    I guess no-one wants to hear their girlfriend is a terrible cheat. And that the only sites on top of google for certain keywords inevitably use black hat SEO tactics to get there.

    Then, I guess, these people know nothing about link pyramids, google bowling, setting up blogs, automated forums and linking to the target site. Then you have keyword density, ensuring the alt tags and other on page SEO where the copy isn't written for the audience but for the Google Algorithm.

    But hey, what do I know. Google is far superior in its relevancy. Mmmmm, maybe because guys like me make sure when you type in "cheap flights to amsterdam" that sure enough the title says "cheap flights" and the < h1 > tags say <h2>cheap flights</h2>, and you can rest assured if you were selling cheap flights that the keyword density of <h2>"cheap flights"</h2> was at least 7%. And then I would link from a link bait site with one or two links to the target site using <h2><a href="www.google.co.uk">"cheap flight"</a></h2> anchor text. Below those link bait sites would be semi-blog, automated forums, etc, linking upwards (never downwards or accross) to the link bait sites. Below these would be spam sites, just keywords, links, anywhere, everywhere. Only ever linking upwards, never downwards, and never to each other.

    Watch all that link juice get passed to the target site and hey presto "cheap flights" you want, "cheap flights" i give u.

    Of course Google is relevant. People have paid a lot of money for those keywords. ;)

    BTW, I cannot believe you allow < h1 > tags and other HTML in these posts... Nice to know, ;)

    <h1><a href="http://www.googleanalyticsadvice.eu">Advice on Google Analytics</a></h1>

    Thanks.
    :)
    Bozzer
  • RE: Fewer links mean challenges for Google...

    Time passes, and the "shiny" wears off -- and the increasingly obvious additional effort involved in verifying a link before embedding it, making sure it is pertinent and still live, let alone judging how SECURE it may be -- the rational for embedding links appears to be changing faster than Google's ability to adapt.

    Keep hoping we'll see someone patenting and promoting "personal credibility certificates" where an ongoing tally of "meaningful" and "pertinent" for each new post adds overall credibility to an individual poster. At which point the fact that YOU say so becomes meaningful and pertinent, and judgments can be made on the basis of individual merits and track-records. Establishes a barrier for easy entry (economics majors, what does THAT lead to?) and provides an independent metric for comparison and exclusion criteria.

    Netflix recently paid off on a prize for improving the state-of-the-art in regards predicting viewer satisfaction based on a past history of that same viewer's choices. Not a large step farther to apply something similar to "rated" content, and the algorithms evolved aren't computationally exorbitant, quite...
    flared0ne