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11 Jan 2008

Link Popularity or Link Pop?

Once you have your website up and running, you may be shocked if, after a few months, you aren’t getting any visitors and you’re still in the dungeons of the major search engines. If you have good content, lots of SEO and a great product or service, what’s keeping you from being seen? It’s most likely your lack of links. The importance of links to your site’s placement in the most popular search engines can’t be underestimated – links tell the search engines how popular your site is with others who are on the web.

You could, of course, simply submit your site to a paid links site that promises you “thousands of links” for your site and hope that whatever they throw at the wall sticks, but that may not be your best bet. After all, search engines are increasingly savvy to how links work, and if your site has hundreds of links that aren’t really relevant to your product or service, your link popularity will probably remain quite low in the rankings. On the other hand, what help is there in having highly relevant links in limited numbers? It is this balancing act between link popularity and link relevance, or pop that is so hard to maintain. Finding the right balance is essential.

Link Popularity – The Case for and Against Numbers

Every site should try to cultivate multiple links to their site. One-way links from other sites to yours indicate that lots of people are interested in what you have to offer, and search engines do recognize this link popularity and reward it in the rankings. Reciprocal links are also a good way to increase your presence in the search rankings. With reciprocal links, you can show up in searches for your own product or service and searches for the products and services of those sites you’ve linked to.

The down side to this type of linking is that you can also be penalized in the ranks if you have hundreds of links – one-way or reciprocal – to sites that have nothing to do with your own site’s purpose. It’s why submission to paid linking services can be a bad idea – if you end up linked to sites that are too diverse or questionable in their content, you’ll drop quickly in the ranks. A site selling baby clothes linked to hundreds of baby product and care sites will do well. A baby clothes site linked to thousands of sites peddling porn, vitamins, diuretics and auto loans won’t.

How to “Pop” – Understanding the Importance of Quality

When establishing links, be industry specific – a handful of links from other sites that are focused in some way on your industry, whether it’s cleaning products, income tax preparation or natural food supplements will help pop you closer to the top in the search engines. If you make natural herbal teas, look for links to natural health and living, teas and natural cures – all inter-related topics that are relevant to what you offer.

Industry directories are also a great place to submit links that are high quality. Why? Because the larger directories are set up with complex search capabilities. Their category descriptions, Meta tags and keywords all result in highly relevant, top quality links. Because they were designed expressly to make finding particular industry information easier, a lot of time and effort has gone into the links and how they are interconnected.

Links are “graded” by the search engines based on complex algorithms that detect not only how many links there are to your site, but how relevant those links are (keep the whole diuretics/porn links problem in mind) to your own product or service. A higher relevancy score in the search engines gives you more weight based on the authority of the sites you’re linked to. Will ten incoming links from little-known sites equal one link from a site featuring recognized experts in your field? One hundred? One thousand? Or will your small cache of links from big, important sites count you out because everyone else seems to have thousands of links, relevant or not, compared to your hundreds?

The fact is, the algorithms that determine which sites are the best are evolving daily. A balance of link popularity and link “pop” is essential to being recognized by search engines and moving up through the rankings. Once you’ve achieved that status, however, you have to maintain it. That means constantly “tweaking” the links to and from your site – fine-tuning both number and relevance – in order to maintain your spot. Finding the proper balance and adjusting your Internet presence to optimize both content and links is a never-ending process that, when done properly, can place you on the front page of the best search engines.

[tags] link popularity, quality links, SEO, paid links, one-way links, reciprocal links [/tags]

1 Comment

  • Ma Lacko Feb 06, 2011

    It’s really great post. I would like to appreciate your work and would like to tell to my friends. Thanks for sharing!