The Fresh Egg blog
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Links are all-important to the web, and to search engines. Search engines use all sorts of analysis of links not only to find new URLs, but also to determine the relative importance and priority of any URL in the web as a whole.
Search engines learned that how people link to pages can tell them a lot about the page and its relevancy. A page linked to in the navigation menu on every page of a site is almost certainly more important than a page linked only from the site-map or other sub-section.
The text used for a hyperlink, which we call ‘anchor text’, can also help the search engine determine the content topic of the target page. Words in proximity to a link can also help the engine determine relevancy to a lesser extent (essential, because less accessibility-oriented sites have often used ‘click here’ as the anchor text).
Just for some fun, run a search on Google for the words ‘click here’. The highest ranked page for those words is one of the few English-language pages in the world that uses neither word. The pure volume of links from around the web pointing to the URL with the anchor text ‘click here’ have held it as the most relevant page for those two words for the whole decade since Google launched.
The words, as well as the context, prominence, and prevalence of links to a URL will all be used by search engines to help evaluate the relevancy of the page.
Look out for part 13 - Links continued - coming soon....!