Let’s define the Backpath:
The BACKPATH is derived from BACKlink and PATHfinder.
A backlink is defined as a hypertext link received by a web page, directory, site, or domain from another web page, directory, site, or domain.
A pathfinder is a person who goes ahead and discovers or shows others a path or way; as in, “look what I found here,” or “here’s another take on the same question,” or “more research material“.
In this way, a pathfinder will use backlinks to share topics of interest they have discovered with their readership. Over time, as more and more Pathfinders share their discoveries with their patronage a track-able growing Backpath of relatedness can be realized.
The more generations of relatedness there are from the primary source(s) of authorities to a definitive set of topics the more explosive the resulting output in ordered ranks can be realized.
- Theming: Webmaster World Thread on Theming - WebmasterWorld paynt, & Brett_Tabke (2001)
- Disambiguation: Disambiguation Pages - Wikipedia, Damian Yerrick, March 2002.
- Breadcrumb Trails: Influence of Training and Exposure on the Usage of Breadcrumb Navigation – Spring S. Hull, February 12, 2004 by SURL, Software Usability Research Lab, Witcha State University, Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage – Lida, Hull, & Pilcher, (2003). Maldonado & Resnick (2002), Bowler, Ng, & Schwartz (2001), Lazar and Eisenbrey (2000), Shneiderman (1998), Zajonc (1968), originally coined by Brother Grimm — Grimm’s fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel (1812).
- Silo Architecture: SEO Siloing: How to Build a Website Silo Architecture - Bruce Clay (2010)
By design, creating a more powerful Backpath within your own domain will naturally spawn a variety of streams that reference associated pages in different ways as their source(s). By demonstrating this with forethought, you can experience exponential returns that you wouldn’t normally get even if you invested in developing straight up viral media for your domain (also coined linkbait). This means you can substantially reduce your overall need of external links and especially eliminating the need for inorganic link anchors and thus, by default, avoiding Google’s PENGUIN updates.
Rephrasing that, if the competition is using some form paid links (inorganic or unnatural linking methods) and getting away with it, you can still beat them in results by sticking with organically created links and allowing your internal Backpath to do all the heavy lifting you would normally get from your own unnatural links such as those from a link scheme which obviously violates Google’s TOS.
One of the greatest issue faced by amateur or Do-It-Yourself SEOs (DIY SEO) is that they generally haven’t done all that much homework on determining what are indeed SEO best practices and what are not and therefore often fall victim to the risks of using webspam. This resource is thereby a SEO history lesson, of sorts, to help remove some of the mystic out of the current SEO game.
Ted Nelson, an American pioneer of information technology, philosopher and sociologist, coined the terms “hypertext” in 1963 while publishing it in 1965. Sometime during that period, he also coined its first pseudonym namely “Hyperlink,” and subsequently over time that was shortened to just “link”.
“Backlink” may well have been the logical next step in this evolutionary tree, but it happened more like a maple key caught by the wind and spiraling to the ground fall from its parental tree and seeding its own independent evolutionary start. Backlinks are indirectly attributed to the interpretations of Google Inc., founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Google’s inspirations through Page & Brin suggested a better system for analyzing and displaying web documents in some meaningful context from the most important to the least important. It was found by better understanding the relationships between hyperlinked documents such relationships, using their system, influenced the sourced documents. e.g. “I created this page of information but my creation is supported by this creation over here,” and the hyperlink affords patrons of the website a quick referencing to what is over there, and thereby equally draws credibility through a democratic voting system of sorts.
Backlink was never coined separately but its place in history came with Google’s version of a scoring system. Page and Brin coined that system as “BackRub” as it checked the citations each page received which can be likened to a “that-a-boy” one might get for doing a great job, to estimate the importance of a page.
From then until now (1998 – 2013) we (us “not in the Google know”) have focused our attention on only a small portion of backlinks. The ones commonly referred to as “external links,” as being the genuine measure of important since the theory of BackRub generally suggested (by omission) that links within your own domain are not all that advantageous.
As you may find, it is indeed flawed reasoning.
Backpath – Fixing Your Internal Navigation First
Place yourself into this mindset…
“Backlinks are purely for the patrons of the domain the backlink resides on.”
By only providing this user-oriented vantagepoint, you are guaranteed that your link profile is 100% naturally occurring.
In a sense, the Backpath relies heavy on what are more commonly known as breadcrumb trails. These are essentially a related contextual message to the user in the form of a navigation aid provided within an interface design leading to or from a source file. Breadcrumb trails are precisely what they sound like, a means to remember where you are as related to where you have been and ultimately where you are going.
For example, a parent page of topic leads to the next page in the hierarchy of a subject to a child page and then on to a grandchild page and so forth. The same transition occurs up a hierarchy of the subject matter from grandchild page to child page back to the parent where the “breadcrumbs,” in the trail are the link anchors that also define how broad (or specific) the adjacent pages of subject is to the current landing page. This allows patrons to keep track of their locations within the website. The term originated comes from the trail of breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel by Brothers Grimm in the popular fairytale.
If the site owner’s parent page applies to the related topic then all other ‘linked to’ sources denote a “broader — or likely less comprehensive phrase or keyword towards parent sources. The more definitive “exact” or “precise” the longtail terms (keyword phrases) are the more usability value there is for patrons of the domain and by default, more targeted terms become that not only do you avoid violating Google’s Guidelines but you actually enhance a pages ranking abilities.
The reverse of this is far easier to comprehend the question, “why is usability for the patron often at odds with ranking ability?”
A hierarchical link to the top-level page on most websites is commonly anchored as Home. The term HOME relates only to a hierarchical position within a website. It does not project any relatedness whether broadly or precisely to the subject matter found on that specific page. Thus in the purest sense of usability it can be said the user often loses context value while acquiring gaining only positional value thus certain limitations or disadvantages are introduced. e.g. Subway.com you would think it is about all the mass transit systems in the world where you would find a world map (as a hypothetical example) on the homepage and breadcrumbs by country, state or province, and cities. You wouldn’t normally (from a usability vantagepoint) consider the main or root page to be about fast food, restaurant franchise opportunities and surely not about anything to do with a home, in general.
We have to have a certain amount of predetermined knowledge about the domain’s owner to gather an understanding about what might be on the top hierarchical page.
This first example demonstrates the influential power of the Backpath in real-time. While Google’s results are always in a state of flux, pinning precise ranking positions is a challenge. This example clearly shows how much power INTERNAL site architecture has as noted previously with breadcrumb trails. Navigation links, and the use of naming conventions (collectively noting historical citations as associated references involving — theming, breadcrumbs, and/or silo architecture) are with respect to the link anchor text, and how it can empower a domain to acquire superior results without needing to violate search engine terms of services.
To support this noted example I used only one previous expired domain name re-directed to this specific details page that sets up the scenario and that domain is palmyralibrary.org. It was an expired domain with a PR5 default page, with about 68 dofollow backlinks pointing to it, most of which are PR3s to PR6s thus creating a solid PR5.
This process also explains why brand name domains appear to be dominating a volume of Google results… they have acquired general purpose link juice and all they need to do is develop a fair internal Backpath to beat small business domains with and without webspam.
The Perfect Backpath
FULL DISCLOSURE DISCLAIMER: To properly example this with all the details – it may seem at face value like webspam. However, this example is merely showing what can be done to perfect a set of Backpaths. There are elegant solutions that can curb the appearance of webspam but we must detail out the basics – first. Webspam implies only using the basics, e.g. adding a keyword phrase to a page is a basic best practice, while repeating that keyword phrase (keyword stuffing) is the same best practice taken to extremes and now it is classified as webspam.
So let’s say you’re an SEO in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. You provide SEO Services and one of those services happens to be Link Development. A basic Backpath for that might look like this:
- SEO > SEO Services > SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens > SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens Florida > Link Development SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens Florida
You are in fact building your website’s architecture on an extremely solid foundation commonly called silo architecture where link breadcrumbs are useful to patrons to see precisely where they are within your websites architecture. However, such a development not only passes link value on the next subordinate page (child or grandchild page), it superimposes that previous value built up on all previous parental pages if the link anchors support (instead of diluting value) relatedness. Thus, the Backpath ties these previously noted concepts (breadcrumbs & silo architecture) together as a single production or process.
A web page will not only retain passed value by all link anchors, it actually mixes all that value together on the current landing page. Any links on that page will equally share that built-up value and pass it on to the next set of linked pages PLUS passed on any new value induced by the newest link anchor text in a continuous path where all link anchors in the Backpath influence all subsequent pages.
Each new page and link(s) superimpose the generated value of the previous pages onto the next page in the path and that effect continues down all paths.
- The Holy Grail SEO term is internally linked to the top-level page of the SEO topical tree for an SEO website.
- SEO Services, in general, is one link generation below SEO. Many practitioners mistaken place all pages link link generation off the default page and thereby do not receive the full impact of the Backpath
- SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens, in general, is one link generation below SEO Services and two link generations below SEO but all the higher hierarchical and more broadly focused term pages receive anchors from all their subordinate pages.
- SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens Florida, in general, is one link generation below SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens, two link generations below SEO Services, and three link generations below SEO, but all the higher hierarchical and more broadly focused term pages receive anchors from all their subordinate pages.
- Link Development SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens Florida, in general, is one link generation below SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens Florida, two link generations below SEO Services Palm Beach Gardens, three link generations below SEO Services, and four link generations from SEO, but all the higher hierarchical and more broadly focused term pages receive anchors from all their subordinate pages.
Now whatever page gets link juice (no matter the external link’s link anchor text) the internal Backpath will have an enormous impact filtering that link juice to be exponentially related to all terms in your Backpath as well as all pages included in each path.
Multiple Backpath Converge
The basic Backpath might be easy enough to understand but it also makes for a compelling case of webspam. That said there is no need to create a single Backpath when you can create multiple Backpaths superimposing their merits as a collective onto the final set of destination pages.
To illustrate, most nationwide or worldwide developments have topical paths and regional paths (you commonly see this in large directories such as dmoz.org) of information and that makes a superb case for splitting the original Backpath so we have two independent Backpaths:
- SEO > SEO Services > Link Development SEO Services
- SEO > SEO Palm Beach Gardens > SEO Palm Beach Gardens Florida
If you wish to visualize this let say, you added two blogs to your SEO domain. One blog would focus on SEO Services and 1 such service feature — link development. The other blog focuses on General scope about Palm Beach Gardens and the state of Florida as they related to SEO discussing things like PPC (Adwords) state or city campaigns, local search, local directories, sources for local citations, etc., all of which cite the city of Palm Beach Gardens and Florida as their examples. Before the regional blog is about Florida, in general so there are many secondary places (cities) to build a regional base. The SEO topical backpath could be expanded into a multitude of Best Practices for SEO while the regional backpath could expand in scope to include additional cities within the state of Florida.
Now you are instinctively creating two completely independent Backpaths that can catapult your commercial pages into top positions without violating a single Google guideline, you are simply doing as they suggest SEOs do (bolded points are implied in Backpath creations):
Reference: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization” or “search engine optimizer.” Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site. Many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners, including:
- Review of your site content or structure
- Content development
- Management of online business development campaigns
- Keyword research
- SEO training
- Expertise in specific markets and geographies
Notice that Google doesn’t believe link development is worthy of being part of the SEO repertoire of services. There is likely a good reason for that. If you are focused on doing something elsewhere (to entertain links without democratic approval of the content being linked to) you are likely not making any better website for your customer you are merely using a loophole to circumvent Google`s quality control guidelines.
Wikipedia Results are Genuine & Due to the Backpath
Many claim without any evidence that Google whitelists Wikipedia. It is true Google uses Wikipedia for alpha & beta testing (as a whitelist group) to see how such pages interact with their upcoming algorithm changes (where testing is done in non-public data centers but that does not mean Wikipedia scores positively in the public archive regardless of any webspam they might introduce should they choice to introduce such webspam).
They do however have a very solid internal strategy known as Disambiguation being deployed.
This technique is used predominately at Wikipedia due to their massive topical involvement where if you happened to query Lincoln and came to Wikipedia did you mean the 16th President, the movie about the 16th President, Lincoln NE or did you mean 100 other common Lincoln topics for that keyword?
In fact, there isn’t single disambiguation page of Lincoln, there are many variations such as the all-encompassing one, one for Lincoln Park(s) and Lincoln School(s) in various cities, Lincoln counties and Lincoln cities to name a few.
Such inter-connectivity provides tremendous advantage for Wikipedia based on the value found in general silo architecture where all similar topics gain support from each other (internal link anchor support). I doubt Wikipedia did this by SEO design but from the default vantagepoint it is a major reason that they rank predominantly for most topics.
As an example, if you search Google for Lincoln Park – did you desire Lincoln Park IL, Lincoln Park Seattle, or the Lincoln Park in the City of Los Angeles? If you actually searched for those independent examples, you will find the exact match Wikipedia page in top results positions.
If you searched for “Lincoln” as a general term, you tend to get the page that happened to acquire the most 3rd party citations (links). However, this is where the internal Backpath (as I called it) turns that “HOT LINCOLN TOPIC” into a goldmine of ranks for all other Lincoln topics by the internal inter-connectivity of all Lincoln oriented pages through each other and through https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln or the various disambiguation pages that are primarily for internal use only.
You don’t need to be an online encyclopedia to benefit from disambiguation pages all you need to do is determine how to deploy this artistic form to your advantage.
Part #2 Coming Next Quarter
- Google > Webmaster Tools > 301 Redirects
- Practices When Moving Your Site – 301 Re-Direct Google Webmaster Central
- URL Redirection Wikipedia
- Matt Cutts on “how do I merge multiple sites into a single site?“
- Matt Cutts on “is there a limit to how many 301 (Permanent) redirects I can do“
- Matt Cutts on “does anchor text carry through 301 redirects?“
- Matt Cutts on “is redirecting a large number of domains suspicious?“
- Matt Cutts on “when I change domains, how long should I leave the redirects in place?“