Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002


The recent hooha about comment spam has got me thinking about the importance of link text and Google rankings. Comment spam came around because blogs often have high Google rankings, due to their generally simplistic designs that can be easily understood by a robot, and good linking – almost all blogs have blogrolls, and each blogroll gives the blogs on it a bit of an increase in ranking. Consequently, big blogs get high ranking – whether you like it or not, that’s the situation.

Comment spammers have taken note of this, so by posting their links in the comments, they hope to get a share of the high ranks that those blogs have attained. But just posting a link isn’t enough – it’s the link text that makes a difference.
Take this post by Daisy. Now, the link text I’ve given there isn’t very useful – Google has over 3 million results for “this post”, many of which are public mailing list archives or more popular blogs like Dive Into Mark and Where Is Raed? . However, if I were to link to Daisy’s post with something likeSarah Beeny’s breasts, then that would have a much more profound effect. Not that it needs it – it’s already the second result for “sarah beeny” after a page on
Why am I posting this? Because I’m now the number 1 ‘neil turner’ on Google (and #2 too), and I have a feeling it’s all to do with link text. There are now a considerable number of blogs that use my BlueFade template, and, as part of the Creative Commons Attribution License that I released it under, any blog which uses it should include a link back to my site as credit. The one that is included points to my templates page with the text ‘Neil Turner’, and when you have a large number of sites linking back in this way, it trips something in Google’s algorithm that makes it pay attention.
To prove it, I’m going to steal a link from a somewhat general post from Mark – look at the results for “click here” for example. I touched on this with ‘VeriAnnoyed’ back in May last year, when there was an idea that if lots of people linked to this VeriSign complaint, Google might consider ranking it higher than the real homepage. It didn’t work, although searching for ‘VeriSign’ on Google does yield sites like VeriSign Sucks and an ODP category that accuses it of being ‘allegedly’ unethical.
Link text is a powerful thing when you’re dealing with Google, as any SEO will tell you. Be careful how you link.
By the way, in case you weren’t aware, Google has a new feature that has spawned from the rather useful Google Glossary. You can now type ‘define:’ before a search term, and instead of searching for it, Google will give you a series of definitions from various glossaries around the internet. It’s not as geeky as the calculator but potentially useful, although unlike the normal search system it doesn’t correct your spelling – while I’m generally not a bad speller, some long words trip me up. But then, why use a long word when a diminuitive one will do? 😉

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