I spend a lot of time working on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for myself and for clients. One of the most common questions I get asked is: "just how much do links actually count?"

Several months ago, I was helping a client with a blog. I totally restructured and redesigned their blog. Their blog had been around a while, but only had 2 posts. I added 2 or 3 more posts. The blog had been in the root of the site, but I changed all that and ended up with the blog under a "blog" subdirectory and a few static pages in the root of the site. I also changed the naming scheme the blog was using for the pages.

The end result was that the search engines had indexed all 5 of the original blog pages, but now they were in a different location with different names. I could have created files that matched those old names with a permanent redirect (301) to the new pages, but it wasn't a critical site. I knew we'd take a small hit for this, but it should not last long.

What's the Value of a Link to SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?<

I started tracking the rankings for a few keywords and the site took a BIG hit (shown as drop "A") in the graph. This occurred because I basically scrambled the site around and didn't tell the search engines what I was doing (no 301s). Only Google seemed to care - the site pretty much ranked #1 or #2 on Yahoo and MSN (Bing) for the keyword phrase I was tracking.

But there was another problem. An ugly little problem that I didn't catch at first. This site is hosted on a Unix box using Apache as the web server (that's the problem!). Remember, the blog was originally in the root of the site and because the blog is a WordPress blog, the rewrite engine was on for the root. But I had moved the blog from the root to a "blog" folder. So when a search engine would crawl the site, trying to locate the old pages with the old names (that no longer existed), they would get a partial, messed up, broken page - Instead of getting a page not found. Because of this, the old pages were not being removed from the search engine index, AND the search engines thought the site was messed up (but only Google seemed to care). I fixed the source of the problem and turn off the rewrite engine for the root, (somewhere near the end of October on the graph).

Here's where we start talking about the value of a high quality link!

Back when I started working on the blog, I added a link to their blog from my blog. My blog has a Google Page Rank of 3, so it has good high quality value.

You can see on the graph, that with more SEO effort on my part, such as submitting articles, etc. the ranking in Google improved for the keyword phrase I was tracking.

But, toward the end of December that client became a non-client. I was cleaning up my blogroll around the end of the year and removed their link. Look at the drop at "B" on the graph - that is the result. That's the ONLY thing that changed! It's hard to tell on the graph, but the drop happened at January 5th 2010.

Again, Google is the only one that cared. The blog is still pegged at #1 on Yahoo and MSN(Bing) for the phrase I'm tracking.

This shows the value, especially on small, fairly new sites with not many inbound links, of good, solid, one-way links from sites with good page rank.

Fred Black

Author's Bio: 

Fred Black is a web site developer, online business operator, systems integrator, father, husband, musician, songwriter, and SEO Expert. Visit his Internet Business to read more...