A Different Perspective on Linking Out

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As we gear up to the Brighton SEO conference this week I’ve been exchanging messages with a number of other people in field including SEO Chan Dhillon from SEO by Kalexiko; swapping ideas and arranging to meet.

Given the ever changing landscape of search, networking with others is of paramount important.  It enriches you, allows you to bounce ideas off one another and keeps your respective skill sets sharp.  An SEO that doesn’t interact with others in the field quickly become obsolete and ineffectual.

The conversation started innocently enough swapping stories on how we got into the field and quickly progressed.

One of part SEO that causes significant debate between SEO’s is whether linking out affects rankings positively.  In theory linking out should prompt a decrease in rank as it causes a website to lose pagerank.  There is however compelling evidence the contrary is true and linking out to authority / relevant websites in fact boosts a website position within the SERPS.

“low quality sites tend to link to a far greater share of junk, while great sites typically link to other great sites. These webs of trust & value can be algorithmically mined by engines to produce better search results” – https://moz.com/blog/5-reasons-you-should-link-out-to-others-from-your-website

I had been experimenting with structured data and natural language processing API called “Alchemy” to identify entities and sentiment within text (special mention to blindapeseo.com for the introduction) and fumbling around with a couple of wordpress plugins (zemanta / insights) in a blunt trauma effort to semi automate outbound linking.   This was pretty new to Kalexico who in turn suggested I look at a system called Freebase.

Freebase.com is one of the primary sources of data for Google’s knowledge graph.  Somehow I had completely managed to overlook this.   What I didn’t realise is the system is user driven and I could supply information (entities) about my own clients, myself and a variety of other subjects and create relationships between these entities and other entities are already pre-loaded.

So the golden question was what benefit does this have for rankings in organic search.   Turns out quite a bit.  I was aware that Google was moving towards semantic search with its Hummingbird update late last year (September 26th).  Google was already taking its first steps towards voice search in an attempt to provide natural answers to queries from mobile device users.  What neither of us realised the weight potentially afforded to this part of the algorithm.   As I started to dig a little deeper into freebase, I started to encounter the use itemprop=sameAs” on a variety of blogs.

This allows users to link from websites to freebase.com or any authority link both using overt and hidden links to build relationships/trust.

Not only does prompt the knowledge graph to display, it also appears to give organic SEO a significant boost.

What’s even stranger is that the entire system appears to have been overlooked by most in the search industry including myself.

At the time of writing this post I have seen a positive boost on three websites and have several others being added to Freebase.com as business operations/marked up with “sameAs” schema to test the results. I’ll post my findings here in the next 30 days.

About Mark Bryce-Sharron

I founded Sussex SEO in 2006. Besides planning and managing client’s search strategies, I am a self-professed data geek and digital marketing addict. From information architecture to natural language processing and the semantic web, "search" presents an endless exponential learning curve that few careers can match and few like myself embrace at such a granular level.

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