A while ago I wrote a post where I mentioned in passing the concept of Link Worth a numerical value for inbound and outbound links. I think the idea is worth exploring so today I would like to invite you into some of the inner workings of Venture Skills and show you how we use the concept of Link Worth in our day to day life.
What is the value of a link?
A link is a link is link, a common mantra but not all links are equal, indeed inbound links from the same page are not always equal. Most Search Engines recognise this and provide a means to not only weight a page but the links on the page. While I’m not going to bore you with the maths we use and remember it’s the math we use not the search engines, “Link Worth” is very much an internal calculation method, I will cover some of the factors and how they relate to each other.
Link Worth is not Page Rank
You never know “Link Worth” and Page Rank may have many factors in common but they are not the same beast (pun intended for regular readers oink oink) and deal with very different problems. Page Rank deals with page and “Link Worth” an individual link on a page. But the biggest difference is that “Link Worth” is a numerical value of weight and not a probability score.
Weighting Factors of Link
For a given link the following are factors reflecting its weight;
- Number of Links on the Page
- Type of Link
- Number of links inbound to the page (and type)
- Associated on page factors
Number of Links on the Page
This is a simple one as a links value is depreciated the more links there are on the page, if you think of pages as containers of liquid with a number of holes punched in the side the amount of potential liquid that passes through a given hole is decreased with each additional hole. Of course the position of the holes have a huge impact on this analogy which is just as well as we will cover that in a moment.
Type of Link
So simple Block Segmentation Analysis it was new and cool, but I have a confession, while we might not have been using the terminology the ideas behind that post all be it on a smaller scale have been in place for a couple of years. So please bare with me, if the terminology changes in this section a little bit but:
A Link block, is a cluster of links internal or external on a page which are separate from the immediate topic of the page. Such blocks, navigation, Blog rolls, paid links (sorry informative links) could be viewed in our container model as being of less value then links within the content and so are further up the container their potential spillage is less.
Now as these blocks repeat across the site (a common navigation for example) their position in any given container remains the same this position has some influence on Link Worth but is in this case more related to “Risk Level”
Links to the page of the link
Keeping with the analogy the amount of liquid heading to the page with our link on it is dependent on the number of links, their type and location within their respective container. Therefore a huge factor in how much “Link Worth” a link can pass on to a page is inbound links. This does create a catch 22 situation when it comes to first starting the ball rolling, as our ranking mechanism is totally reliant on other links already having a value. Given we are not Google and do not have the ability to map link worth on the scale we have to force values into the system. When determining “Link Worth” of a given link as a practical measure we take the link and several layer deep links to it as an isolated sand box.
Side Note – Link Limitations
For us using the system this limitation has been an interesting problem one suggestion put forward and experimented with once developing a probability or link potential score, today we normally just inject as our starting values a range and then average out the results. Still maybe the potential other methods would make a good post.
On Page Factors
Using a simplified block analysis it is easy to identify tags held within headings, near headings, within content, and the anchor text relationship to the page. In many ways this is a sub section of type of link rather then a weighting factor of its own. But there are some on page factors that weigh in such as headings.
What we don’t factor into Link Worth!
While the amount of traffic a Link has passing through every day is and should be a major factor it is also one hard to measure every link has the potential of bringing an unlimited amount of visitors. For example pages years old which may not have brought a visitor in years can be Dugg! Most services like Compete or Alexa rely on traffic across the domain as opposed to the page and so from a practical point of view tracking visitor potential is difficult anyway.
The relevancy of a topic is not a simple one to determine and we are not talking LSI here. What experiments we have done has been limited to clustering folksonomies (tags) into groups but this only works if the inbound link are tags and the page has some tagging system. Obviously this is a potential point to work on but for now relevancy is well irrelevant to us.
Risk Level within Links
For some of our activities we have a different index score which runs along side Link Worth and that is the potential risk of a given link. Now risk is an odd concept mainly based on the assumption you are doing something which holds some element of danger. When we assign risk to a link, like “Link Worth” it is made up of a number of factors:
Paid Links on the page, this is a pretty obvious one and while creating a paid link detector based on content relevancy is pretty hard to do, identifying paid links based on link analysis and the psuedo authority like effect that occurs on a site buying links means that it is a lot easier then most people think to identify sites which are in turning selling links. Obviously links from such sites have a potential risk associated with them, even if its guilt by association.
Negative Link Worth, sometimes the value of a given link is actually a negative number, this normally can only occur in truly massive links pages though top 100 lists are a good example where the link is so diluted and so many other factors that the link is in the “link worth” system worthless, in such cases it may also be related to a potential risk.
So how do we use it? Well here is a few of the things we do related to “Link Worth”
Simply the value of a given link, we get link exchange, requests people offering to sell us stuff all the time it’s nice to know the value of the link being offered along with the risk. While we do not offering Link Building services one of our planned projects is to map known directories and provide our third party partners with the list weighted.
This is a huge part of business creating models of sites both those that exist and those in the planning stage and model how links will interact and how to maximise some pages. This has loads of names in the industry though most do it through trial and error rather then planning. By simulating links adding, removing, changing how link blocks work we can generate more efficient layouts while still keeping the usability.
Once a site is off the ground we use Link mapping along with risk analysis to create simplified link models, to identify holes in an SEO strategy through to spotting our competitors SEO tactics and paid links. Finally the technology is great for quickly accessing new or potential clients existing sites allowing us to make suggestions on why some pages may be under performing.
Google Reconsideration requests
Want to find those spammy doorways or large link silos? Not a problem we have designed a map pattern specifically to work with “Link Worth” to help us spot those potential issues. Nothing replaces going through a site by hand which is what we do with all new clients who come asking for help in this matter, but it’s still handy tool.
This was a quick intro to what we are doing, it is not what Google is doing and I don’t want people to go away think of Link Worth as the next buzz term. But next time you are offered a links stop and think how much is it worth?