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How Search Engines Determine a Link’s Value?

A smart content marketing campaign typically starts with researching sites that would provide the best visibility and reputation benefits for the publisher (consider conflict with prior assertion of, “Any campaign that starts with “getting links” as the objective…”). However, it may also be useful to have an understanding of how search engines place value on a link. Although there are many metrics for evaluating a link as previously discussed, as an individual link builder many of those data items are hard to determine (e.g., when a link was first added to a site).

It is worth taking a moment to outline an approach that you can use today, with not too much in the way of specialized tools. Here are factors you can look at:

  • The relevance of the linking page and of the linking domain to your site.
  • The PageRank of the home page of the site providing the link. Note that Google does not publish a site’s PageRank, just the PageRank for individual pages. It is common among SEO practitioners to use the home page of a site as a proxy for the site’s overall PageRank, since a site’s home page typically garners the most links. You can also use the Domain Authority from Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool to get a third-party approximation of domain PageRank.
  •  The perceived authority of the site. Although there is a relationship between authority and PageRank, they do not have a 1:1 relationship. Authority relates to how the sites in a given market space are linked to by other significant sites in the same market space, whereas PageRank measures aggregate raw link value without regard to the market space. So, higher-authority sites will tend to have higher PageRank, but this is not absolutely the case.
  • The PageRank of the linking page.
  • The perceived authority of the linking page.
  • The location of the link on the linking page
  •  The number of outbound links on the linking page. This is important because the linking page can vote its passable PageRank for the pages to which it links, but each page it links to consumes a portion of that PageRank, leaving less to be passed on to other pages. A simple way of expressing this
    mathematically is as follows:

For a page with passable PageRank n and with r outbound links:
Passed PageRank = n/r

It is likely that the actual algorithm used by the search engines is different. For example, the amount of PageRank may vary based on where it is on the page. Google has a patent which discusses the
concept of putting more value on links that are more likely to be clicked on by a visitor to the page, based on where the link is placed on the page or how it fits into the overall context of the page.

It can be useful to organize this data in a spreadsheet, or at least being consciously aware of these factors.
For many businesses, there will be many thousands of prospects, and other factors associated with content
marketing campaigns should also be taken into account. These include such factors as the impact on your
reputation, the potential for developing relationships with other influencers, social media sharing potential,
and more.

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