SEO experts are agreed that off-page optimisation is more important than on-page optimisation. Off-page optimisation is about procuring backlinks from other websites whereas on-page optimisation relates to enhancing webpage content and underlying coding.
It is apparent that backlinks are advantageous and search engine optimisers and website owners are understandably keen to attract them. Consequently, an SEO industry has developed based on the acquisition of backlinks either placed by individuals who undertake the task manually or by the use of programs that place backlinks by automation.
Inbound links to a webpage or website can be of benefit in three ways.
Firstly, provided the page with the outbound link has PageRank, it will release link juice (link value) to the linked page quality backlinks. The total quantity of link juice received determines the PageRank of the webpage. Most webpages have a link to the website homepage. As a result, HomePages will usually have higher PageRank than internal pages. In a previous article (PageRank is the Best Indicator of Competition Strength for a Keyword in SEO – New Verifiable Theory) it was demonstrated that for internal pages, Google looks at the website homepage PageRank to determine its view of the importance of the page. HomePages that are competing for a keyword receive a boost in their effective PageRank.
Secondly, the anchor text (the text used in a link) advises the search engines on the content of the linked page whether this is true or not. Famously, a search for the keyword ‘click here’ will reveal an Adobe page as number 1 on the search engine results page. This Adobe page has nothing to do with ‘click here’. This keyword does not appear in the text of the page nor in the underlying coding. The Adobe page is top because a multitude of webpages with a link to the Adobe page have ‘click here’ as the anchor text.
Finally, a link on a webpage may encourage visitors to move from one website to another.
It is in the interests of search engines that they order webpages in their results pages according to merit. Techniques such as developing quality content are acceptable (White Hat) but techniques that distort the value of a webpage or website are considered as inappropriate or ‘Black Hat’.
Matt Cutts, a Google spokesman, has suggested that SEO should be based on the Katamari philosophy. This concept involves starting with a small object and gradually rolling it along so that the ball becomes ever bigger.
The search engines have sophisticated means to find and disregard black hat techniques including artificial link building. For example sudden, erratic spurts of backlinks to a website would suggest that these links are artificial. Accordingly, it is essential to stay under the radar. Slow steady acquisition of a few links on a regular basis on a wide area seems sensible. Buying a thousand links to be applied once and only once will achieve little. Indeed, a website that is clearly using Black Hat techniques in excess may be penalised and removed from the pages listed by some search engines.