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In-Bound Linking Vs. On-Page SEO
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I have had a few questions from clients re: the importance of in-bound linking from their own mini-sites to improve their external link inventory vs. addressing on page SEO issues. I thought that I would add my thoughts on this. To quote one conversation that I had,
"...I know in-bound linking is very important to build your “authority” but does in-bound linking from your own sites do much? Or should we focus on on-page SEO?"

Great question. The answer in short is it depends.... Inbound links or as we like to say improving your external link inventory is an important factor in improving your organic rankings in the search results.Having said that, on-page SEO is also a key factor that will have an impact on your rankings as well. You really need to do both.

The fact is that yes you do need links to be treated as an authority and to rank well by the search engines. However prior to building your external link inventory, you need to ensure that your on-page factors have been addressed. These on page factors include but are not limited to:

  1. Proper/Well Optimized URL Structure
  2. Optimized Page Titles
  3. Optimized Meta Data
  4. Keyword Rich Content and Page Copy
  5. Effective Interlinking of Your Site Pages

Using Mini-Sites to Improve In-Bound Linking

The best thing to keep in mind when building your external link inventory is to do it in a natural manner. This means not trying to artificially inflate your link inventory…. and trust me there are a number of sites that out there that do this. Don’t just build sites for the purpose of linking. Ensure that the sites provide value to the user. In order to obtain real benefit from these sites, these “mini-sites” need to be relevant, and should hopefully have a respectable PageRank or level of authority as they link back to your main site.

Getting a link from a relevant industry site that has a PageRank of 7 or 8 will carry much more weight with the search engines than having 20-30 links from sites that do not have any PageRank or are not relevant to your business.

Having “lots” of mini-sites will not necessarily boost your IBL score, for you see the quality of the link is much more important than the quantity of links that you have to your site. The fact is that too many links to your site can actually have an adverse effect on your Inbound Linking (IBL) Quality score.

If you are considering using a number of mini-sites ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will these sites benefit my target audience/site user?
  • How many of these “mini-sites” will there be?
  • Is the purpose of these mini-sites simply for obtaining links? If the answer is yes then you may be creating them for the wrong reasons. The search engines are looking for you to build your link inventory naturally. If all of a sudden 50 sites that consist of a few pages pop up with similar content and begin linking to your main site, the search engines may treat these links as spam or less authoritative.

You would probably be better served to make sure that the on-page SEO stuff is taken care of first. Then focus on building your link inventory with a couple of mini sites.

With the mini-sites make sure that:

  • The content is unique on each
  • The pages feature unique title and meta data
  • The sites have established link inventories of their own (that way the search engines will treat them as more of an authority).

Also linking from your own sites to your main site will not carry as much weight as links from other relevant sites. So additional things to consider when setting up mini-sites are: having dedicated IP addresses for the sites so that they are not hosted on the same IP address

In terms of where to spend your time and efforts, ideally you should be spending time on both, but the on-page SEO issues should be addressed first. Link building is on-going anyways and can take a long time to accomplish. So long as you are not trying to trick the search engines (or the users for that matter) using a couple of mini-sites to help build your link inventory should be ok.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, March 20, 2008  
  • At 4:30 PM, Blogger Rob said…

    This person would probably be better off focusing on building links to the site in question rather than building "mini-sites", unless there is a greater purpose in mind for the mini sites.

    If it's just link building, then don't worry about them unless they already exist and have value as you've already pointed out.

    There's lots of great software out there to help you manage your own link building efforts, why not check into some of those and focus on link building to a single site.

  • At 7:22 AM, Blogger evolvor said…

    The question that was asked was which was more important, on page or link building? Of course on page should come first, but at the end of the day, links are whats going to matter more. I would have said "create kick ass, optimized content" as the answer to that question, because you're killing 2 birds with one stone.

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Name: Jody
Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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