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SEO 101

Google’s Hilltop Algorithm – A Foundation for Modern SEO

The Hilltop Algorithm is one of the most important algorithms in search engine applications today. It was introduced by Google in 2003 and continues being the primary foundation of SEO even as other parameters in newer algorithms are added.

What exactly is Hilltop Algorithm?

The primary goal of Hilltop Algorithm was identifying authoritative digital pages to help with page ranking. The algorithm is a model that worked together with PageRank to identify the pages that are authoritative and expert.

Hilltop identifies the authoritative website pages by first selecting the “expert pages.” Expert pages mean the pages that are specific to particular topics that linked to a lot of other websites. Once the expert pages are selected, Google goes ahead to identify the highest quality sites to rank.

The assumption employed here is that the number and quality of the sources pointing to a page is a good measure of the pages’ quality. The main difference is the fact that the primary target is picking the “expert” sources designed to assist directing visitors towards a specific resource.

The notion of being the connectivity algorithm implies they are link-based algorithm. A good example is PageRank. PageRank helps to propagate PageRank in the entire website and further ranks the pages. The algorithm helps to pick expert pages first in order to narrow down to the authoritative pages that should be ranked high in search engine result pages.

Now, Hilltop draws from sites that are linked to create a pool of “experts” pages carefully organized by the niche subjects.

How did Hilltop affect SEO in the past?

Hilltop Algorithm produced a great impact on Search Engine Optimization. It was established that links that emanated from .edu pages, links from highly relevant websites such as, and links that came from top directories such as Zeal and Yahoo help websites to get better ranking. Note that these high authority pages have continued to increase over time.

When Hilltop algorithm was first unveiled, getting a link from was ample to make your website rank better in Google. For example, a website such as DMOZ that was properly linked and employed references for getting quality sites to link to, would assist your site to rank better (DMOZ was in itself a high-quality link).

A closer look at the Hilltop Algorithm reveals that it might have introduced a new idea of concealing websites’ relationships. Because of this, websites started using IP addresses from blocks of IP addresses that were not related and concealing domain ownership. They also became extra careful about how their websites were getting interlinked.

Because of the above machinations to beat the algorithm, networks of websites that were owned by one organization, at times experienced a huge loss in ranking. Google would easily tell that the links were manipulated because they lacked diversity.

Hilltop algorithm implications on SEO today

Over time, PageRank, which is very similar to Hilltop, progressively evolved to include newer concepts like authoritative seed pages. Before Hilltop was unveiled, Google employed other types of algorithms that targeted on authorities and hubs. Hilltop algorithm came to help reinforce the concept of authority websites. SEO continues operating using authoritative website pages for better ranking.

Since websites that were suspected to target beating Hilltop algorithm through networks got deranked, it is important to be extra careful when building links. This implies that SEO and webmasters must exercise caution about interlinking many domains. Though the penalty might have changed between the launch of Hilltop algorithm and newer algorithms in use today, sites that still use the malpractice get penalized.

Is Hilltop algorithm important today?

Some people might argue that Hilltop algorithm is no longer relevant to SEO. However, it is the understanding of how the algorithm works that will help you develop a strong foundation of SEO. A closer look at the shifting algorithms indicates that everything is adrift towards providing better UX. However, links have remained an important component in every ranking system.

To become a great SEO marketer, the best approach to follow is focusing on the evolution of the algorithms. This will help to build on progressive discoveries and achievements made over time.

How to optimize your website for Hilltop

To articulately optimize for Hilltop algorithm, the secret is spotting expert documents. To put it differently, you need to rethink link building. Here are some useful tips.

a) Start by identifying authoritative websites

The simplest method is identifying an authoritative website is following the search results that have authoritative listings including site links. Site links are first links when you key a query on Google. Make sure to check those that are relevant to your website. Then, draw ways of linking to them such as reviewing their products and even forging relationships.

b) Mix your site link profile

Google helps a lot in analyzing links. If your website only has expert, authority, and seed links, it is likely to be considered suspicious. Here, you need to look for newer links including less trusted websites to demonstrate that links are natural.

c) Network with real people and websites

The most recommended method of getting links is networking with real people running real enterprises. Think of it this way. Getting a link from Washington Post is worth more than many links from generic directories. Reach out to institutions, companies, and organizations and work on corroboration to get regular links. You could follow the products offered by such companies and work towards their links or even do guest posts.

d) Discover and follow competitors’ authority links

To get even more authority links, you can consider following the competitors to know what they have but you are missing. You can analyze their links using a tool such as the Common Backlink Tool. Then, target them to win the links also. Remember to only target the links that completely relevant to your niche.

The final take

While new ranking algorithms are being released at a very high frequency, the power of link to authoritative sites remains critical in getting your site in the first pages. You should work towards identifying the high-quality sites while enhancing diversity. To grow even faster with Hilltop algorithm, make sure to grow the links using other marketing channels including social media, email marketing, and affiliate marketing.

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