When you are building links to increase your link popularity, who do you link to? The question of where to link to increase ranking can be confusing. Logical thinking is needed to achieve link popularity in a natural way.
First and foremost, PageRank is part of the algorithm of Google's ranking in the search engine results. Other search engines use link popularity in their algorithm to evaluate your website as well. But PageRank is only one of the 100 plus criteria Google uses to evaluate your web pages. Use the idea of PageRank as a "tool" to help make decisions, there's no need to live and die by the results. Link popularity itself is merely one way to improve your ranking.
Should You Link To Them?
Think about it. You see a quality website, you see good content. The site is a "Mom and Pop" website with little ranking. So what if the Google Toolbar says PageRank 2/10? That 2/10 may one day be 8/10. More importantly, you are linking to it because it is good to link to for your visitors - end of story.
Reciprocal Linking Fears
There is a general fear of reciprocal linking to websites who inadvertently link to a "bad neighborhood" with penalties or PageRank zero, passing on problems to you. Use your common sense. Is this a website you would want to visit or your visitors would want to visit? If the answer is no or you can't tell what the subject of the site is, make a note of it and keep looking. A website full of links with little content doesn't "make sense" because what benefit is it to you or your visitors? Of course you are going to link to your partners in business or maybe the small website that is doing a bang up job of selling widgets and providing widget information.
Linking Just To Link
If you are going to link, what purpose does it serve? The idea of acquiring link popularity by linking back and forth to other sites to boost your popularity artificially is a popular method. But is it of value to your website? Ask yourself:
* Would you link to this site if link popularity in the search engines didn't matter?
* Would your visitor care about this link or find it helpful?
* Does the website have good content?
* Is this an opportunity for you to publicize your website by being listed there?
* Will this link cause you to spend a great deal of time worrying about it?
* Is the link "just a link" or do you want a link from any site whose visitors care about what you have to say
Places To Seek Out Links That Make Sense
It makes sense to list your website in the search engines and directories. In fact, one-way linking, such as listing your site in directories, is a good way to improve your link popularity naturally. Well, you say to yourself, of course I've done that. Besides the major directories, what else is out there? You'd be surprised at the amount of good secondary and specialty directories that drive traffic. Some even specialize in a topic - maybe your topic. If you have a product to sell, look at who your competitor is linking to. Search for directories and business sites on your topic. Look for websites that talk about the widgets you sell and see if they accept submissions to their directory listings in the category for widgets. Do they accept original articles, product reviews, press releases or white papers about widgets? If so, submit your topical articles and watch your link popularity rise naturally. Always include your author bio, website link, reprint and copyright information for your company. With your good content on other websites as well as archived on your own website, there you have it, links pointing back to your website.
Think Like A Search Visitor
You've heard about good navigation, website usability and other ways to keep your site visitors interested in your site. Who are the search engines catering to? Webmasters? Search Engine Marketers? Google is a prime example - they want to create the best experience for their search engine users. It all ties in together - good content, good navigation, good usability, validated code, and relevant search engine results - because it makes sense. If Google as the leader in search engines is concerned about the visitor, don't you think the other search engines follow suit?
Hard Work Instead Of Worrying
Focus your time on good content which uses your important keyword phrases. Optimize your web pages using those keywords. Develop your website so once your visitors arrive, they will want to stay. The world wide web uses linking to connect us all. By using hard work to create a quality website and common sense when linking you can stop worrying and start succeeding.
Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine Marketing Consultant for Search Innovation Marketing, a Search Engine Optimization company serving small businesses. She has specialized in Search Engine Promotion since 1998, including three years as the Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly Media, Inc., a technical book publishing company.
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