SEO, Neighbourhood, Website Structure (+ Viagra)

I thought I would elaborate on my thinking about seo “heat” and try to unify how I visualise seo and the art of search engine optimization.

Disclaimer: Not How Google Works, More How I Visualise & Explain SEO To Prevent Madness.

It’s based on observations I’ve made over the last few years. What’s this all got to do with Viagra? You’ll find out.

Hot & Cold PagesVisualizing Neighbourhood “Heat”

All the major search engines rely on links to tell them about sites and pages and to help them determine what a site is about.

Yes, content will always be king (especially in the future) but without links, content can be a mute point.

You can have the best content in the world, but if you don’t have links pointing to it from other sites, it may lose out to better optimized content on ‘hotter’ sites, even if that content is of poorer quality.

To properly visualise this “seo heat” analogy, you’ve got to accept success in search engines for competitive terms is down to links – the number of links, the number of right links, the number of ‘hot’ links.

A link from one page heats up the page it links toLinks are like lasers. A link to another site “heats” that site up a little. A lot of links has the potential to ignite a site it’s so hot, and send a site to the top of the results. Some links get hotter in time, some get colder, some disappear as each site is affected by those linking to it and from it. With this constant shift, every site’s heat signature is in constant flux, and there’s little you can do to it except getting more of the right links to keep your site hotter than the competition for particular terms.

Some burn hot and then go cold, and vice versa.

OK – Now Forget about the links and keep your sanity. That’s been worked out – Google’s counted the links, and filtered the crap.

In the diagram below, you can see in any matrix, there is natural heat, natrually hot and cold sites, because of the interlinking going on between pages. Popular sites are hotter than unpopular sites, generally.

Hot Sites, A Heat Signature and Those Out In The Cold

So Google now has Hot sites in it’s index, and Cold sites. Everywhere in-between, Google has sites that generate some sort of “heat signature”. Hot sites are well known and well linked to and more likely to rank for any term if a page is properly optimized on-page and via the internal navigation structure of the website. Hot sites are relatively trusted to inject content “diectly” into Google’s index, especially if it’s “unique”, probably with a good amount of natural words to keywords. For instance, this page will probably do OK for “SEO Theory” in Google (yup, it was no3, but I changed the title).

In any matrix, there is natural heat

‘Cold’ sites are not well connected (by links) to any neighbourhood or heat signature and virtually invisible in Google, except for very specific terms. ‘Hotsites’ can be seen as authorative and trusted. Cold sites are sites starved of heat, with a linking profile that’s very cold. Hello Google Supplemental Index.

A hot site has the potential to rank in Google serps regardless of site-theme & domain relevance although from my observations these ‘irrelevant’ pages can dissappear in time. If it’s on-site architecture is tuned to promote a certain term leading to an optimized page, it will rank.

Hot Sites, Hot Links & Why Google Hates Paid Links

Google hates paid links because it is an obvious way to generate heat signature a site might not deserve. Identifying one or two hot sites, and purchasing links on hot pages within that site, is enough to ignite an “undeserving” site and entire network and send it to the top of the SERPS.

Google likes it natural, because that way, we do Google’s work for it and identify hot sites by linking to them. One things is for sure though. If Google was confident they could via algorithmic calculation clearly identify paid links, the whole internet marketing industry would not have been talking about the war on paid links.

Inorganic Link Growth Through Paid Links

In this example we see a hot site linking to a cold site – instantly generating a heat source on this new site. This is not natural in Google’s eyes. It’s not democratic in ‘that’ sense. In a buisiness sense in a democratic world, it is natural for people to buy links. People were doing it long before Google, but you can see how Google would like to keep the “status quo” to protect it’s “index”. If the link is relevant Google has nothing to worry about, it’s when it’s not relevant Google starts to get concerned.

Why should a site rank well in a particular neighbourhood because of the heat it accumulated in another neighbourhood? – SERPS could begin to lose relevance. Again, this is pure speculation, but it makes you wonder just how much Google actually knows about any particular site if it’s worried about natural site “heat” signatures, whatever that metric is being used to calculate.

Or maybe they just don’t like paid links because it’s unfair ;)

Actually I don’t like bashing Google too much because I actually think it (Google) is a brilliant concept.

Whatever, Paid links worry Google, and it’s effect on what we know as “pagerank”.

Wiki Is Hot!An Example Of A Hot Site

Wikipedia is an example of a hot site. Everybody links to it. It’s probably the hottest site on the planet alongside Google. Wiki ranks for just about anything, and could be optimized further to rank for everything – guaranteed (and not ONLY because it’s a REAL AUTHORITY – it’s an INFORMATION site! I wonder if this the real reason Google ranks Wikipedia at the top of a LOT of TRANSACTIONAL serps.)

Of course, Wiki’s a natural phenomenon now. It has links from cold sites and hot sites in both related and unrelated markets. But concerning relevance, would Wiki still rank for the term “search engine optimization” if all the “related” seo industry sites (like this one) removed all links to Wiki in a giant secret test on January 2008? I actually think with a heat source like that – “probably”. The ironic thing is is that it could never be tested, as Google would simply give us the answer it wanted us to have with manual intervention. Google are more likely to intervene in this way much more in 2008 than they ever have in the past. We saw that in 2007.

We’ve still not got to Viagra yet.

Features Of A Hot Site

A hot site is one which a lot of sites link to it from other sites, all with a different heat signature. Hot sites can rank for anything if a page on the site is optimized in both the architecture of the site and on-page seo. Hot sites are natural phenomenon created by other sites linking to them – the more popular the site, the more hot and cold links it will accumulate. It’s possible neighbourhood and relevance are just natural occurrences of sites dividing the heat up within a particular network.

Hot sites generally link to other hot sites. Generally speaking a hot site won’t link to a typically cold site unless that site has content on it that’s nowhere else or is “new”, in turn making that a hot(ter) site.


How To Make Hot Pages On Your Site
I already discussed how I visualise spreading heat through an actual site, or how to optimize your internal navigation structure and navigation array.

Optimal Website Naigation Structure

Building a site with this in mind will help you keep in mind the pages you sell your product on need to be ‘hot’. Cold pages in your site will be penalised, regardless of wether Google says there are no supplementals any more.

The thing to keep in mind, is that if you deem pages in your site not to be that important (by not linking to them enough) – what else is Google to think but those pages are not really that ‘important’ especially for competitive keyterms a lot of people are searching for.

Hot Spots On A Page

So what’s a hot spot on an actual page? Well, there are only a couple you really need to be concerned with in terms of where to place keywords. You’ve got to remember that works best in Google (and Yahoo and MSN) is doing something better than all the competition are doing to meet Google’s quality signals, and more of them, or amazingly, less of them (yes a dicotomy but over optimization is as bad as under-optimization). ;)

It’s a simple task to make a page relevant for a search engine. It’s only looking for words.

  • The Title Element
  • In The Text Content
  • In Links Pointing To The Page

That’s it. You don’t need your keyword anywhere else and if your site is hot enough it will rank. The greater the competition, the more you’re going to have to get your site hotter, or optimize your pages and architecture better. It’s always about the little stuff on-page and it’s always about how hot your site is. There’s no magic bullet, no big secret. There’s always improvements you can make.

Successful SEO = Hot Links, Hot Site, Hot Architecture & Hot Optimized Content

It’s a strange irony that in 2008 mention search engine to anyone in the street and anybody with half an inkling will say “Google” – surely the most relevant search result to return “using” Google.

Perhaps the only reason Google isn’t number 1 for “search engine” in Google is because it is not optimized on-site to do so. Simple optimization techniques would take care of that before you had the time to finish them. Perhaps Google deems that a bit too “evil” a stunt.

Getting a site hot is a job in itself, but this theory would place a lot of weight on internal structure and optimization once the site was hot. It’s a constant back and forth for a search engine optmizer working on a smaller client – getting a site hotter, getting a page hotter – until at least it is hotter than the nearest competition.

Hot & Cold PagesImproved Tips For Search Engine Dominance

A hot site is one thing, but to top Google you could help your site look more relevant to Google. Remember, it’s just words. Words on a page and words in links.


  • Is Your Site Hot?
  • Is Your Page Hot?
  • Is It Relevant To A User Search?

Of course it is, as you’ve “optimized” it thus. Optimization to take on a competitor is just words… in the right places. In better places than your competition. In hotter sites.

  1. Unique Match Domain? – Come On In!
  2. In The Text? – Great!
  3. In The Title Too? Smashing!
  4. Altogether in one term? Wow!
  5. Links Out To Other Hot pages in similar anchor text?
  6. HUNDREDS Of Links Pointing to this page with the term!
  7. A few High Quality sites linking to the page?

Bingo – You’re on page 1, depending on how hot the site is and how much heat resides within that page. What has this got to do with Viagra?

Perhaps pages accrue a certain amount of heat naturally over time, hence an older domain might have a little more heat than a younger domain. For pages to enter a “neighbourhood” hot spot perhaps they need to link to the inner community and have at least some links to itself from the community – who knows?

One things for sure sites need to be kept hot, but only in relative comparison with the direct competition for particular terms. IE you need to keep getting hot links to your site to keep it ….hot, and old links, disappear leaving you with less heat.

Why is that site above yours? It’s hotter than yours, it’s built better or your not using words properly.

Hot Sites Have A LOT of the right links pointing to themWhat You Need To Do To Get More Visitors From Google

Let’s assume your page is optimized, you need heat. The hotter a site, or rather page, the better the link for your site. If a keyword is in the anchor text of the link, even better. Of course the easiest links to find out there are from pages with very cold, or at least very diltuted heat signatures. It’ll take a lot of these to get hot.

If I had a link on the Hot! Hot! Hot! W3C home page to this page with the anchor text vi4gr4 and had those words in the right places on my page, chances are this site would rank for buy vi4gr4 even though it has nothing to do with vi4gr4. (If you’re looking to buy Viagra in the UK, oops!) OK it wouldn’t be top because of the enormous (sometimes black hat) competition, but it might feature, and it will feature above sites with a very cold heat signature.

The point is this site could be made to rank for that term with a bit of work, but especially a page on the W3C site could very easily feature for this and any term if they had a reason to. But I like testing everything, so it’s nice to see how “hot” or trusted my site is, and moving into a totally different area of competition (in the SERPS) can give you an inkling.

So now you can visualise it, rightly or wrongly, like me. Of course knowing how to achieve something is different from actually putting the effort in to achieve it.

Update: yes this page did rank for vi4gr4 terms, but since then, I’ve modified the page title and sitewide links to this page.

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22 Responses

  1. Matt Ridout says:

    Very clear post on links, like your concept of lazers as well, very unique! Gave you a juicy stumble for it!

  2. Jeff Quipp says:

    Very unique perspective Shaun … I really like it. Now if I can just figure out how to make a web site superconductive, it will carry the heat from one site to the next more efficiently, thereby giving my sites a good heat signature quicker … right? Great post :)

  3. Shaun Anderson says:

    Thanks Jeff, Matt. I’m glad I got it out of my head. It’s a bit unfortunate most people feel a wee bit less confident commenting on “seo theory” posts. I’d actually love to hear from people who think similarly or even differently. It’s just my perspective / visualization on observations I’ve made, based on things other people theorized, and so on. A bit of fun. :)

  4. Tanner Christensen says:

    This is an absolutely great article on linking, Shaun. A good analogy and even better advice on how to structure a site.

  5. TheMadHat says:

    It’s a good illustration in simple terms but I think you’re leaving out a lot of things like linking patterns and linking profiles. Google can determine relevance by graphing out what types of sites are linking to another site on a large scale. For example, W3C is being linked to largely from web standards, css, design, html, etc types of sites and not pharma sites. That being said, a vi4gr4 link from W3C isn’t going to get you much in terms of “heat”. I like the concept though.

  6. Lea de Groot says:

    Hehe, but can we talk the W3C into letting you test your concept? :)

  7. Shaun Anderson says:

    I see sites ranking ONLY on links from 100% unrelated sites in totally different sectors. Sitewides too. I love the idea of topical relevance and linking patterns, and of course it’s good to build this linking strategy in for the future. Lets not misunderstand what I say about the W3C. I mean if you used the site as a whole you could rank for nearly any term, if a page was optimized properly too, if the site structure was designed to do so. Obviously I picked Viagra to make a point. Heat, trust, relevance….yah dey yah de yadeh…. in most sectors, you don’t even need to touch on this. Why? Because the competition hasn’t. Guys, thanks for the comments. It’s just a bit of theory bunkum. :)

  8. rob says:

    Nice one Shaun, good to see a fresh presentation of this stuff :D Especially like the hot laser beam analogy; I’m off to find some supercharged ones :D

  9. TheMadHat says:

    True, we do see sites ranking that only have links from unrelated sectors, and it certainly does send some link juice. Competitive niches are a different story I think. I do like the analogy and it is correct. In my opinion though the engines will be moving more and more towards the linking patterns. You do make a good point on links growing or losing strength. It’s a tough one to measure too…wish someone would come up with a tool for that (hint hint)

  10. Demonz says:

    My understanding is that your SERP rank is based on about 200 individual things, notably quality inbound links, relevant content (i.e. topical relevancy which makes up for alot of rules) and link depth separation from a trusted source. As you say, the w3c site is a trusted source. My only doubts about this theory is that since the w3c site isn’t very relevant to vi4gr4 it would not be the best example (perhaps if it were linked from a .gov resopurce on vi4gr4)? I too like the laser analogy. However there is one flaw, and that’s that if you have too many lasers the Google police see a laser show and come in to shut down your rave party. My own experience is that the more links you gain quickly, the longer it will take for those links to be trusted and start appearing in your sites ‘link:’ results. Hence if you have too many lasers all at once rather than recieving them over a long period of time, you might actually increase the time it takes to get trust. But as you say, a couple of big trusted links are good (they are like those big laser towers from Tron).

  11. Shaun Anderson says:

    “too many lasers the Google police see a laser show and come in to shut down your rave party.” – LOL

  12. Evan Jerkunica says:

    Cool post. Have you ever tried to make a hot/cold map for the strongest sites relevant to an SEO campaign? I would love to have some software that would let me input like 500 sites…and then create a hot cold map. Make the map clickable, zoom-in-able, would identify hubs within the 500 sites, etc. That would be amazing.

  13. SEO ibiza says:

    another great post, simple analogies and ways of summarising to explain to clients and trainees are always most welcome and where do you get your funky graphics?

  14. Rom @ PR4 Link Direc says:

    I love the kind of posts with easy to understand visuals ;) I remember the one made by Tim Nash where he used some really cool, funny and surprisingly apt pics :D

  15. seo4growth says:

    The more i read this site the more i enjoy it. I read your previous post relating to heat with great visuals, but this one hits the nail on the head.

  16. Canadian Web Design says:

    Unique Concept, Loads of Advice, Now I feel like I must double check half of the content on my website. Thank you though!

  17. SEO Update says:

    Great piece! This article is a set example of guideline on how to learn about site structuring. Unique material..

  18. MyIkram says:

    another great articles. Once u started to read, u’ll finish it by the end.. I joted down several tips there..

  19. SEO says:

    I Use XFN links for Seo

  20. Web design company says:

    Search engine marketing is getting more and more competitive. Link building is talked about on many forums and blogs and the quality of links are often discussed. This article provides an in depth linking explanation in an unusual but certainly a very effective manner. The information not only makes an interesting read but can be used for identifying an effective link building strategy for any website.

  21. wigwam advertising says:

    Another informative article. It’s helping to teach an old dog new tricks

  22. SEO Design Solutions says:

    Shaun: I had no idea I missed such a crucial post. Love the analogies, the formula, spot on… Don’t give away too much on that one. All the best and thanks for stopping by the other day. Jeffrey Smith

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