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The importance of Linking


									SEO – Link Building Series: The importance
of Linking
In the first chapter of this series we saw how robot.txt and sitemap.xml play big roles in
exposing what all can be crawled on a site. The Search Engine (SE) bot may have reached your
site during its frequent prawl or a visit via an inbound link (could be social media, your friends’
blogroll, directories etc) to your site but the important point here is that, linking your site
from elsewhere improves its visibility – in the eyes of both humans and search engine bots.

                                             Why linking is important?

                                             Once the SE bots reach your site or a particular page
                                             it would relish the opportunity of crawling pages with
                                             similar or relevant content linked from the current
                                             page. Linking plays an important role in helping the
                                             bots with this process of crawl-and-proceed within
                                             your site as well as to other sites.

A lot of us may have heard that link building is the key to obtain high page ranks and hence
improved search visibility of our contents and so on. Unfortunately many of us were taught
and told theories and stories about back linking alone (Other sites linking to you) and hence
to build links always meant link exchanges and commenting like crazy.

In my opinion, effective linking involves the following:

      Internal organizing of your own site
      Visible entry points to the contents
      Relevant links – forward, internal and backward

Internal organizing in this context is all about how you use your page level meta tags and how
you link between your pages – index files, archives, tagged categories etc. Further, the
nofollow flags should be used when required to avoid pages that are duplicate in nature to be
indexed. The above mentioned aspects take care of guiding the bots the right way throughout
their crawling process. The other aspect of internal organizing is the proper usage of HTML tags,
categories, tags etc that I have talked about in the past.

ROBOTS meta tag or page level index control

Once the SE bot reaches on a page on your site, it checks if the links from that page is further
‘crawlable’. The page level setting of interest here is the ROBOTS meta tag in your page
header. Depending on the value of this meta tag, the SE bot decides whether to further crawl the
links originating from that page.
The following is the format of the ROBOTS meta tag:
< meta name="robots" content="index,follow" />

A content value of index,follow instructs the SE bots to index the current page and also to
further crawl links from that page. A value of noindex would mean that the SE bots crawling job
almost ends at this page for the current crawling chain. A setting of index,nofollow may not
make sense at the moment but it has seems to have further implications that we shall discuss
later, perhaps via comments here.

Link level control

While the page level index,follow tells the SE bots to follow all outbound links from a page, this
can be overridden at each link level using the REL property or the anchor tag. The REL
property of nofollow would tell the SE bots not to consider a particular link for further crawling
and indexing.

The role of page and link level control over indexing and following is depicted in the
following picture. The green (curved) path shows the route that an SE bot is allowed to crawl.
The red arrows shows the link that would not follow and website-3 in the picture has only got
noindex pages which is not an ideal setup.

A well connected web site has its main pages’ entry points defined at the sitemap. Further the
internal connectivity of the pages is established via good quality internal linking This is because
the search engines bots love to crawl from page A to B and from B to C and so on as long as
relevant information and relationships can be picked on the fly. Your internal pages are just
points (or nodes) of visit during its long journey that perhaps involves multiples sites. More
internal linking would mean that more indexing opportunity of your own pages as long as
relevant linking is done.

While backlinks bring in indexing opportunity (and priority) to your site or its pages, it’s also
your duty to forward or direct the SE bots to crawl some of the relevant and good quality
neighbourhood. This forward linking, if done via proper tagging/keywords (will talk about them
in the next post) may not be a loss to you based on the credentials of the target pages.

Basically, in order to build a search engine friendly website, linking (inbound, outbound and
within) is very important. In the coming posts we will talk about various link building
mechanisms, keywords’ role in linking etc.

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