Search engines create maps of the Internet called Link Graphs and these maps help search engines to determine if a site is relevant or of low quality and how the site fits into the Internet. Link diagrams are a part of ranking and that is why it is important that you understand what and how your strategies make sense with this method of internet mapping.
What is a graphic link?
Search engines map the internet by link links between each website. These internet maps are called correlation graphs. Link charts reveal various qualities about websites on the Internet.
- Link diagrams show how sites relate to each other.
- Link charts can be used to determine what topics a website is about.
- Link graphs can be used to identify spam websites.
Site links to other sites related to its topic
Software and technology sites link to other sites about software and technology. Culinary related sites tend to link to other cooking related sites.
The catch about cutting out link charts is that they can help tell search engines what a site is a good fit for.
The link graph can also reveal networks of spam sites. While spam sites link to regular unspam sites, regular sites tend not to link to spam sites.
This isolates spam sites in their own corners of the link graph.
I promise that no language can be explained and what seems complicated will be simplified.
Link distance ranking algorithms
There are some algorithms that rank links. It is not known for sure whether or not Google uses these types of algorithms. We just know that they exist and that they do a very good job of detecting spam sites, regular sites, and what sites are about.
Read: Link distance ranking algorithms
The way this works is to create a web map with multiple starting points. Each starting point is called a seed site. Each raw site represents an expert, reliable and trustworthy site on its subject matter.
Sites that the seed site links directly to are also trustworthy and expert. What has been discovered in this type of algorithm is that the farther the link is from the original seed site, the less reliable, experienced and reliable that site is.
For the purposes of clarifying the association relationship:
- If a primary website links to a site, let’s call it a subsite.
- If this subsite links to a site, let’s call it a grandson site (seed website).
- The locations in between, we can name it etcetera.
A link graph based on the initial site might look something like this:
Seed Sites > Children Sites > Grandchildren Sites > Etc. > Your Site > Etc. > Spam Sites
Outgoing and relevance links
Outbound links leaving a website (along with internal links) can affect whether or not a site ranks at all.
When a site links to another site, they are connected within the link graph. All of these connections form groups, sometimes called neighborhoods.
Solar system analogy
Stay with me, because now I’m going to make analogies of how sites link together to form link graphs, starting with how one site connects to itself.
For example, the solar system can be considered a website.
The home page of the site can be thought of as the sun. Earth, Mars, Saturn, etc. may be considered pages similar to pages of this site.
So the entire solar system can be seen as a website, your website.
The location is similar to the solar system
The solar system is located inside the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way consists of suns and other planets.
In this analogy, the Milky Way represents all other sites that are similar to your website that are also on the same topic.
So, if your site is an e-commerce site that sells auto parts, all other auto parts e-commerce sites are interconnected with your auto parts site by links from forums, blogs, product sites, manufacturer sites, review sites, etc.
The Milky Way, in our analogy, represents all websites on the Internet that relate specifically to the e-commerce of auto parts. But it can also be whatever your website is about.
Here’s something to think about:
Links from one site to another create a map of the Internet by topic.
So your website and all other websites in your niche would look like this to Google:
Similar to interconnected sites on the same topic
But… your niche is in the big web
An example auto parts e-commerce store site (Solar System) is within the general theme of all online auto parts e-commerce stores, in this example represented by the Milky Way.
The auto parts e-commerce store theme exists within a larger entity, and is the largest and most general e-commerce theme.
The Milky Way exists as part of a group of other galaxies. This cluster is called Virgo.
Virgin Mass is an analogy for all e-commerce related websites.
All websites are likened to e-commerce
An internet link map reveals subject groups
When search engines map interrelationships between websites, all the different topics tend to form combinations similar to how the sun and planets form galaxies, including some overlap as we’ll see in a moment.
Sites on any topic tend to be linked together by similar sites that tend to link to sites related to those topics.
For example, HR-related sites tend to link to the same set of HR-related software sites and recruitment-related sites.
The Milky Way is located within the Virgo cluster of galaxies. It can be said that Virgo Galaxy Cluster represents all e-commerce related websites.
So in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster example, there are collections of interconnected sites about sports e-commerce, fishing e-commerce, gaming e-commerce, makeup e-commerce, etc. across all the topics covered by e-commerce.
super block group
But the internet is bigger than e-commerce. The Internet includes topics of politics, social media, e-commerce, travel, handbag sales, gaming e-commerce, law, entertainment, news, and everything.
Staying within our analogy of the internet as the universe, a supercluster of galaxy clusters, where the red dots in the image below are clusters of galaxies, this is what Google’s internet might view as a link-based map of the entire internet:
a supercluster of galaxies
All Internet web sites arrange themselves by links in structures arguably similar to galaxies that represent other sites on the same topic.
It can be said that these galaxies exist within clusters of other related topics, such as all e-commerce-related sites, all news-related sites, all travel-related sites, and so on.
The entire Internet can be visualized as a giant collection of clusters.
The illustration above is an analogy of how the Internet self-organizes itself into a giant, hyperlinked map that organizes itself by topic.
Six degrees of site separation
There is this idea that all people are six friends apart. A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend will eventually lead to a connection with just about anyone.
Whether or not this is true is now beside the point. What matters is that something similar happens with links.
The only difference with links is that there is an end point where the further away you are from your starting point there is a greater difference between the starting site where you started following the links and the ending website further away.
What scientific researchers have discovered is that if you start from a starting point that you can call “expert and reliable”, the farther you go from it the more likely the site is to be spam.
Sites linked closer to the starting point tend to be more experienced, reliable, and trustworthy.
This is the idea behind a type of ranking analysis called Link Distance Ranking.
Many scientific researchers (inside and outside of Google) have found that when you create an initial set of sites as starting points, it becomes easier to weed out spam sites as well as more accurate at mapping the Internet according to topic.
Link distance ranking algorithms provide a more granular level of topical classification to the Internet than the natural ranking provided by links.
Graphs reveal legitimate links and spam links
Spam sites exist in their own groups because that is how the internet naturally arranges itself by links, especially when you overlay a link mapping algorithm on a link graph.
In the early 2000s, search engines used statistical analysis to discover patterns of linking that were abnormal. Sites with abnormal linking patterns were called “statistical outliers” and those outliers were spam sites.
Later the researchers published papers on the distance classification algorithm.
Today Google uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to catch spam the moment it detects it when crawled and also at the point Google places sites within the index. The exact processes involved in Google’s spam AI are not known, we only know that AI is used.
Online SEO scammers claim they can trick Google using simple, mind-boggling tricks. But when you understand how the Internet is arranged using a link graph, those child-level strategies are seen for what they are, preposterous and sadly funny.
Graphic links and ranking
There are very few things you can do to control who associates with you. Because of how link graphs work, the job of spam identification is easier.
Knowing how link graphs work and the associated graph mining techniques helps understand why Googlers are so confident in their ability to detect and stop spam links.
While there isn’t much you can do to control the creation of links to your site, there is a lot you can do to control what your site links to.
That’s why, in my opinion, it’s a good idea to be careful when linking to pages that are useful to users in the context of your content.
It can be useful to periodically audit all outgoing links to make sure you are not linking to non-existent pages that have disappeared and returned a 404 response. Another situation to look out for is links to gone sites that are parked domain ads.
For the sake of user experience, it’s also a good idea to check your outgoing links to make absolutely sure you don’t have external links to insecure HTTP web pages.
There is little it can do to control who links to the site. But the sites you link to are completely under your control. Poor external linking practices may send a negative signal that reflects poorly on the site and may contribute to a negative impact on rankings.
Link ranking algorithms
What is the Google Penguin algorithm?
Google fights spam using artificial intelligence