BrightHaus Digital Marketing Agency

20 Link Attributes Based on Google’s Reasonable Surfer Model

June 18, 2013

In my last post, I referenced Google’s Reasonable Surfer Model when discussing website submissions. For those of you that are not aware of Google’s link patent based on the reasonable surfer model you should look into it. The patent can be found herehere. In short, not all links are created equal, even if they are all on the same website or web page. Some links are worth more or less due to their location on the page, background, font color etc..

The term ‘Reasonable Surfer’ comes from the patent that reads;

The rank of a document may be interpreted as the probability that a reasonable surfer will access the document after following a number of forward links.

and here;

Systems and methods consistent with the principles of the invention may provide a reasonable surfer model that indicates that when a surfer accesses a document with a set of links, the surfer will follow some of the links with higher probability than others. This reasonable surfer model reflects the fact that not all of the links associated with a document are equally likely to be followed. Examples of unlikely followed links may include “Terms of Service” links, banner advertisements, and links unrelated to the document.

– U.S. Patent: 7716225

Below is a list of 20 link attributes that could affect the value of your backlinks (based on Google’s idea of a reasonable surfer):

  1. Anchor Text Font Size – The font size of the link on the page compared to the web font standard and other words on the same page.
  2. Link Position – If link is in a list, within content, a frame, etc.
  3. Block Level Location – The <div> tags the link is within; the footer, sidebar, header, navigation, etc.
  4. Location on Page – Similar to Block Level Location but not the same. This is based on location of page regardless of what tags it falls in (top, bottom, right, left, middle)
  5. Total Words in Anchor Text – If the anchor text is one word or a whole paragraph.
  6. Anchor Text – This is a given with all the buzz in the industry. But what the link actually says plays a role in its value and likelihood of it getting clicked.
  7. Link Type – Is the link in plain text, and image, etc.
  8. Hyperlink Type – Is it a nofollow link, redirect, etc. I’m not sure how this will affect a surfer clicking the link. But it made the list. (Maybe some of us hover over links or have nofollow tools to help us decide if we should click the link)
  9. Image Link Attributes – If it’s an image, is the image large or small? What is the aspect ration and alignment, or the name of image file?
  10. Context Before & After Link – The context of the few word before and after the link.
  11. Topical Cluster – Anchor text association with content of page. Similar to Context Before & After Link. But more about content of paragraphs of whole page.
  12. External/Internal Link – Does the link point to the same domain or to another domain?
  13. Hyperlink URL/Webpage URL – Is the URL of the link similar to the URL of the page the link is on?
  14. Number of Other Links – How many other links are getting links from the same page? This is a classic OBL factor based on PageRank patent that many SEO’s are keen to.
  15. Font Attributes – Color, Bold, Italicized, underline, etc
  16. Anchor Text/Heading – Anchor text of link matches heading (H1, H2, H3, etc) its under.
  17. Anchor Text/Domain – Is the anchor text of the domain relevant to the domain name and domain theme.
  18. Click Through Rate – Does the link get clicked on? Is it somewhere within the document users can find and click it?
  19. URL Link – The length of the source document URL and target document URL
  20. Query Relationship – Anchor text of link similar to searcher’s query that led them to location of link.

Technically, there are at least 20 more link attributes and each attribute can be linked with another, making a total of well over 400 link attributes. For example, Number of Other Links and Link Location could be a factor in itself.

The way that these link attributes affect rankings changes over time. These attributes may be timeless, however the way that Google and other search engines view them and use them to rank sites can change frequently and drastically. A good rule of thumb when creating link attributes is to think naturally instead of thinking SEO. Your link building efforts and the value of your links will last much longer.

Always keep in mind, the most important and original reason for a link is for someone to click on it!


2 Comments

  • Phil Simmons says:

    Awesome article. Would be cool to know what is preferred for some of the attributes. For example, if length is a factor, what is better….long/short, etc.

    • JameSEO says:

      Hi Phil,
      I purposely didn’t tell which were better because that can change next month. But when it comes to length, long or short doesn’t matter. As long as there’s a variety. I think a combo of 1 word links and 1/2 a sentence links will be ideal. But the best is to look at the competition; to average their anchor text links, and match it. But then there are the obvious, bigger and darker fonts, or links on pages with very little links, or links in content instead of footer are better. But I agree, it would be nice to have a peek at the algo and know the specifics.

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