Cutts: How Google Ranks Sites with Few Links

Mountain View, California–In a recent Webmasters video, Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at search giant Google, answers how it handles ranking sites with few links. The question, “How does Google determine quality content if there aren’t a lot of links to a post?” comes from Ashish in India.

Cutts’ answer is simple, throwing away current technology and returning to how search engines ranked sites in the early days of the internet, when there were only a few signals available by which to quantify the quality of a site. Cutts states that sites without a lot of inbound links are ranked according to the content on the page, particularly that the text addresses the query, and the page as well as what a site at-large is about, pertaining to that particular topic.

Ranking Site with Few Links

“So, in general, that sort of reverts search engines were before links. You’re pretty much judging based on the text on the page at that point. So Google has a lot of stuff to say the ‘first time we see a word on a page–count it a little bit more–a second time maybe a little more but not a ton more. Then, after a while, ‘we’ve seen this word, maybe this page is about this topic.’”

At that point in Cutts’ answer he states it doesn’t help a site to keep repeating a key phrase and goes on to warn that if it’s interpreted as stuffing, a page would perform poorly. The software engineer explains that the search engine also attempts to quantify the quality of the domain.

Other Ranking Signals for Sites without Many Backlinks

Niche searches for queries which are rare, will help a page in rank because even though the page does not have a large amount of inbound links, there are few sites with content matching those particular searches. In addition to query match and domain qualification, Cutts explains that a site with few backlinks is mostly judged by the quality of content on its pages.