The quality and number of Web sites that link to yours can influence its standing with the search engines.

Why? Because they use link analysis to determine which sites get top ranking in their indexes. So how do you get your site plugged in? Here's what you need to know.

Search engines look not just at your site but at other sites that link to yours. The search engines count those linked sites toward your site's ranking.

All other factors aside, if one site has 10 sites linking to it and another has 500, the one with 500 does better in search engine rankings. But that's not all.

Method to the Madness

For instance, according to its methodology explanation, Google "interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves 'important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages 'important.'"

This means sites that link to yours should be relevant and not in any way off-color. An adult site linking to a children's book site is considered inappropriate and harms both parties — mostly the adult site.

Two main link analysis factors affect your site's ranking: the authority factor and the hub factor. High-quality, topic-related sites that link to your site positively influence its authority factor, and high-quality, topic-related sites that your site links to positively influence its hub factor. Poor-quality sites with unrelated content have a negative effect on both factors.

Search a Search Engine

You can do a reverse link lookup at a search engine to find out which sites link to yours.

Go to AltaVista or Google and perform a search. Type "link:" and then your site URL. For Inktomi-powered sites, such as AOL Search, iWon and MSN Search, type "linkdomain:" before your site's domain name. There may be some menu options available as well.

Spammers, folks who try to trick search engines, try to link to every known important site to manipulate their site's hub factor.

If you find adult or other inappropriate, unrelated sites linking to yours, ask them to remove their links. If they don't, inform the search engines about the problem.

If you don't get a timely response from the search engine, try not to get upset. An inappropriate site linking to yours does far more harm to the other site than it does to yours — providing you don't link back. Doing so builds a reciprocal link.


Good reciprocal links can make your site important in the eyes of the search engines. Reciprocal links are valued more highly than one-way links. If your site scores a +1 in the hub factor for linking to a popular site, it would score a +1 authority factor for having the site link back to it. That would total +2 — for both sites.

I recommend you try to get reciprocal links with the top 10 industry-related sites and topic-specific directories for your business.

Inktomi's link analysis program policy is that sites that link to its relevant topic category page on Yahoo! receive improved hub factor rankings because of Yahoo!'s popularity. A reciprocal link with Yahoo! is even more beneficial.Get your site listed with Yahoo!; it is easier today than before with the Business Express option.

Yahoo! and other top directories and industry sites reside in the "strongly connected core" of the Web, as explained by the AltaVista, Compaq IBM study.

Enlist in the Core

To establish your site somewhere on the fringes of this core, get a listing in Yahoo!, Open Directory Project ,, LookSmart, and as many more top directories as you can. Then link to them from your site, and you are well on your way to improving things.

Link your Web site to the major directories and industry-related sites, and get it indexed with them in return. Take advantage of the tradition of reciprocal link strategies that was at the heart of the earliest Web marketing strategies. Remember those days?

Reciprocal linking still works today, but I would concentrate only on the important sites.

April 15, 2002

Detlev Johnson is vice president of technology at Position Technologies, an Inktomi partner and maker of advanced search engine optimization (SEO) tools for webmasters and major online agencies.

Acknowledged as one of the top five search engine optimization experts in the world, he speaks and moderates search engine discussions at leading Internet conferences worldwide, most recently in Dallas, London, Boston, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Berlin, Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden, and Sydney, Australia.

He moderates the popular I-Search Digest, a vital SEO resource covering every aspect of Internet search engines and the webmaster tactics that accommodate them. He writes for leading Internet publishers and travels the world consulting with companies on SEO.

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Search Engine Guide > Detlev Johnson > Link Analysis Can Help (Or Harm) Your Site