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I've seen a few pages that have a section with "Popular searches for this page" and then have the search terms in a link pointing back to the same page (e.g. http://theenglishchillicompany.co.uk/the-complete-chilli-pepper-book-a-gardeners-guide-to-choosing-growing-preserving-and-cooking/)

I assume they are doing it for SEO purposes (with more links to the page with the desired search terms). Does this make a difference? It seems strange that a link on page A to page A would be counted! Am I wrong?

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That sounds like spam to me, I suspect Google will be cracking down on that before too long. –  John Conde Jan 11 '11 at 13:16
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The page in question and it was slightly different to what I expected. I was expecting the "popular search terms" to link to an in-site search to show that and similar articles. A possible benefit of that (albeit small) would be to highlight the most important content.

The way it is, they are simply adding more keywords into the page. The self-links add nothing. Google does use the anchor text of links from external pages in determining relevance, but self-links are largely ignored. And repeating multiple links with different anchor text certainly won't have any benefit.

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I think the links themselves wouldn't count for much (as you said a link to the same page you're on would be easy to detect). However, it does seem like an easy way to pick up long tail search results. IE if people are using search terms that wouldn't appear naturally in content like "growing and chilis and home greenhouse" then it's not likely many (or any) competitors have that exact text on their page, in such cases simply being the only one with exact match phrase could be all it takes to rank #1. It seems trivial enough to setup a script that picks keywords with high conversion rates and are longer tail and auto populate that section of the page using the GA API.

It's probably not something Google is particularly fond of, but if done well I can see how users could find this useful (or a variation of it) and it could help pick up high converting traffic for long tail queries.

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