In this newsletter we will take a look at link popularity. Google, HotBot, Teoma, Inktomi, and AlltheWeb are examples of search engines that factor link popularity into their ranking algorithms. A well executed link strategy can increase traffic to your Web site and elevate your search engine visibility. I have put together a quick list of a dozen tips that you can apply to leverage your link popularity campaign.
The theory behind link popularity is simple. In short the more links you have pointing to a Web page on your site from other Web sites, the better. You can think of it as voting. If a site links to a page on your site then that is considered a vote for you. If your site links to a page on another Web site then you are issuing a vote for them.
As you might expect, not all votes are created equal. A link, or vote, from a quality and relevant resource can influence your link popularity much more so than a link from someone’s personal Web page.
Google is the most well-known example of a search engine that exercises link popularity as a means of influencing the ranking of a Web site. Google’s approach to assigning link popularity is coined PageRank. Google offers a brief description of what PageRank is on the Technology page (http://www.google.com/technology/
) of their Web site:
"PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."
Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search..."
To learn more about Google PageRank see the resources section at the end of this newsletter where you will find links to supporting articles.
Keep in mind that link popularity is not just about building link popularity. A good link campaign will generate targetted traffic on its own if you acquire links from quality, relevant Web pages. Let’s move on to the link popularity tips.
Tips & Techniques
- Be patient. Building link popularity for your site does not happen over night. Any products or services, such as Link Exchanges and Link Farms, that make claims suggesting otherwise can be ruled out as spam. Link Exhanges exist to artificially inflate link popularity which is frowned upon by search engines. To be successful you must be prepared to invest time and effort into developing your links campaign. Go for quality Web sites that share a similar theme to your site and not simply quantity! Keep in mind that it can take several weeks before results begin to show. The Google Toolbar can help you evaluate links by supplying you with PageRank details.
- Be sure to internally cross-link key pages within your own Web site. For example, you can include text only navigation to key sections of your site at the bottom of each page, you can incorporate a site map using text-based hyper links, and you can use call-to-actions imbedded in page content to cross link related material. Taking steps such as these makes your site easier to spider for the search engines and helps boost your internal link popularity, which in turn can increase your Google PageRank. Internal links refer to links to pointing to material within a single Web site.
- On a similar note, if you own or operate a series of Web sites that contain unique, but related content then consider cross-linking the Web sites to help increase your link popularity. Make use of all resources you have at your disposal - others will!
- Include supporting outbound links that reinforce the theme of your Web site. You can create a designated links page to post reciprocal links and supportive links. This can increase the relevancy of your site as an authoritative resource. Also, creating a resourceful links page can lead to other Web sites linking to you without you having to ask. Some experts suggest including a small amount of outbound links (e.g. 2) on key pages that support the page theme to improve relevancy as opposed to reserving a single page for all outbound links. You may wish to consider the latter technique depending on your business objectives and the image you desire to portray to your target market.
- Keep your Web site fresh and up to date. A site that is current is more likely to receive new and keep existing inbound links. Also, if your site is kept current you are more likely to benefit from repeat traffic from your target market who will return to see the new additions. Consider publishing articles or including a White Paper on your Web site that others may want to link to.
- Make it easy for others to link to you. Provide people step-by-step instructions for linking to your site and provide them with the code that they can copy-paste on their site to include a link to you. The easier you make it for others to link to you, the more likely they will act on it.
- Make sure you include relevant keywords in the link text, or anchor tags, of links on your Web site. This makes it easier for the search engines to assign a theme and attribute relevancy. This technique can also help boost your search engine rankings as a result of better use of keywords. Where possible use sales oriented copy because you are looking for traffic from links, not just link popularity.
- There are tools a plenty, such as desktop applications and Web based applications, available to help you with your link building efforts. I do not endorse these tools for soliciting links; however, they are useful for locating potential links and for managing your link campaigns. Managing your link campaign by hand or even by spreadsheet can quickly become overwhelming once you start accumulating a significant volume of links. Also, searching for “Add URL” and “Submit Web site” will work to a point, but there will come a point where the time you are investing is no longer worth the effort involved.
- Make sure you do what you’re told on Web sites that actively solicit links. If a Web site asks you to fill out a submission form in order to contribute a link then use it. Ignoring the rules by sending an email will only be ignored.
- When actively seeking links acquire directory listings and links from authoritative sites. Directories employ human editors that evaluate Web sites for relevancy. Yahoo! and the Open Directory Project (ODP) should be at the top of your list. Getting list in ODP is free whereas Yahoo! charges an annual fee for commercial organizations. From there you should consider topic or industry specific directories.
- Participate in Blogs and Discussion Forums that contain living content. By including a link to your site in the signature of your posting you can increase your link popularity. Blogs, or Web Logs, are the hot ticket at the moment.
- Build links! Develop a comprehensive links strategy! You must maintain and add to your links strategy over time. Be prepared to set aside time to regularly look for new links and maintain existing campaign efforts.
My last tip suggests developing a comprehensive links strategy. I have covered this topic in-depth in a previous newsletter and have resources available on my Web site that you can follow to build your links strategy.
Bottom line, focus on acquiring links to your Web site that matter! You want links that relate to your content and that will bring traffic to your Web site on their own; therefore, you want to focus your efforts on Web sites that are viewed as authorities and that are related in nature to your own Web site.
I invite you to submit any tips you have on link popularity that can be included in a future newsletter! Send your tips directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I look forward to hearing from you.
Tools & Resources
There are many tools available to aid you in your link development campaigns. Here are just a few to get you started.
Link popularity evaluation tools:
You can search for competitors' links in the major search engines by entering
their URL into the search box. For example:
PakeRank evaluation tools:
Link development and management applications:
I have included several articles for you to reference. For additional resources on a variety of topics I recommend you visit the resources section of my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com/resources.html
. There you will find additional tips, tools, techniques and resources.
Visit my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com