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What does Seed Sites mean in SEO?

OK so what are seed sites or seed websites. I'll give you my take on them and and what can do for your rankings and then at the end cover the burning question - do they actually exist?

What are seed sites?


Some people claim, and I'm one of them, that search engines like Google keep a list of websites they believe are never going to do anything dodgy. They will never have links to poor quality websites, their content is well written and presented and they are popular at the posher end of the Internet - in other words they have backlinks from other websites of similar status.

Examples might include Wikipedia, CNN, BBC, and so on. They are angels in Google's eyes and the opposite end of the spectrum from the spammy or junk filled sites that constantly try to rank using Black Hat SEO. If everyone had websites like these angels Google's job would be a whole lot easier ... but they don't.

Seed sites are kept top secret by the search engines that use them which means a couple of things. We don't know which websites they actually are and we don't actually know if search engines use them at all. More on that at the end.

How can seed sites help your rankings?


Now just to cover some old ground if you are new to SEO backlinks from good quality websites will help you rank because links carry something called link juice. The more link juice you get the easier it is for you to rank.

How much link juice you get depends on many factors such as where the link is on the other websites page. Ultimately the best position is high up the page but within the main content and that content is covering a theme similar to the one your web page is about. If it isn't it looks suspicious. Why would a webmaster talk about one thing but include a link to a page on another website about something completely different?

And of course the higher the quality of the website with the backlink, the more link juice it has to pass on because it has got lots of backlinks giving it link juice.

So obviously if you think about the mega websites out there which are household names and do a little digging with something like AHrefs you'll find they have buckets and buckets of backlinks giving them so much link juice that they're fit to burst. A backlink from just one of these websites can be enough to propel your a page on your site to the top of the search results for some search terms.

To put that into perspective there are Black Hat companies out there that will sell you 20,000 backlinks and you might not even notice your rankings budge even an inch.

Now the thinking around seed sites goes something like this. Yes a backlink from one of them will give you a lot of link juice but search engines, especially Google, will give you extra brownie points because it is a seed site.

"Ah" says Google, "that angelic website just created a backlink to Tim's How to SEO website. We trust them completely that they would only do that if Tim's How to SEO website was really, really good so more rankings boost for Tim"

Backlinks and degrees of separation


Perhaps I'm not lucky enough to get a backlink from a seed site but what if I got a backlink from a website which had a backlink from a seed site. Well that still counts. If a very trustworthy site creates a link to Website A then Website A must be pretty trustworthy. If Website A then links to me I must by default be fairly trustworthy.

Not as trustworthy as Website A but I should get some brownie points because I am just one website away from a seed site.

Do seed sites really exist?


Search engines won't say ... and even if they did they are also partial to sewing a fair amount of disinformation around the web in order to throw Black Hat SEO operators off the track. I tend to believe most of what Google claims but when it goes into denial its time to put your common sense hat on and say "Really, you're a world class search engine and your telling me you don't use that easily available data as a signal?"

That leaves the Search Engine Optimization community pretty divided on the issue but here's the thing .... it really doesn't matter.

Even if you could hack into Google HQ and find their list of maybe not existing seed sites, what are you going to do with it? Just try getting backlinks from the websites on the list?

Of course not, your far better off trying to get backlinks from any quality website where you stand a good chance of achieving it. You could spend six months trying to eek out a backlink from a seed site and get no where while in that same time you could have got ten backlinks from ten reasonably good websites.

In other words when it comes to link building seed sites are a bit of a red herring and this particular red herring is a fish that might not even exist.

So, seed sites are websites that search engines like Google know by name and see as whiter than white when it comes to quality content and when it comes to linking they will only link to other quality content. Does Google or Bing or anyone else really keep a list. I suspect so but its impossible to prove.

Whatever the ultimate truth just concentrate your link building efforts at realistically achievable targets that are likely to have plenty of link juice as link juice is something everyone agrees exists ... it was Google's founding principle on how to rank websites in the search results and its never denied it.

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.

If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.

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