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Monday, November 01, 2004


Links and content: Blogs need both

Search engine optimization experts are often seen as roughly divided into two camps, regarding the relative importance of links and content.

Some experts recommend employing a powerful linking strategy to boost a blog in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The other theorists suggest that keyword rich content is king in the quest for high search engine rankings.

A third concept suggests, that both content and linking strategies are equally essential, to achieving top positions in the SERPs.

That idea is more likely the best one for most bloggers to employ.

If Content is King...

You need lots of keyword rich content, as a beginning.

If you aren't sure what a keyword is, it's simply a word or phrase someone would enter into Google's (or any other search engine) search box. For example, if you are writing a travel blog, your main keywords would revolve around travel, destinations, airlines, cruises, etc.

To go back a step, high rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) are the end product of what is known as an algorithm. It's simply a mathematical formula, that varies from search engine to search engine.

The algorithm focuses heavily on your incoming links, your website title and description, your scripting and coding, and your on page written content. While there are a lot more factors than that (Google says over 100), an important consideration are the keywords in your written content.

Search engines love content. Period. The more content on your blog, the better the search engine spiders will like it, when they come to crawl your blog. To make your content even tastier for the spiders, you need to use your targeted keywords fairly liberally on the page.

In other words, sprinkle your content, with the terms people might be searching for, and they will find you!

You can go keyword overboard and keyword all over by keyword covering your keyword page, but that keyword idea is a bit of keyword overkill.

You get the idea.

It also might backfire, as keyword "stuffing" is considered likely to be frowned upon by the search engines, and you might be penalized. A penalty is never a good thing. Being sent to the back of the search results, is not something you want to happen.

Use some logic and common sense in your approach to using keywords.

It's thought by some experts that about 3-4% of your words, should be your various keywords, for good search engine optimization. That is simply a guideline, and you don't have to strictly follow that rule. Blogs have far more latitude in that area, it seems.

In fact, the amount of keyword saturation is a debate in and of itself. What you do need, however, is to optimize your search terms, by using them freely throughout your page content.

If possible, fit your chosen search terms into your blog’s title, description, title tags, and URL. After that, place them in the headlines of your articles, and highly positioned on the page, whenever you are able.

When you write your content, be sure to use your targeted keyword(s) on your pages. In longer articles, you can slip them in as phrases two or three times. The search engine will calculate them to be important search terms for your search. As a result, your blog should rank much higher for those words.

Your site will rise higher in the various search engines.

Then Links are the Queen...

Keyword rich content will get you part way to your destination atop the search engine results. If you are seeking to gain high search engine results for highly competitive keywords, content is perhaps not enough on its own. The King needs help.

Every King needs a Queen.

In this case, the Queen is in the form of links.

You want your blog to rank highly, and content alone is not enough. Your blog needs a good linking strategy to add incoming links to your content. You also should consider linking out, to good quality blogs and other sites, that are of help and of interest to your visitors.

With newer algorithms thought to be taking link context and site themeing into consideration, you will want to be sure your linking policies take them into account. Consider the needs and requirements of your visitors first, and you are unlikely to go wrong.

Search engine algorithms not only consider the number of incoming links, but also their quality.

It is thought that links from blogs, with a similar topic or theme to yours, will carry much more weight than links from highly dissimilar sites. Some thought has also been given to the value of linking out to sites with closely related themes.

Make certain as well, that your blog maintains a strong ratio of incoming links to outgoing links. For every link going out to other sites, be sure to have several websites linking into your site.

Incoming links increase your blog’s Google Pagerank, which is the measure of the relative importance of a web page on the internet. A higher PageRank gives your blog a boost in the Google algorithm.

While PageRank is only one factor in the calculation, it is part of the algorithm, and therefore requires some consideration.

For off page linking benefit, it’s considered good practice to use theme related anchor text to lead to your blog. The anchor text should be some targeted keywords, specifically directed to the page being optimized.

While SEOs disagree as to the extent of the algorithm working against too many keywords used too often as off page anchor text, it’s easier to be safe than sorry. Varying the keywords in the off page anchors should help to eliminate that problem.

The Royal Couple work together for your blog

Since you can control the on page content of your blog, it is tempting to let King Content rule the Kingdom alone.

Content alone may be enough, to gain high search engine rankings in lightly contested, and perhaps in moderately competitive keyword situations.

On the other hand, avoid a strategy that considers only the Queen, and emphasises links at the expense of content. You will not get the full benefit from the search engines either, as the algorithms consider both links and content to be important.

Working with the strong content idea, links will be naturally attracted to your blog.

King Content and Queen Links working together as a Royal Family, will get your website to the Palace, in the form of high search engine rankings.

Let the King and Queen work in harmony for you.

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