Link Popularity in Search Engine Optimization

Link Popularity in Search Engine Optimization

Link popularity has emerged as one of the buzzwords in the search engine optimization community. This was aided in large part by its introduction as a key factor in Google’s web page ranking algorithms. In fact, the term ‘link popularity’ has often been used interchangeably with the search engine’s branded version, called PageRankT.

The underlying theory is that, if other (high-quality) sites are linking to yours, then your web site must be important and, therefore, deserves a higher ranking than it would otherwise have. The more quality, relevant incoming links to your page, the higher it will rank.

One might argue that not all search engines factor in or give more weight to link popularity in their ranking algorithms, so why bother? Well, Google does, and since it is possibly the world’s number one search engine, it is quite understandable why link building has become an essential search engine optimization strategy for many webmasters.

And there are other reasons why building link popularity should be a part of your SEO strategy too.

* Web users visiting other sites will be able to find your site too (more traffic for you)
* Links serve as trails for search engine spiders (robots) to follow, find and index or re-index your site (getting linked to a site that’s already been indexed increases your site’s chances of being visited by the spiders too)

But before you even start link building, it is important that you optimize your internal linkages first.

* Make sure that your site is ‘crawlable.’
o Don’t use Javascript when making your links as they can’t be read by spiders
o Pages that spiders can’t find won’t get indexed, even if they’ve been optimized
o Avoid URLs with long numbers because Google won’t spider any URL that looks like it has a Session ID in it
o Make sure your pages always link out (to your site’s other pages)
o Structure the internal links so that targeted search terms are reinforced
* Use link/anchor text (the text that is clicked on when clicking on a link)
o Syntax: link text
o target page’s main search term/topic should be included in the link text
o don’t use identical link text for every link that links to a page
* Conserve/Distribute Link Weight
o more important pages should be linked to more often within the site
o SLA pages and the like need not have a link from each page
o minimize links to external sites

Once you’ve optimized your internal link structure, you can start link building by doing any or all of the following:

Get listed in major Internet/Web Directories.

* Ex. DMOZ, BlueFind Web Directory, Yahoo! Directory, GoGuides

Get Inbound Links from Related Sites (Reciprocal Links)

1. Search for
* most popular sites in the relevant category (but not direct competitors) in web directories
* sites that link to your competitors (use “link:www.cometitor-domain.com”).
* Email the webmasters of these sites and request for a Link Exchange
* outline the benefits exchanging links
* suggest a location on their site where the link to your site will be appropriate
* include your link title, URL, description, and links page
* text of the inbound link should contain the keyword phrase you are optimizing the page for (but don’t pack it with spam-like keywords or irrelevant content)
* use ALT tags for image links (should contain your keyword or variations thereof)
* avoid too many similar inbound links as Google may filter these as spam
* Make sure you have high quality, content-rich pages that will interest the editors of the sites you are emailing
* Set up a `recommended links’ or ‘resources’ section
o accompany each with a description
o you may lose some visitors but chances are that they will come back to a site that helps them find what they are looking for

Benefits:

* increased traffic
* Improved visibility to search engines
* Added resource
* Savings in advertising

Drawbacks:

* can look tacky if you have hundreds of reciprocal links on your professional site
* time consuming

Take Part in Relevant Online Discussion Forums

* should allows you to include your site’s URL in your signature or member profile
* use our main search terms as the link text
* check robots.txt file to make sure that
o forum is spiderable
o non-members don’t have session IDs in the URLs
o view the source code to make sure that signature links are in plain HTML format and not in Javascript (as this can’t be read by spiders)

Sign Up With Link Exchange Centers/Websites or Link Portals (not Free For All sites)
* only sign up if you can approach other sites personally and vice versa

Benefits:

* categorizes your site and provides you with potential link swap partners
* most provides spider-based links management system (w/ monthly fees)

Drawbacks:

* may violate “spam” rules
* Google may discount the use of these sites

Paid Advertising/Text Links or Website Sponsorships

Benefits:

* advertising partners can’t legally drop your ads as long as you keep paying (results in the longevity needed for links to be indexed)
* can choose the sites you advertise on (select high PageRankT sites to cut down on total number of links needed to boost rankings)
* eposes your product or service to the user base of an already established website
* allows you to focus on promoting your products.

Write Articles (and Allow Reprints)

* publish news and other informative articles on your website
* allow others to reprint your articles on their websites in exchange for link-backs to your site (request a clickable, search-engine indexable link)

Benefits:

* low cost

Of course, getting your site ranked is just half of the battle. You need to be sure that your site stays ranked by ensuring that it is content rich and continues to attract visitors for the information it provides.