26 Sep 2005

Picture of Link Neighborhoods

What’s the best order in the Chaos of Linking?

I’m often asked these questions:
How does Google order websites? How do Yahoo, and MSN order websites. Why don’t they give the same results? What does it take to be #1? Why did my rankings change?

I’m going to attempt to answer all these questions with a picture and a bit of explanation.

Here’s a picture of some linking neighborhoods. Print it out, then read below.

Think of all these clouds and houses as separate websites. The arrows represent links. Some links are one-way, and some are reciprocal.

Now, look at the picture and answer me quickly. What is the most popular sport?

Give up? Good, it’s a trick question.

Think of any search engine looking at this picture and trying to decide who should be #1.

They can “kind of” understand the neighborhood (here’s a bunch of sports sites linking around in a community), but even within this, who has the best equation to be #1?

Maybe Google likes the equation in my picture for “Hockey” and will place that at #1, and maybe MSN favors the linking equation of “Basketball”, and maybe Yahoo favors “Tennis”.

Maybe next month Google will change what equation it thinks is best and will favor “boxing” and sites with that type of linking structure. Yahoo and MSN will surely change what linking structures they prefer over time too. This is why rankings often change. It’s not always that you did something “right or wrong”, it’s just that ranking equations change, and they always will. What is perfect today, may not be tomorrow.

Next thought: Look at that site on the top right which is called “SEO”. This site follows popular SEO’d sites patterns (it’s got lots of links to it – but not from within the neighborhood). Each day, these types of sites are slipping in rankings.

Moral: Rankings change, and they always will. Stop chasing a moving target, and just settle down in your neighborhood and start making connections there. Buy, beg, borrow, or barter your way in, or get in with great content. He who is most connected in his neighborhood will have the most and the best rankings accross time and engines.