Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

Understanding Your Ranking Position in Google

I am sure you have come across sites maybe even your competitors that simply try and get links from everywhere and anywhere without any real thought. It is a common mistake for many webmasters attempting to optimise their sites, “hey we need to build lots of links, let’s drop comments like a mad man!”.

You see this type of link building regularly and yes it might help a little but it also has a fundamental problem, what about quality? What about relevance? The way I am going to talk about quality today is not going to be the usual generic stuff you hear on every other SEO blog, I am going to tell you what really makes a quality link and how many webmasters spend their time chasing links that just don’t matter.

In order to understand my angle, you first need to understand that every link you build does not automatically give you a little punch as far as rankings are concerned. You may have anchored the link, it may be editorial in nature but all this means zilch if the page you have the link on is not indexed. It doesn’t end there either because when Google ranks your site according to your link profile it has two methods of narrowing down the most relevant sites.

I think now is the time to throw up a few diagrams.

Forget about, on page optimisation, anchor text, page rank and domain metrics for the moment, this stuff is fundamental and without it the other stuff means nothing;

OK the first step Google takes, when assessing your links and where you should rank for a given keyword phrase, is to look at how many pages within its index links to your page, like so:-

relevant links

As you can see links from pages outside the index don’t count, don’t pass any juice and certainly pass no relevance.

However this isn’t the end of it, Google then performs what is known to many as “local rank”. Google is simply checking how many pages that show up for your target keyword link to you. So if a page that links to you does not show up for the keyword you are targeting within the index, the link will not count on a local rank basis, like so:-

link building

Even pages within the main Google index will not count under the local rank rule, this is all about relevancy and how popular your site is within its niche.

So 2 jobs for link builders;

  • Make sure as many links as possible, pointing to your site, are indexed.
  • and

  • Try and get links from pages that are relevant in terms of keywords to your site

Now obviously sites targeting the same keywords are rarely going to give links to the competition, so we have to improvise. Use article marketing, guest posting and blog carnival submissions in an attempt to get links from pages that are targeting the same keyword, this is why when you’re article marketing you should always optimise the title as a minimum. Any articles that then land in Google’s index will no doubt show up somewhere for you target keyword.

Relevant links are far more powerful than non relevant links even if from a lower quality page in terms of PageRank. If you can attract relevant links with the right anchor text you can out rank a site with huge non relevant link popularity.

So the lesson is think about the links you’re creating, think about how helpful they would be to a reader clicking through to your site. A link to your Xbox site is hardly going to be helpful to someone reading about dog training, well you never know but think about it logically, Google is trying to enhance the user experience and the way they do this is through complex word patterns in an attempt to give the user what their looking for, this is why relevant links are what you need.

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Author: Tim (254 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.



Luke September 16, 2009 at 8:09 am

Great article. I run a micro network of real estate websites which bring me a lot of traffic alredy, but you know what they say, “more traffic never killed nobody, on the web that is.
Thanks for the intel.

Looking forward to your future articles.
Stumbled and tweeted(soon).

Tim September 16, 2009 at 9:27 am


You’re right, traffic is the life line of web marketing. Getting relevant links help’s dominate keywords which drives more traffic. Thanks for sharing this article and commenting :)

PotatoChef September 16, 2009 at 9:35 am

In post “editorial in nature” are certainly the best links that you can get from a page that is indexed. There is no doubt about that.

Getting that type of link is a whole other story.

I have been able to get a few people with relevant blogs and posts to link to me from inside a post. But a very few. What is a tad bit easier, and not quite as good, is getting on a relevant blogs blogroll with the proper anchor text.

Writing article on high PR sites that allow a link back to your site is a good way to go. With link building you always have to keep in mind that in the end all of the work pays off.

Tim September 16, 2009 at 9:38 am


Thats right, I think you have to be creative with your link building trying multiple methods to get the right sort of link. You have to keep plugging away until you start to see the results, but how good is it when 3 months down the line you see your site sitting at page one on google? :)

Mike McEvoy September 17, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Tim, Let me see if I have this correct: If the page is not indexed by Google it does me no good and if the page is indexed by Google but not for my main keywords then it will not count for local rank and relevancy?

So then let’s assume I have a technology related site. What I understand you to say is that a Comment link from say a Personal Growth site/page with PR 6 will carry much less weight than a Comment link from a tech site/page with some similar but not exact keywords and a PR 1?

Taking that construct a little farther I would wonder how the use of NoFollow vs. DoFollow on the page/site impacts the effect or value of the link.

Tim September 18, 2009 at 1:52 am

Hi Mike,

Let me just make sure I have explained local rank correctly: It behaves similar to PageRank but only works for sites that are brought up for a particular search result. So a user will search “seo” all relevant sites from the index will be brought up, (this is where all links in the index will count that are pointing to a page) then out of the results that were brought up for “seo” there will be a re ranking or local rank, this looks at all the sites brought up in the results page and re ranks them in the order of the most popular. (very broad but the idea is correct.

OK first set of questions, yes a page has to be indexed in order to count, if your targeting the keyword “technology products” and the page that links to you does not show up in the search results, it will not apply to the local rank shuffle. Hope that makes sense.

It’s hard for me to answer the second part of your question, because a link from a PR6 page will carry trust and link juice, but yes not much relevance. Will a relevant PR1 link be better, thats debatable, if you had a choice between a relevant PR4 and a not so relevant PR6 I would always advise to go with the relevant one. Let me put it this way if you have 1000 links from none relevant sources, your never going to out rank a site for a keyword with 300 relevant links. Hope this is OK. The idea of the post was to show how Google decides relevance, if I knew exactly how much extra credit they gave I would be a rich man :)

The nofollow/dofollow is a good question and has been debated a number of times. We know through Matt Cutts that PageRank does not flow through nofollow links, hence the reason it used on paid links (which is completely acceptable), however will these no follow link pass relevancy?? I’d say no otherwise you would still buy links for relevancy and Google don’t want this. Obviously I can’t prove any of the no follow stuff it is all theory. Even with the local rank, it is a patent got back in 2003 but are they using it?? In my opinion yes as I have seen many sites ranking based on relevancy, however there is no guarantee that they are using the algorithm, transparency is not part of Google’s ethos.

Hope this helps Mike.

Mike McEvoy September 18, 2009 at 9:13 pm


Many thanks for the explanation and details. I’ve been a bit fuzzy on the PageRank/Local Rank differentiation and your answer cleared that up.

In trying to make myself the most efficient in building my sites I continue to search for the Grand Unification Theory of SEO so that I don’t waste time on things that will only have a minimum return on my time investment or no return at all. The age old battle of trying to avoid the time sinks.

There seem to be many different strategies and tactics. Plus trying to decipher what the Great Google really does behind the curtain. In the end I guess that’s what make SEO guys like you Rockstars ;-) Thanks again for your insights.

Tim September 19, 2009 at 4:31 am


I really am flattered by your comments and am glad you’re getting something out of the info here.

The basics of SEO are optimise content using keywords searchers are using and get as many ‘natural’ backlinks as possible. My job is to find ways to do this ethically and effectively, if something doesn’t work, it doesn’t make it into my ‘toolbox’, I take a very pragmatic view of SEO, I see what the top ranking sites are doing and then try to do it better. Anything I learn in the process will be in this blog, even though I have been doing this for years I am always learning.

I had a bit of a debate on my hands recently over at SEO scoop where it was argued SEO’s don’t really give anything away in their blogs in fear of losing a competitive advantage. I don’t buy into that everything I do or experiment with is documented here, I don’t hold anything back.

John Chen September 23, 2009 at 7:41 am

Hi Tim,

Enjoyed the article, met you on SEOMoz a couple of times. but finally decided to click on your link from the post about “4 reason why SEO Blogging sucks”.

Like you I share as much as I can as well on my blogs and to my clients, its one thing to tell a client about SEO, its another for them to try and attempt it themselves. There are a always a few cases where the clients do decide to do this, most of the time we hear back from them because their sites either been penalised by Google, or they are getting no where :)

Cheers mate

Tim September 23, 2009 at 10:02 am

Hi John,

When it comes to SEO I like to be as transparent as possible, I think it helsp the industry to be this way. I share everything I know not to give away a competitive edge but to build trust with my audience, plus I genuinely helping. Clients don’t come to me for SEO because they could never possibly learn it or take it in house, they come to me because they simply don’t have the man hours to take care of it and also because of my track record and experience.

I remember a few of your comments from the Moz and I think were pretty much on the same wave length. We look at what is really making sites rank and then do it better :)

astronomy January 1, 2011 at 4:26 am

Good issues?I would observe that as any person who in reality doesn’t write on blogs much (if truth be told, this can be my first publish), I don’t suppose the time period ‘lurker’ could be very turning into to a non-posting reader. It’s now not your fault the least bit , but in all probability the blogosphere could come up with a better, non-creepy title for the 90% folks that revel in studying the content .

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