Dave is right, but there are some insights that he should have included that would have made this a more useful article. Yes, Google is on record as saying that inbound link quality has become one of the (if not the) primary relevancy criteria. And yes, as goes Google, so goes the rest of searchenginedom.
But he could have also said that Google places high link quality ratings to listings on the OTHER human directory - the Open Directory Project. Everyone keeps thinking Yahoo, Yahoo, but the ODP is a sleeping giant...now made much more important by the very points he raised in his article. And they don't charge inclusion fees (of course, their editors may take 3-4 months to review your submission, but so did Yahoo's).
He should have also said that it's not just any links, but SOLELY TEXT LINKS. Graphical links are (for some incredibly stupid reason) invisible to the search engine spiders. Sooner or later the SEs will wake up to this...why they haven't is beyond me.
Then he should have said that it's not just where the text links are pointing from, but what what the text links use. So a link that says www.techtransform.com has WAY less relevancy value than a link that says "high tech turnaround artist" or "technology company transformation" or whatever it is you're up to these days. (In addition, the more links are on the page pointing to yours, the less relevancy each of those links has, so just getting onto someone's Links page is good, but not as good as you'd think.)
Also, many people lose sight of what exactly is getting indexed by Google and all the others. The key is to "optimize" individual pages. Sites don't get ranked, pages do. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) people get this, but many do-it-yourselfers forget about it. So unless your entire site is focused on a single idea (say, leaf blowers) it's critical to construct optimized search phrase landing pages...screw the homepage.
And not to get too long-winded (oops, too late), but it's interesting to note that the Web has ALWAYS been about links. The last few years everyone seemed to get "search engine myopia". All the attention was on "defeating" the SE's ranking algorithms. Wrong wrong wrong.
Thanks to the big brains at Google, the focus is finally coming back to keel: good inbound links from good sites drive good traffic and high relevancy rankings. That's not an SEO statement, it's a web statement. Build links for their own sake and the search engines will reward you for it.
There are some fabulous new tools to help do this incredibly tedious work, too. But my fingers are too tired to elucidate....
Posted 18 November 2002
We pestered Scott about the tools:
Oh, that tools thing: the link analysis gem is called OptiLink. It's a cheesy site but a remarkable piece of software. And I love it when the developer PHONES ME UP when I have a pesky upgrade issue.
Posted 8 June 2003