December 2, 2009

Every Link comes with a Person(-a)

personality1After a searchmeet conference with loads of talk about links, I find it quite nice to kick back and write some about the social basics behind natural linking on the web. Cause links, as they are used, are more than a connection between two pages on the web. A link comes with a person, or more accurately it comes with a persona.

So, how can I say this? Well, basically this statement is two folded. If you recieve a link from someone they actually do more than connect their page to one of your pages. They connect everything that’s been said on that domain historically, along with all that will be said in the future when passing the link love along.

Secondly, it is allways a person linking. Even though there are some pretty neat spam tools out there, the common link is an action by a person, with a reason to use the link as a way to put a story into a context or mention what they are linking to with a good or bad reference.

Co-Citation

Many of us out there have read Jim Boykin’s Co-Citation post. I remember finding a link to it when reading a post written by Swedish SEO Jim Westergren sometime in 2007. What it says is basically that your website is effected by what neighborhood it is connected to. Just as we get judged by the crew we hang with when out in town a dark winter night. Google cares about which pages your web pages hang out with online. The way they judge your crew, and thus, what to label you with, is by watching what pages you are linked together with.

LSI/LSA – Latent Semantics

What this theory basically tells us is that in order to be an authority on a topic, you’ll have to know a lot about it. If you are an authority within a niche of a topic, then you’ll have to know all about that niche. Basically, LSA looks at what you know, if you know the details, the slang, the synonyms and if you can connect them to all other information in related topics. When Google uses LSI I suspect they have a look at first, what you write. Do you cover the full topic? Do you spend time on linking to individual pages about more detailed descriptions for complicated terms? Do you vary your copy to include all different synonyms and do link to the most authoritative page outside your own website when the info cannot be found on your own.

Semantics deal with meanings. If I write, “break a leg”, then that can mean a lot of things. It can be a wish for good luck, but it can also be a curse for bad luck. Google, and semantic analyzes takes aim at knowing when you mean which by determining the context in which you use the phrase. That is what LSA is all about.

A Person Links because

minimeOn the modern web the link to your website is shared amongst users if it leads to a valuable resource. Value can be determined in many ways, but in the end it is all about what the reader thinks is valuable. People will link to your content if they like it or if they think that you have said something important, or well explained enough for them to clarify what they themselves are writing. You complete them… to use words of Mini-Me.

Regardless of why a person links to you or not, a natural link comes with a motive. That motive might be praise, recognition or just simply a way to say that “you explain this better than I so I won’t even bother”. A link might also be a thank you for something you’ve done and it might sometimes be a sign of the fact that you belong in the same crew as another person. Blogroll links are commonly used to say; “we write about the same stuff”.

In the Eyes of Google

As your link profile starts to build, all the people linking to you becomes the mirror of your face online. Your persona builds from the way that others are including you in their multidimensional Internet. For each link your dependence to the next link decrease whilst your importance to the previous link increase. Your persona, and thus the personas of all the people who has previously linked to you, change as you get new links putting you in new light of the search engines.

In the eyes of Google, I suspect, your complete profile is a constantly changing process. Just as you grow older and gain wisdom, or idiocy, your link profile is what determines your position in the eyes of others. Have you been a “good” person, then you will probably have a “good” legacy. People will have linked to you because of your impression on them or because of your knowledge.

Google recognize this. They also recognize that a one time star, can fall if they break a trust. That’s why you have to build your links over time, at a constant and increasing flow as your reputation spreads all over the web.

What am I really trying to say

Well basically I am trying to say that the natural link exchange on the web, just as the relationships between people, performs just as judgmental as society. If you hang out with the wrong crew, or if you say the wrong things, then you’ll have a much tougher time making advances in life.

In the eyes of the search engine, you’ll have to keep the chin high, and not just leave a one time gigantic footprint. You have to care for your relationships and inbound links over time. You have to nurture where you get mentioned and how. You have to exercise the kind of judgment you would do in real life.

LSI and Co-citation tells us that it doesn’t matter if we wear a suit, if we hang out with gangsters. It is the association we bring that is important to how people will judge us, our websites and what we do online.

//Jesper

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