— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) July 23, 2012
The above tweet and the on going tumult over the new link spam warnings are just latest in Google’s attempts to hone in on how and when to judge or better said differentiate link spam from genuine linking. Even more important is to judge purposeful link spam or schemes to accidental or unintentional ones. This draws us to a deeper question:
What is a Link?
Ah so you think it’s simple, but not so fast. Linking was incorporated early on as a practical method for ranking in connection to information retrieval, which serves as the underlining science behind search engine technology. Information retrieval is built in large part on what is called citation analysis or bibliometrics.
Early search engines including Google, based their ability to rank relevant query results on the ability to judge the “impact factor” on various backlinks. The more relevant backlinks or citations for a given site or page the higher it should be ranked. Not much has changed. Here as an old but great overview.
Google’s recent letters should be understood as warning about classifications. They want sites to think about their backlinks as citations or votes of confidence. The same way citations for an academic paper are seen as giving relevant strength or confidence in a paper’s authority, one’s backlinks should as well.
The more we as SEO’s work to properly promote sites, the more we and our clients will be rewarded.