Link Popularity Explained and How To Build Links

Link popularity is the single most influential factor for determining how well a web site will perform in search engine rankings. A web site's link popularity is computed from the number and more importantly, the quality of links pointing to a web site.

Link Popularity history

To gain a better understanding of link popularity it is useful to know why it became so crucial for search engine rankings. In the past a web page's ranking was determined, amongst other factors, by the number of keyword occurences within 'on-page' elements i.e. in page text, META tags, title tag.

When web developers learned that they could trick a search engine to return their web pages by cramming keywords into their pages the search engines had to get a bit smarter. They were using 'on-page' elements to determine relevance so it was only natural that they would look to elements out of direct control of the web page creator i.e. 'off-page' elements. Search engines made the assumption that the greater the number of links from other sites pointing to a web site, the more popular the web site is and therefore a more quality resource. This worked nicely in theory but in practice it was also to be abused.

Web site owners figured out many ways to get links pointing to their web sites one example of which was through the use of link farms, pages the contained nothing more than a collection of links, Quantity of links was being abused so the search engines made use of the old saying "quality not quantity" and began to assign a quality factor to each of the links pointing to a web site. Now web sites that had a higher number of high quality links were looked upon favourably by the search engines. Building link popularity became a science in itself and today is still the most time-consuming and frustrating activity for a search engine optimizer.

Main classes of links

Note: In the following examples SiteA is our web site and SiteB is an outside site (i.e. a web site under a different domain name than SiteA).

Inbound links:

Inbound links to a web site are links that originate from an outside web site. An example would be a link on SiteB pointing into a page on SiteA.

SiteA (----- SiteB

Outbound links:

Outbound links from a web site are links pointing to a page on an outside web site. An example would be a link on SiteA pointing out to a page on SiteB.

SiteA -----) SiteB

There are two further classifications of links:

Reciprocal links:

An example of a reciprocal link is when SiteA links to SiteB AND SiteB links to SiteA, the link is reciprocated by both parties.

SiteA -----) SiteB

AND

SiteA (----- SiteB

To achieve a high link popularity the type of links to build are inbound one-way links. This simulates how natural links are created i.e. links that people create to point to your site because they found it worth linking to.

For outbound links it is natural to assume that they might decrease link popularity of a web site but this is not true. You do not give away your link popularity when you link to another site. They do not add to your link popularity though.

Reciprocal links can add to your link popularity if the web site that you exchange links with has a higher link popularity than your site. However they are not as powerful as inbound, one-way links as they are quite artificial in nature i.e. most probably created by communication between the owners of both sites.

How to build link popularity

So it is quite obvious that to help build up a nice link popularity many inbound, one-way links need to be created. This can be achieved in a number of different (and most importantly, legal) ways:

Directories:

Directories are categorized listings of links from around the web. Many, many directories exist and vary in their methods of getting your link posted on them. They provide a great source of quality inbound, one-way links. Getting listed in quality directories such as DMOZ or Yahoo can be more beneficial for your link popularity than a lot of links from smaller, newer directories.

Great site content:

The most powerful way to get inbound, one-way links is to have great site content that other web sites will want to link to. This allows you to get links from sites other than directories, which can definitely be better. The best thing about this is that it requires no communication on your part, it just happens naturally. If your site has poor content then others sites may not link, including the directories. Most of the top ranking web sites today got to the top because of great content. Writing interesting and informative articles for your web site is a good way of getting these kind of links.

Emailing web site owners:

If you come across a listing of links on a web site other than a directory e.g. a links page on a somebody's personal web site, it can do no harm to write the web site owner a polite email requesting a link to your site from their page. They may request a reciprocal link in return but sometimes they do not and you can get a quality inbound, one-way link for your efforts. I have got many links in the past using this method. In my email I always ask them to visit my site first before making a decision to link and I personalise each email with a comment or two about their site.

Summary

The best and most effective way of increasing your search engine rankings is working to improve your web site's link popularity. This can be achieved by getting as many inbound, one-way links as you can from quality sites such as directories. Other ways to get these links are having great content on your site and requesting a link to your site from other web sites.

Increasing link popularity is a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process but is definitely worth the time and effort when you see a dramatic increase in traffic.

Frank Kilkelly is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Expert and Webmaster at http://www.seo-ireland.com/, a complete search engine optimization resource. The highlight of the site is an SEO forum http://www.seo-ireland.com/forum/ for discussion of the latest techniques and tips to improve the ranking of your web site.

In The News:

Colorado SEO Pros  Techradar
Mayple SEO services  TechRadar
SEO Support24x7  WhaTech
Networking Bizz  Techradar
SEO in 2020: Going Beyond Google  Search Engine Journal

Google, Yahoo!, Pandoras Box And The Lottery

In the fall of 1990, the musical group Snap had... Read More

Google PageRank Explained

PageRank - an exclusive technology developed by Google which can... Read More

The Role of the Robots.txt File to Improve Site Ranking!

Not many web master take the time to use a... Read More

Feed me - Satisfy the Search Engines and Your Sites Visitors With Keyword-Rich Content

Search engines love content. Graphics may make your site look... Read More

Cache in the Bank: Understanding Googles Advanced Operators

If you would like to know when your site was... Read More

Search Engine FAQ

Why shouldn't I use a submission service that submits my... Read More

Do Search Engines Like Your Web Site?

Between 75% and 98.8% of visitors to Web sites come... Read More

The Simple Formula To Search Engines

Search engines are one of the best tools to bring... Read More

Do You Submit Your Website To All The Search Engines?

There is really only one search engine to worry about... Read More

An Introduction to Google Sitemaps

... and why I 'm dying to get finally in... Read More

Can Google Really Deliver Country Specific Searching?

This is a serious matter, can Google really deliver top... Read More

Internet Directory Submission Tips

Internet Directories and their ImportanceThere are two very pertinent reason... Read More

What is Google Pagerank?

PageRank is one of the factors that Google uses to... Read More

Smartpages - Legitimate SEO Or Spam?

Smartpages are highly optimized pages which draw stampeded of search... Read More

Surviving the Search Wars ? Local Directories

The pursuit of online information has become an increasingly dynamic... Read More

List Building vs. Search Engine Optimization

It seems the excitement about search engine optimization fades in... Read More

Quick Keyword Research that Works!!!

Keywords are terms or words related to particular topic. Keyword... Read More

Give the Folks at Google What They Want

Recent developments on the Google front have web marketers and... Read More

Why Top Search Engine Placements Never Move?

#1 question when it comes to web advertising is how... Read More

Search Term Suggestion Tool

Overture.com offers a cool function to assist you on your... Read More

Is Reciprocal Linking Dead?

I just read an article at SitePro News that really... Read More

Duplicate the Exact Steps Used to Get a Number 1 Yahoo Ranking in Less than 30 Days

If you have ever been into a McDonalds you will... Read More

Beyond Hits!

Your Website visitor reports are a goldmine of information. If... Read More

Marketing Articles: Getting A Better Search Engine Rank For All Of Your Pages!

In one of my articles, I discussed how to market... Read More

How To Use Google As A Niche Website Builder

The popularity of weblogs or blogs has gotten a lot... Read More