To Link or Not to Link? That is the Question.
Vertical linking; will it help my rankings? Is it important? Does it matter? These questions are often asked of site owners in regards to increasing their rankings in the search engine listings. I'd like to shed some light on this subject and answer these questions.
Search engines place major importance on vertical linking when establishing a site's search engine positioning. You see, these links are often seen as positive votes for the site being linked to. This tells the search engines that your site is important and authoritative.
Recently, Google for one has performed the "Jagger" update (phase 3 of this update is still in progress at the time of this writing). This update includes even more refined link detection and determination factors in regards to a site's link popularity and importance. In other words site's with more authoritative links pointing to it are seen as more important and thus are given a higher page rank and ultimately a higher search engine results position.
How can I compete? This question is another that is often asked of site owners. Sites such as CNN.com and others that have been around for a long time have many links pointing to them as they are seen as an authoritative figure in regards to providing useful information. While you may not be able to compete with this type of site for some of the top major keywords and phrases it is possible to compete for some of the more niche type keywords and phrases. It seems the days of the level playing field in regards to all keywords and phrases are days that have passed us by.
Site owners should identify more targeted niche areas and concentrate on compiling links from those niche markets. This will allow them to compete or dominate the search engine results as an authoritative figure in these categories.
In terms of ranking well in Google and other search engines, links are of huge importance even more so today. All of this should come as no surprise, as it makes sense that the engines would rank long established sites that have been obtaining legitimate links for a long period of time well in the search results. Sites that have been using get link quick schemes from link farms etc. have dropped as they should.
We've been preaching all of this to clients for a long time in preparation for this known evolution. The message here is that if you are not currently exchanging links with other sites, it would be in your best interest to get busy! Just be sure you are linking properly and your site should do okay.
About The Author: Kevin Gee is a certified SEO specialist through Coastal Carolina University and has been performing SEO strategies since 1998. He is currently employed as Internet Marketing Manager at JUMP Internet Marketing.