People who have “dubious” friends are often avoided. Think about some people you know whose contacts you are not “too sure” about. There’s something about these people that’s not quite right. You can’t put your finger on it, but the people they associate with don’t seem appropriate.

In the human world, we often make value judgements according to the connections other people make. We decide not be friendly with a particular person simply because of the “company they keep”.

Well, Google is just the same as you and me. It looks at who you associate with – or at least who your web site links to. If Google thinks the online “company you keep” is not appropriate, it tends not to like you and dumps your web site further down the search engine listing.

A few years ago, people were encouraging web site owners to get links – any links. It just seemed that getting a link to your web site was important. But why would anyone running a camera shop web site, for instance, want to be linked from a farmer’s web site? There’s no reason for such a connection other than the fact that it is “a link”. Whoopee…!

Then search engine “experts” told us it wasn’t about links, but about “reciprocal links” or even “three-way links”. All sorts of “systems” for getting links were devised which were supposedly going to help you rise to the top of Google’s rankings.

Like so much of the advice – it was nonsense. Sure, Google is interested in the raw number of links you get, that’s true. But it is only a factor in assessing your web site. More important to Google is the quality of those links – who is linking to you? So, if you run a camera shop you want links from camera manufacturers and so on. What you want are “relevant” links.

In much the same way as we check the “company” that people keep, Google is looking at your web site and checking who is it linked from and are they “right” for your web site. One of the best things you can do to enhance your web site is to attract links from relevant sites (good company for you) rather than just getting links from all your friends and contacts, or anyone who’ll give you a link.

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