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.


  1. SEO Link Neighborhoods and Theming September 27, 2005 at 2:17 PM

    […] Jim Boykin offers excellent advice in his most recent post on link neighborhoods: 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. […]

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    […] Jim Boykin schreibt in einem Blog-Eintrag über Linknachbarschaft und liefert dazu ein Bild zur Illustration mit. […]

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    […] Who you trade links with is your closest neighborhood. Who are they getting their links from, and is it in a neighborhood that’s in any way related to your neighborhood? If not delete the email. (for more info on neighborhoods, see this post.) […]

  5. Jim Boykin’s SEO Thoughts » Blog Archive » Changes and Paranoia - the sky is falling October 18, 2005 at 11:44 AM

    […] I’d look at what Google might be trying to achieve in the top 10 results, and that will give you some clues as to what Google might be looking for, and just how little tweaks in their algorithm can cause such havoc in rankings. I’d also follow it by looking at link networks, the way Google might strive towards. […]

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    […] Picture of Link Neighborhoods – Sept 26 […]

  7. » Do Your Users Trust You?: 21 Tips for Improved Website Credibility - Stuntdubl - SEO Consultant January 31, 2006 at 7:27 PM

    Pingback 1. About page Show your history. “…since 1945″ looks real nice to someone wondering if your legit or a dropshipper with a markup and no customer service. People are going to skim online. Don’t waste words and highlight the most important things. 2. Pictures of REAL people Even if your kinda fugly show your smiling mug. Using photoshop for zits is okay. 3. An 800 number Preferably with someone that actually answers it (at least during business hours). 4. Contact page with physical address

  8. Jim Rockingham February 14, 2006 at 6:37 PM

    I believe its true “He who is most connected in his neighborhood will have the most and the best rankings accross time and engines”. Provided that they in turn have good “Page Rangings”

  9. Hans June 18, 2007 at 6:49 AM

    I sometimes thougt about neighbourhood, but main problem is, that many “neighbourhood”-cooperators ASK your links (and services), but when YOU ask them something, they act pretty restrictive…(especially, when represented by a “webmaster”…).

  10. Tyler Dewitt July 20, 2007 at 7:46 PM

    Good stuff Jim, I’ve always been impressed with what you’ve had to say. 🙂

  11. sven September 17, 2007 at 7:44 AM


    Thanks! a very good article!

  12. rathan roy September 18, 2007 at 3:11 AM

    i can’t really understand what’s locally connected. is it linking to as many local websites as possible?

  13. Kraus September 19, 2007 at 12:09 PM

    I see it in the same way like Jim. But I have another question. Everybody says that the PR is very important. But it hasn’t been updated since 144 days. Do anybody know why Google is not updating the sites anymore. Is this the end of PR? Would be glad if someone could write a little bit about this topic. Thanks a lot. Great blog.

  14. Matt Cotter September 20, 2007 at 9:00 AM

    Matt Cutts has said (http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/whats-an-update/) that toolbar Page Rank is only updated about every three months. We’re only at five months now so I wouldn’t worry too much yet. Don’t forget that the actual Page Rank of a page is continuously updated internally by Google, you’re just not seeing the up-to-date value.

    A few months ago Google removed the supplemental results label to prevent SEOs from using that data to help increase their website rankings. Ruining the accuracy of the Page Rank toolbar might be what Google is going to do next to keep SEOs guessing.

  15. Chris November 19, 2007 at 5:16 PM

    Great post Jim. I notice the more links I get that are topically related to my site definitely helps me in the serps. If my business is a local fitness business. Does it help to have links from site that are local but not related to my industry? Say i’m in fitness in LA, how much does it help to have a link from an attorney in La?

  16. female bodybuilder December 2, 2007 at 2:13 AM

    i never thought of looking at is as a picture. That is very interesting way of seeing it. Thanks.

  17. Nick Garner December 20, 2007 at 1:06 PM

    interesting diagam… I guess the problem is working out which links are the best for a given neighbourhood.

    Forinstance its fine if you have an overall theme for a given site, but what about a site with relatively divergent themes? are you better splitting the site up and running ‘purer” content, or do you go for being an authority and hope to be ranked across the board?

  18. fragrance buff March 24, 2008 at 5:30 PM

    so in other words, linking is an important part of SEO but the links have to be from related topics as we are told over and over. Now my question is, is it better to have low value (low PR) links from related neighborhoods or high value (high value) links from non-related neighborhoods?

    Should we try to do a mix of both ! or don’t even bother acquiring links from high value sites if they are not from a related neighborhood?

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