Google Seed Pages For SEO Link-Building

google seed pages seo linkbuilding buy backlinks

Something interesting happens when you pull apart Google’s latest patent application for PageRank. If you just want to read the patent application yourself, you can do so here: Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a web-link graph Otherwise, I’ll talk you through it – and what it means for Search Marketing. For those who don’t know, PageRank is a score that Google uses as a way of scoring the quality of websites. Its name doesn’t come from its use in ranking pages, it comes from its creator, Larry Page. In an earlier patent application from 2006, the following excerpt is of note: What is claimed is: 

1. A method for producing a ranking for pages on the web, comprising: receiving a plurality of web pages, wherein the plurality of web pages are inter-linked with page links; receiving n seed pages, each seed page including at least one outgoing link to a respective web page in the plurality of web pages, wherein n is an integer greater than one; assigning, by one or more computers, a respective length to each page link and each outgoing link; identifying, by the one or more computers and from among the n seed pages, a kth-closest seed page to a first web page in the plurality of web pages according to the lengths of the links, wherein k is greater than one and less than n; determining a ranking score for the first web page from a shortest distance from the kth-closest seed page to the first web page; and producing a ranking for the first web page from the ranking score. Google hadn’t publicly discussed ‘Seed Pages’ at this time. It’s just a note in a legal document. However, in their latest patent application (which continues their patent for PageRank, but also builds on it), this excerpt is interesting and builds on that brief mention of ‘Seed Pages’: 

What is claimed is: 1. A method, comprising: obtaining data identifying a set of pages to be ranked, wherein each page in the set of pages is connected to at least one other page in the set of pages by a page link; obtaining data identifying a set of n seed pages that each include at least one outgoing link to a page in the set of pages, wherein n is greater than one; accessing respective lengths assigned to one or more of the page links and one or more of the outgoing links; and for each page in the set of pages: identifying a kth-closest seed page to the page according to the respective lengths, wherein k is greater than one and less than n, determining a shortest distance from the kth-closest seed page to the page; and determining a ranking score for the page based on the determined shortest distance, wherein the ranking score is a measure of a relative quality of the page relative to other pages in the set of pages. If this is all sounding a bit technical, then just focus on this one excerpt from the abstract: One embodiment of the present invention provides a system that produces a ranking for web pages. 

During operation, the system receives a set of pages to be ranked, wherein the set of pages are interconnected with links. The system also receives a set of seed pages which include outgoing links to the set of pages. The system then assigns lengths to the links based on properties of the links and properties of the pages attached to the links. The system next computes shortest distances from the set of seed pages to each page in the set of pages based on the lengths of the links between the pages. Next, the system determines a ranking score for each page in the set of pages based on the computed shortest distances. The system then produces a ranking for the set of pages based on the ranking scores for the set of pages. Roughly what the excerpt is saying is: Google will create an index of web pages 

Those web pages will be connected by links Google will have a set of ‘seed sites’ A ranking score will be applied to each page based on its number of links from ‘seed sites’ This score will also measure the ‘link distance’ from these seed sites. The patent goes on: Generally, it is desirable to use a large number of seed pages to accommodate the different languages and a wide range of fields which are contained in the fast-growing web contents. Unfortunately, this variation of PageRank requires solving the entire system for each seed separately. Hence, as the number of seed pages increases, the complexity of computation increases linearly, thereby limiting the number of seeds that can be practically used. Hence, what is needed is a method and an apparatus for producing a ranking for pages on the web using a large number of diversified seed pages without the problems of the above-described techniques. So in short, there’s a lot of seed pages. So what does this mean for us? 

Seed Sites are Google officially stating that they are placing a higher weighting on links from certain websites than others. It’s no longer about some arbitrary score, it’s about how many links you have from ‘Seed Sites’. But if you stop to think about what these ‘Seed Sites’ might be, you realise that the rules have remained consistent all along. If you’re looking for a site which is high-authority, reputable, difficult to manipulate, difficult to win links from (at scale) and diverse, you’re probably going to be talking about things like major news publications and publishers. The New York Times is difficult to earn a link from, and they have a huge amount of cultural clout and web authority. By comparison, a small independent blog about moths may have less editorial rigour and might be easier to earn a link from – but the SEO impact is going to be far less significant. In short, we need to stop focussing on rubbish, easy-to-create links, and start putting our efforts into earning links from Seed Sites – which means acting like a brand, and presenting public-facing, genuinely useful information which journalists can write about. 

This is a quick case study on how we won 65 links for our client Naturalmat, and increased their organic traffic by 54%. The Client Handmade mattress and bed makers Naturalmat are proud to stamp ‘made by hand in Devon’ on their products. Originating in the marine industry, Founders Mark Tremlett and Peter Tindall both sail and hated the synthetic mattresses found on most yachts. They found that natural fibres make the best mattresses as they are inherently self-ventilating so designed a range for boats and yachts. When Mark’s wife became pregnant, they realised most baby and children's mattresses were made from synthetic material so expanded the range. The Brief The objective for this campaign was to generate PR coverage and links for Naturalmat in order to increase their search engine visibility and to help them compete with the commoditised mattress market online. In comparison to their competitors, Naturalmat’s backlink profile was weak and they needed to improve this to boost organic rankings. Additionally a secondary objective was to help position Naturalmat as sleep experts, which would be complementary to the offline and retail brand positioning. 

The Strategy With the Naturalmat campaign we opted to take a multi-tiered approach to winning coverage and placements. Increasing the overall number of authority links to the site was a key campaign metric, so we focused on using a content-led approach, using both opportunities for image placement, product galleries and promotion around key sales period such as Black Friday, Christmas, New Year and Summer. This agile approach allowed us to tap into journalist requests as well as being tactical with content outreach such as focusing on trending topics such as sleep, productivity and health. As well as taking a creative approach to press opportunities a key part of the strategy was to brand Naturalmat as sleep experts. We utilised the expertise of Christabel Majendie, an expert sleep therapist, who we positioned for expert comment surrounding key sleep-related topics. This approach allowed us to propose and create coverage opportunities that were a good fit for both the brand and the product range and created opportunities to promote and highlight the brands unique selling points. 

The Results 65 links from authority websites 54% uplift in organic visibility To date, more than 60 authority links and pieces of coverage were achieved directly from campaign activity and outreach. This placements included coverage on The Express, The Daily Star, The Sun, Huffington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, The Metro, Netdoctor, Yahoo, The Daily Mail, MSN, Prima, and Readers Digest amongst many others.

Business website owners are constantly receiving conflicting and confusing advice around links, linking and their impact on SEO strategy. “backinks are good”, “links are bad”, “SEO is dead”, “backlinks will get your website penalized”, “you don’t need backlinks to rank well in search engines”, “you can’t rank at all without linkbuilding”. Exploring the truth can sometimes be confusing, it’s often far more nuanced than giving simply generic advice. Sometimes when talking about the direct effect of links to a website two opposing views can both be true depending on the type and quality of a link that we’re talking about. What are links? For clarity, when we talk about links and their importance for SEO we’re talking about links ‘from’ other websites ‘to’ your website. These are sometimes and interchangeably referred to as links, backlinks, external links, a link profile, or hyperlinks. 

Links can be linked text or images, but most often they show up as the blue text that you see which when clicked-on takes the user to another web-page. Why do you need links? Firstly, lets establish the need for links. Google have historically used links to help quantify the overall quality of a page. This is used as part of the core ranking algorithm and became a strong ranking signal because it was a very effective way of determining the quality of a page independently. A simplified explanation that I sometimes use is that everything on the web page – the body text copy, the headings, titles, bullet points etc, this indicates to the search engines what a page is about and the words and phrases that it should rank for. The links that point to that page help to establish how important the page is, and therefore how well it should rank for the words and phrases that it contains. 

This is so effective as the sites linking to your site are hard to manipulate and control, so becomes a very good independent indicator of page quality. There is a very close correlation between a websites link profile and it’s search visibility. Search visibility being defined as the number of words and phrases a website ranks for and how high it ranks for each of these. The amount of search engine traffic a website receives is a direct result of this visibility. The chart above illustrates the number of high-quality links (green bars) and the number of keywords a site is ranking for (red line) for 31 different websites. You can see that the number of keywords a website ranks for is very closely correlated with having high-quality links. What is bad link? Much of the confusion around the effectiveness of backings stems from The Google Penguin update in April 2012. 

This was a wake-up call for brand owners, as not only did lower-quality links cease to be effective at propping-up website rankings, but this algorithm update also coincided with a massive rollout of manual action penalties on many high profile sites. This meant that low-quality link development was now an enormously dangerous as it presented a very real risk of acting as a negative ranking factor. Performed carelessly at scale it could lead to websites simply tumbling out of the search results as manual or algorithmic penalties were applied to sites. Normally when we talk about ‘bad’ links we’re referring to anything performed at scale or automated such as blog spam, forum spam, excessive commercial anchor text, or using networks of blogs or links from low quality web directories. Additionally, aggressively using less scalable tactics, but still  specifically designed to artificially inflate your website rankings, such as guest posting, link exchange schemes or paid links are equally likely to raise red flags and may potentially lead to ranking penalties. 

This wave of penalties has left brand owners fearful of how they can safely improve their website rankings while minimising risk, but also maximising the value of their digital marketing activities. Hallmarks of a good link So now that we have established that having a good link profile is vital to the success of a website, but we also know that bad links can damage our search visibility. But where does that leave us, how should we be going about link development in a manner that is both safe and effective? Defensible - Won not paid Any link to your site should be defensible – there should be a reason for it being there other than for manipulating search engines. Great examples of legitimate defensible links include the results of legitimate PR and marketing communications activity, survey results, sharing your industry knowledge and expertise through in-depth articles and thought pieces, staff and management quotes on news articles, product reviews and gift guides. No matter where your link appears on a page, you should ask yourself: “Was this link editorially placed?”. As you might expect, Google puts MUCH more weight on editorially-placed links. “…creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines.” 

Quality Does my link provide value to the reader? The best quality links are the by-product of creativity and sharing knowledge and insights with readers. Great websites, top-tier media sites like newspapers, magazines, authority bloggers and key niche industry sites don’t link out without reason. You must earn those. Campaigns targeting these kind of quality links are far more closely aligned to a traditional PR campaign than something people would think of as being traditional SEO. Editorial Originally Google treated all links on a web page as delivering the same value. Google and other search engines have progressed since then and are now far more advanced when it comes to attributing link value. Bill Slawski explains in detail how Google may be using a Reasonable Surfer Model in their current algorithm. To simplify this means that hiding links away on a page, such as in the site footer, page margins or within tabbed content is going to significantly devalue the ranking impact of a link. Conversely a contextual link right at the top of an editorial page is more likely to be clicked, and therefore more likely to pass more authority. Relevance Relevance is a qualitative measure of just how topically connected your website is to the page that is linking to you . For example it is much more valuable for a newspaper article on current wedding trends to be linking to a wedding venue website than a wedding blogger to be linking to an automotive site. 

I make the point that this is very much a qualitative measure however, there can be many valid relationships between different topics, so just because two websites are not immediately topically relevant, does not mean that a link between the two would not be valuable. Authoritative Is the page linking to you authoritative? Authoritative links are likely to have the biggest impact on your site rankings. From years of testing, we have found that the authority of the page linking to you has more of an impact on rankings than than any other factor. Google used to measure authority through its Pagerank metric. However, this is no longer publicly available. An effective substitute for Pagerank can be found at Majestic. 

We use their Trustflow metric as a reliable indication of how trusted and authoritative a linking page may be. Some real world examples of types of high-quality and effective editorial links for inspiration. News Gift guides & product roundups Expert comment Expert guides Product roundups Images Sales/Promos Survey results The more great quality contextually relevant links you have pointing to your website, the better and more authoritative Google are going to perceive your web pages to be. It is this quantitative measure of trust and authority that is going to translate directly into search engine visibility, rankings traffic, and ultimately impact on your bottom lines – your sales. 

Spend your time reaching out to authority and industry sites, and mainstream journalists, form relationships with them, find out how you can help them with what they’re working on, come to them and pitch your story ideas. Ultimately though remember it’s about quality rather than quantity. Having 5-10 links from top tear media sites is going to be far more effective than having 100’s of low quality backlinks. Be consistent and patient, and over time you will be able to see defined improvements to your overall visibility, traffic and revenue.