Ghost Links and How They Help SEO

At Rouge we are very aware that to be successful a website needs visitors and that means some form of marketing has to take place.

There are of course many ways of getting traffic to a site, this including TV and Radio ads, email shots, adverts in newspapers and magazines, Google Adwords, banner adverts, the list goes on.

BUT, the most efficient way of getting consistent traffic is without doubt gained by capturing the searches that people make in Google (other search engines are available).

The process here is called SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation, and is all about making a site appealing to Google. This is done is a wide variety if ways, this including making sure that a site is mobile friendly (the latter being just one of the ways Rouge ensure that their designs meet the needs of its customers) and that it is easy for the Search Engines to crawl.

There is a lot more to SEO though, one of the most important areas having nothing to do with the words on the page at all, it being all about the links to a site.

To explain, Links are used by Google to decide if a site should be included in its listings (for a given phrase), sites that have more (good) links being thought of more highly and are therefore more likely to get a coveted first page rank.

But as you can imagine, links are often deleted after they have been created for one reason or another, and it was thought that once they were gone, so too the power that they gave also went.

Not so it seems, at least for a good many months. We found the article very interesting and thus wanted to share it with you.

Remember that the Rouge team are always ready to help with a web project and that also we don’t just build them, we can also help with marketing your site too.

For the full article on SEO and Ghost Links please click the link.

The idea is that Google will continue to track links and consider the value of those (positive or negative) even after the links are removed.

If this is the case, does a website that increased in rank after a link was added continue to rank after the link has been taken away?

Well let’s see.

This particular experiment was performed by the team at Moz and was amongst a series which set out to test the effect of rich anchor text links (see number SEO experiment number 8) on search rankings.

But, as so often holds true in science, the experiments brought about some entirely unexpected findings.

The Link Echo Effect

There were 2 websites in this experiment; Website A and Website B.

Before the test, this is how they ranked for the same (not very competitive keyword):
•    Website A – position 31
•    Website B – position 11

During the test, links were added to 22 pages on various websites pointing to both Website A and Website B.

Both websites, which received 22 links each, subsequently shot up the rankings:

•    Website A moved from position 31 up to position 1 (an increase of +30 positions)
•    Website B moved from position 11 up to position 5 (and increase of +6 positions)

In short, both websites increased in ranking considerably when links were added.

But what happened when those same links were removed?

Answer. Very little at all.
Website A stayed in number 1 position.
Website B dropped down slightly to position 6 (a small drop of only 1 position)

This experiment validates the hypothesis.

It does appear that some value from links (perhaps a lot) do remain, even after the links are removed.
Could this experiment have been an isolated case?

Not according to Rand Fishkin:

“This effect of these link tests, remaining in place long after the link had been removed, happened in every single link test we ran, of which I counted eight where I feel highly confident that there were no confounding variables, feeling really good that we followed a process kind of just like this. The links pointed, the ranking rose. The links disappeared, the ranking stayed high.”

But, here’s what is so remarkable…
These higher rankings were not short lived.
They remained for many months after the links were removed.

At the time of this video the results had remained true for 4.5 months.
Furthermore…

“Not in one single test when the links were removed did rankings drop back to their original position,” says Rand Fiskin.

There are several lessons you can learn from this, but I’ll leave it at these two:

(1) Quality links are worth their weight in gold. Like a solid investment, backlinks will continue to give you a good return. The ‘echo’ of a vote once cast (as proven by this test) will provide benefit even when removed.

(2) The value of links DO remain for sometime. So, before you get tempted into acquiring illegitimate links, consider if you’re ready to have that remain a footprint for months (or even years) ahead.

In short, spend your time focussed on building natural organic links.

Links can either work for you or against you. So, ensure it’s the former.