Site Wide Links OR An In-Content Link

Credit: recently had the pleasure of tweeting with Bill Slawski about a topic that I had briefly discussed with Brian Chappell at Search Exchange in Charlotte, NC. This post will be expanded in the future, but for now I just want to make sure I’ve got a record of this excellent conversation.

This is a great example of how SEO’s break down the value of different types of links and it shows why the quality consultants in this industry provide value to their clients, in excess of what a designer/developer would typically call “SEO.”

From Twitter on the evening of 5/20/2010:

timstaines: @bill_slawski if U could get a site wide link from a site with ~50 pages or 1 in-content link on 1 page of same site, which would it be?

bill_slawski: @timstaines There are so many other factors that I would want to look at besides whether a link were site wide or in main content of a page

timstaines: @bill_slawski there are many other factors, but consider it a brand new page on the site with 1 link vs. a site wide link on 50 other pages

bill_slawski: @timstaines Which are people more likely to click upon, the sitewide or the single link? That’s the first thing I would look at.

bill_slawski: @timstaines Are there just a few sitewides, and are they in a prominent place?

timstaines: @bill_slawski just a few site wide externals and 25 sitewide internals

bill_slawski: @timstaines Is the page one that has evergreen content, and will be visited on a regular basis? A blog post that will get stale over time?

timstaines: @bill_slawski 5 PR5 pages, 10 PR4 pages, 20 PR3 pages, 10 PR2 pages, 5 PR1 pages

timstaines: @bill_slawski let’s call it a resource page

bill_slawski: @timstaines Good. The page being a resource page makes the analysis more difficult. 🙂

timstaines: @bill_slawski just trying to come up with a scenario that would happen in real life 😉

bill_slawski: @timstaines Is the topic of the page fairly relevant to the anchor text in the link. How relevant is the anchor text to the other pages?

timstaines: @bill_slawski page created on the same subject as the link

bill_slawski: @timstaines Would the page likely be considered an authority page, as in a HITS version of Hubs and Authorities?

timstaines: @bill_slawski it could eventually, but right now it’s a brand new page

bill_slawski: @timstaines That would make the single page more attractive, and the decision harder, especially considering the PR of the other pages.

bill_slawski: @timstaines Right, and you’re presenting a scenerio that would make the decision a difficult one.

bill_slawski: @timstaines A sitewide would mean that one of the links would be on the homepage of the domain, which probably has some decent value, too.

timstaines: @bill_slawski you can answer it at many points in time if you like . . . now and PR1 PR2 PR3 PR4 PR5 – heh

bill_slawski: @timstaines At this point, I would question how prominently that sidewide would be on the page. Sidebar? Footer? Banner? Commercial text?

timstaines: @bill_slawski part of content in the footer

timstaines: @bill_slawski I think the one page link would have to be on a PR5 page to make it close

bill_slawski: @timstaines If the internal link structure of the site was reasonable, the page would likely gain some PR fairly soon.

timstaines: @bill_slawski agreed

bill_slawski: @timstaines How likely would it be that people would scroll to see that footer?

timstaines: @bill_slawski likely that they would see it, but it’s probably not a highly clicked element

bill_slawski: @timstaines if the sitewide stands out in some way, and would stand a chance of getting clicked upon, I would be more likely to consider it.

timstaines: @bill_slawski right, I’m still trying to build up the one pager a bit

bill_slawski: @timstaines I might be a little more tempted to chose the page, but it might not hurt to have variety in the backlinks to your pages

timstaines: @bill_slawski I would take the site wide link still, but if I had two or three pages with backlinks in the body it’s a different story

bill_slawski: @timstaines It’s tempting to create a scorecard for the reasonable surfer features for a decision on link placement like this.

bill_slawski: @timstaines But trying to gauge which features to use, and how might weight to give each would be hard.

timstaines: @bill_slawski yeah, create your own little algo in your head

timstaines: @bill_slawski right, I still believe that the most important factor is that its on every page vs. 1 page

bill_slawski: @timstaines Is the page being linked to on the same domain, or a different one?

timstaines: @bill_slawski different domain, for a different organization on a similar topic

timstaines: @bill_slawski dang, we’ve got half a blog post here already

bill_slawski: @timstaines Pretty close to one. 🙂

bill_slawski: @timstaines If the link weight being passed from the sitewide footer links was 1/10 of the main content link, & the new page became a PR 4?

bill_slawski: @timstaines I think that would be a positive for both, especially if the anchor text was related to the topics of all the pages.

bill_slawski: @timstaines A feature not included in the reasonable surfer patent: do sitewide links diminish in value because they are sitewide?

timstaines: @bill_slawski let’s say the linking site in generally related to the anchor text and the target page

bill_slawski: @timstaines The single page link might be more of a gamble, considering its newness, but I think it could be pretty close.

timstaines: @bill_slawski then you have to ask if it because they are sitewide, or just that they are common

timstaines: @bill_slawski i.e. does a link that shows up on 10 pages of a site have as much or more value than a sitewide

bill_slawski: @timstaines Good point. Possible that relevant sitewide (anchor text, topical cluster) w/o commercial text > irrelevant w/commercial text

timstaines: @bill_slawski I’m sure this will be an ongoing discussion – but I’m headed to bed, thanks for the convo

bill_slawski: @timstaines Thank you, Tim. definitely worth considering more…

brianchappell: @bill_slawski @timstaines great convo guys. Just had fun reading through that.


It’s kinda funny that today’s SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday covers a similar topic. I honestly hadn’t seen that post until I Googled “value of site wide links” for this post. They are already ranking at the top of the second page, by the way.

Again, I’ll be building this post out further in the future. Any suggestions for what should be added?

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Tim Staines is a marketing strategist with a background in search engine optimization and business. Connect with him on twitter @Staines

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