The Evolution of Link Popularity

Anyone who has developed a website hoping to quickly achieve a high ranking in the search engines, especially Google, has probably discovered that the task is much more daunting than they originally thought. That is because new websites and even existing websites must prove to Google, Yahoo, MSN and the other search engines that they are worthy of being ranked high.

There are many factors involved in getting a website ranked high in the search engines, including good, relevant content that gives visitors the information they are searching for along with strong link popularity.

What Exactly is Link Popularity?

Many people think link popularity equates to the number of incoming links a website has linking to it. In other words, how many other websites are linking to your website.

But, link popularity is much more than just the number of incoming links you have coming to your website. Factors can include, but are not limited to, the quality and type of website linking to you, whether you link back to that website or not, the reputation of the website linking to you, and if it appears that you paid for the link or not. And Google has just made the distinction between quality links vs. non-quality links even more pronounced with their latest algorithm update.

On a very simplistic level, a website’s link popularity is designed to increase as the number of other websites linking to your website increases. Google’s original inspiration with this concept was based on the fact that Google believes if other websites were linking to your website, you must have something good to link to. In other words, others are giving your website a vote of confidence.

However, as in all aspects of Search Engine Marketing, website owners and SEO specialists found ways to manipulate Google’s Page Rank (Google’s indicator of your link popularity.) Many website owners actively seek other websites that will “exchange” a link with them. “If you link to me, I’ll link to you.” So many times the links are completely irrelevant to the content on the two sites. The reciprocal link arrangements are simply established in order to try to increase their link popularity and thereby their Google Page Rank. There have been entire businesses built on helping websites exchange links with each other to boost their Google Page Rank.

Of course Google is not blind to this manipulation of their algorithm. So it goes without saying that they would eventually figure out a way to help stop, or at least minimize the abuse of their link popularity approach to ranking websites.

How Does this Affect My Site?

Google has adjusted and refined their Page Rank algorithm many times in the last few years. After the latest algorithm update you can pretty much count on your reciprocal links being discounted or completely ignored. Links that have been “bought” on other websites have also been discounted, so I wouldn’t bother spending the money if someone tries to sell you a link on their website to link back to your website. (The main exceptions to this statement are quality directories that charge to be submitted and added to their directory. Most quality directories are normally worth the money they charge due to the benefits you receive from the directory listing.)

“Run of the site” links are also being discounted or ignored by Google. Those are links that someone puts on every page of their site to your website to make it appear that there are a lot of pages linking to your site. Again, you’re better off just having one link to your site from a page that does not have a lot of other outgoing links on it as opposed to having a link from every page on another person’s website.

Get Quality Incoming Links

So how can you increase your link popularity and thereby your Google Page Rank? You’ll need to do it the old fashioned way – by developing a website that people want to visit and link to. Of course, there are also some good opportunities to help people (and Google) find your website so they can have the opportunity to find out just how good it is. Press releases, articles, and quality directories all provide excellent opportunities for strong incoming links to your website.

If your press release catches others attention, you can receive some strong incoming links each time you submit a newsworthy item. Just make sure you really have something to talk about in your press release or it will be ignored.

Articles help to not only build quality content on your site, but you can submit your articles to a variety of article directories that allow others to find what you have written and link to your site as an expert on a particular subject.

Quality directories not only provide good links back to your site but they can also land you a high ranking in a search engine results page. There have been many instances where a website may not be listed on the first page of Google for a search, but the directory listing for that website is listed on the first page. Having that high ranking in the directory is certainly better than no ranking at all! In the end, it’s all about bringing visitors to your website when they are searching for your products for services. And directories can help bring you that traffic.

So, bottom line, you can help boost the rankings of your website through good, quality content coupled with a strong link popularity which you can obtain naturally through your online press releases, articles and quality directory submissions. It takes time for a website to build a good reputation in the search engines, but the long-term benefits are worth the time and effort. Trying to achieve high rankings through questionable practices and shortcuts can work for a while but it will almost always come back to haunt you once your tactics are discovered by the search engines and your site is penalized or removed.

Tell me what you are thinking?