Are search engine rankings based on the quality or quantity of links?
Google’s Matt Cutts recently rebuked a Forrester Research report that cited a Kmart effort to entice its customers to blog about their Kmart experience with the reward of Kmart gift cards. The move, Google claimed, ignored its policy requiring “nofollow” tags for solicited posts. So called “sponsored conversation” efforts that ignore the policy, in Google’s eyes, artificially inflate a site’s ranking in Google’s PageRank algorithm which is designed to ignore “nofollow” tags.
The idea of sponsored conversations, and Google’s reaction to the practice, asks an interesting question for every Internet Marketing Company: “Is it the quality or quantity of links that has more value in a search engine ranking?”
Google’s policy and possible consequences for offenders suggests that the answer is simple: more links equals higher ranking. Simply pepper the web with links to your site to boost your site’s page ranking and thus render companies peddling SEO obsolete. However, here’s how Google describes PageRank:
“PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, 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’.”
According to Google, it is not only the number of links, but also where those links are that determine PageRank. Also, in a recent YouTube video addressing a supposed “brand pushing” change in Google’s search results, Matt Cutts says Google search results are based on “trust, authority, reputation, PageRank and high quality.” These factors limit the SEO reward of littering the web with links.
All in all:
So, are search engine rankings based on the quality or quantity of links? The answer seems to be both. A large quantity of high quality links will boost your site’s search engine ranking and be an asset to your site’s attempt at SEO and increased search-generated traffic.