By Eric Ward with Stephan Spencer
January 2002

Building links to your site improves rankings in certain search engines. Not all of the search engines put as much weight on inbound links, but one that does is Google.  Google has become the 800 pound gorilla in the search engine wars, seemingly overnight.

Did you know you can use Google to identify the sites you need to have links from?  My friend and Web developer Stephan Spencer ( helped put together this overview/tutorial for how to use Google to evaluate link targets for your site.

Not all links are created equal, and Google know this. They know that FFA links are useless, as are link farm links.  They help you clog your own inbox and that’s all. In Google’s case, the sheer number of links doesn’t determine your ranking. Google’s ranking algorithm takes into account each link’s importance along with other factors like the proximity of your search keywords in the documents. In other words, it’s not just about the number of sites that link to a given page, but also the importance of those sites (measured by the links to each of them). Google has given a name to its ranking algorithm for determining a web page’s importance; it’s called PageRank(TM).

In order to accurately view a page’s PageRank, according to Google, you will need to install the Google Toolbar into your Internet Explorer. Download it from You’ll notice after it’s installed that there’s a green “PageRank” meter. That meter is your window into the inside of Google, telling you how important and high-quality Google considers your site to be. And thus how well it’s going to rank in a relevant search. Placing your cursor over the meter will display the numerical rating, an integer value between 1 and 10. Granted the PageRank meter isn’t very precise, but nonetheless it is still immensely illuminating. You can learn more about “PageRank” at

Once the Google toolbar is installed, you can start visiting sites that you want to consider requesting links from to see how good their PageRanks are. Those with high PageRanks are the ones to approach for reciprocal links, because they’ll help you the most with improving your own PageRank.

Don’t forget that your PageRank is only part of the equation. A web page must still have enough content on it for Google to ascertain its theme. According to the CTO of Google, the key to ranking well in Google is two-fold: having content-rich web pages, and attracting/building a web of links to your site from other reputable, relevant sites.

Link wisely,