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Not All Search Engines Treat Back Links Equally

SEO results So, you managed to trade links with your neighbor down the street, who also has a fledgling website all about knitting (She couldn’t hold a stitch to Martha, of course). Your precocious niece shows you how to check on your link share with the search engines, which you do religiously every single day. Weeks go by, then in and out of a month and still nothing. For once, Martha seems unconcerned and just goes on knitting, but you are becoming a little exasperated once again by this whole World Wide Wait.

Previous articles explored the fact that inbound links to your website are a good thing but not all inbound links are created equally. The quality of links has become more important than just the number of links, such that:
  • Reciprocal links are not as valuable as one-way links.
  • Topical links are more valuable than generic links.
  • Topical links from established, trusted sites are even better.

Not only are not all links created equally, the search engines themselves vary considerably in how they treat links. Different search engines have different algorithms for ranking links. Also, search engines have different periods of time before they will "count" your links.

Link Building and the MSN Search Engine:

  • MSN is the fastest for "counting" your link building efforts.
  • MSN takes about 21-30 days to "count" your back links.
  • Also, MSN seems to "count" just about any type of link, relevant or not*.

While MSN has the lowest number of searches performed on it (of the top three engines), there is evidence that MSN searchers are also 48% more likely to purchase a product or service online than the average internet user - a very important statistic for website owners that sell online.

*Note: That doesn’t mean that you should sign up for a link farm service that typically generates hundreds or even thousands of links in a short time. Such accelerated link building can trigger a search engine filter that may actually penalize a site for this practice.

Link Building and the Yahoo Search Engine:

On Yahoo, you must have more patience. Links start to get "counted " in 60-90 days; however, the full weight of a back link is not counted for about eight months. Yahoo does not seem to pay close attention to relevance at this time. But it does count how popular the website is that gave you the link (PR is an indicator). Please keep in mind that in Yahoo it will take 60-90 days for your link to appear.

Link Building and the Google Search Engine:

You are going to need even more patience with Google. For starters, do not expect any new website to rank for a medium to hard keyword phrase based on link share for at least 14 months. Google is very discriminating regarding back links.

After your website has been around for about 14 months, you can expect your links to be partially counted (as long as you didn't get them too fast for your vertical market). Any new links that you get that are one-way and relevant should be partially counted within 90 days. How long until the link is fully counted depends on the vertical market of your website.

Things Google does not like:

  • Since the Jagger update in November 2005, Google no longer likes reciprocal links (where you give a link to get a link).
  • Google no longer likes link directory links (usually categorized and your link is mixed in with 20 or more links).
  • Google does not like it when you get too many links too fast (the rate differs for each vertical market).

So, what does Google like?

  • One way links
  • Permanent links
  • Relevant links
  • Differing anchor text

How to check your link share

Use the link command in the search field of the search engines. Just type in "link:" and hit enter. Drop the quotation marks and replace with your domain name. used to be the best place to get a true reading of the number of links pointing back to your site. however, for want of a better explanation, has been somewhat "wonky" lately, so don’t even bother. Google, on the other hand, is tighter than ___ (you fill in the blanks), generally admitting knowledge of only about 10% of the actual number of links it recognizes pointing back to your site — something about protecting its algorithm and SEO manipulation jargon. So, forget Google. Fortunately, Yahoo remains neither wonky nor stingy — use the link command there and you will be rewarded for your efforts.