days, "link popularity" is the talk
of the town in the search engine optimization
community. However, the definition of link popularity,
and how much effect it actually has on search
engine rankings, is often misunderstood.
is Link Popularity?
theory goes something like this: The search
engine powers-that-be, have decided that if
other sites are linking to your site, it must
be a winner, therefore, it deserves a boost
in rankings (when all else is equal). If you
think about it, this makes a lot of sense. People
link to good sites, not bad ones.
search engines are thought to place some emphasis
on link popularity in their ranking algorithm.
Some people believe that the number of sites
pointing to your site is what determines your
link popularity, and the more links there are,
the higher your ranking will be. However, that
is only partially true. The search engines (and
those that program them) are not dumb. They
are used to search engine spammers trying to
cheat their way into getting a high ranking.
Because of this, the search engines are not
just looking for the number of links that point
to a site, but the quality of those links.
appear to be two types of links that get factored
into the link popularity equation. Links from
other sites that focus on the same keyword phrases
your site focuses on, and links from relevant
categories in major directories and industry
specific portals. "Free For All" (FFA)
sites, do not constitute quality links, so don't
waste your $24.95 submitting your site to 500
of them. Links from sites that focus on topics
that have nothing to do with your site probably
won't help you win any link popularity contests,
Does Link Popularity Work?
an example of how I believe link popularity
say that Bob's Pizza Palace Web site has a link
to Joe's Men's Clothing store. This probably
won't help Joe's link popularity for the keywords
"men's clothing." However, if both
Bob's Pizza Palace and Joe's Men's Clothing
Store are both located in the city of Boston,
and people are searching for "men's clothing
in Boston," the quality of that link, may
have just gone up a little. There's now a common
thread (Boston) between the sites. It probably
won't help for those people simply searching
for men's clothing, but may help if they're
searching specifically for stores in the City
of Boston. A higher quality link for Joe, however,
would be one from "Sam's Clothing Store
Directory," which lists a whole bunch of
clothing stores that can be found on the Internet.
That is exactly the kind of link that the search
engines would credit toward link popularity.
The key is in having that common thread between
Do I need to worry about Link Popularity?
general, there's no need for the average site
to obsess over link popularity. From my experience,
(and contrary to popular belief), link popularity
constitutes only a very small element of most
search engines' ranking algorithms. How much
it actually boosts a site's ranking, is debatable.
I have found that for most sites, simply having
good representation in the major search Directories
such as Yahoo!, Dmoz, LookSmart, NBCi and Go,
can go a long way towards link popularity.
sites that are trying to rank high with extremely
competitive keywords, it may be helpful to actively
search out links from other relevant Web sites.
This doesn't mean you should go out and create
a whole bunch of domains yourself and link them
all together. It simply means you should look
for sites that use the same keywords that your
site uses, and see if they have a links page
that they'd be willing place your link on. Industry-specific
portals/directories are great also a great place
to look for links.
if you don't care about link popularity, being
listed on other relevant sites, is always a
good idea. Very often, these types of links
will bring more traffic to your site than a
high search engine ranking will bring. Therefore,
searching them out is often worth the time and
to get linked without even trying!
enough, if your site is well written and provides
a lot of useful information, you won't have
to search out links at all. Other sites will
link to yours of their own volition. We have
seen this process in action with our
Rank Write Roundtable
actively requesting any links (other than the
major Directories and a few sites that list
email newsletters), many highly relevant sites
have added Rank Write to their list of links.
Each week, I find more and more sites that have
added our link. This, of course, is the ideal,
and isn't going to happen for every site. However,
if done correctly, even some commercial sites
might be able to benefit from this approach.
If the commercial site adds some content, and
if the content is unique and useful, other sites
may want to link to it. You just need to be
creative. For instance, Joe's Men's Clothing
Store, could add some pages describing the latest
trends in men's fashion. What's hot this season,
and what's not. If Joe does a good job presenting
this information, and updates it often, other
fashion sites might add a link to Joe's site,
because it adds value to their own site.
are the types of things you need to think about
when it comes to the link popularity of your
site. How can you make your site so good that
others will be only too willing to link to it,
without you even having to ask for it? If you
can figure that out, you won't have to worry
about link popularity ever again!