The concept of using links as a way to measure a site’s importance was first made popular by Google with the implementation of its PageRank algorithm (others had previously written about using links as a ranking factor, but Google’s rapidly increasing user base popularized it). In simple terms, each link to a web page is a vote for that page. But it’s not as simple as the page with the most votes wins. Links and linking pages are not all created equal. Some links are weighted more heavily by Google’s PageRank algorithm than others.
The key to this concept is the notion that links represent an “editorial endorsement” of a web document. Search engines rely heavily on editorial votes. However, as publishers learned about the power of links, some publishers started to manipulate links through a variety of methods. This created situations in which the intent of the link was not editorial in nature, and led to many algorithm enhancements.
To help you understand the origins of link algorithms, the underlying logic of which is still in force today, let’s take a look at the original PageRank algorithm in detail.
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