It’s no secret that Google built the popular web. Link popularity is the name of the game and has been for some time. The question is, does Google’s link popularity algorithms reward those with a lot of links already with even more links while those who are struggling to survive get fewer?
A very interesting article written in 2004 about that very subject says “Yes.” But I think there is some reason to suspect that the article inherently correct in its assumptions. Nevertheless, it appears to be true that the search engines do favor big (and older) websites above smaller and newer ones. So is that the same and saying that they favor the link rich to the link poor?
Honestly, I think they are separate issues. I don’t think we can assume that older sites naturally have more inbound links simply because they are older. Nor should we assume that larger sites have more incoming links than smaller ones. It should be noted that the search engines do not really care about the size of your website; what they really care about are the individual pages on your website.
If you have a 100-page website and all of your pages link together then each page on your site will have 99 inbound links. If you have a 5-page website and each page links to all the others then each page has only 4 inbound links. The range of possibilities for more links is greater for the large site than for the small one. That’s just common sense – and it isn’t Google’s fault. That’s just the way it is.
The rise in blogging and social networking have changed the face of search engine optimization and search engine marketing to a large degree. Other things that should be considered now that weren’t considered in 2004 include the discounting of certain types of links by the search engines, penalties for link buying, and certain types of link practices, such as three-way reciprocal linking, that are frowned upon by the search engines. Large sites could fall prey to the negatives just as easily as the smaller sites.
While there is some truth to saying that a website that rises to No. 1 in Google has a greater possibility of attracting new inbound links than a site that doesn’t, it isn’t the only factor that determines how links are encouraged. Social networking could just as well draw as many links as search rankings.
Popularity is a thing that can be measured a number of ways, including traffic. I think there might be some evidence that the search engines do favor highly trafficked websites than websites with little or no traffic. Wouldn’t you?
The key for the search engines is to provide searchers with the right information for their queries. If that means returning the most popular pages because those are the ones deemed to be of the highest value then couldn’t there be some sense in that? This issue really has more to do with who has the right and the authority to decide what is quality. From a search perspective, I don’t think there is anyone more qualified than the search engine where the information is to be found, rich and poor be damned.