Increase Search Engine Rank With Link Popularity

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Increase Search Engine Rank With Link Popularity

by Larisa Tomason,
Senior Web Analyst,
NetMechanic, Inc.

Many webmasters who were thankful to leave concerns about "being popular" behind in high school are now learning that popularity is still important. Link Popularity, that is. Led by Google, many search engines include your link popularity score in the algorithms they use to determine your site's rank.

Learn how link popularity can affect your site's search engine ranking - and what you can do to improve it.

Link Popularity and Link Importance

Quite simply, your link popularity score is the total number of external sites that link to yours. Link importance is closely related to link popularity, but with a twist. It looks at the type of external link and assigns higher scores to high quality links.

Link importance helps filter out the spammers who set up dozens of free sites and then link their bogus sites to the main Web site. Spamming is such a problem that some search engines don't count free Web sites at all in their link popularity scores.

Some of the more complex search engine algorithms combine link popularity with link importance and use it to assign a weighted link popularity score. The weighted score looks at two things: the number of sites linked and the relative importance of those sites. For instance, if CNN links to your site, that single link might count a lot more than 20 links from your friends' personal Web pages.

Check Your Link Popularity Score

Your link popularity score is a relatively objective measurement and you can check that with several search engines. However, there's no single way to predict what your weighted link popularity score is because each search engine uses a different algorithm to determine it.

NetMechanic made checking link popularity easier when we recently added a Link Popularity measurement to the Page Primer results section of our Search Engine Power Pack tool.

Remember that numbers will vary between search engines because they all query from different databases.

How Does It Affect Your Rank?

Your link popularity score alone won't determine your rank, but search engines increasingly use it to score pages because they consider it a sign of a high quality site. As Google co-founder Sergey Brin explains: "external approval raises a page's ranking."

That makes sense if you think about it: one site won't link to another site for no reason, so a site with a lot of external links must contain valuable content.

All search engines use different algorithms to rank sites, but most of the major ones consider link popularity in some form. Google uses link popularity almost exclusively to rank sites.

Google also recently partnered with yahoo to provide secondary results for Yahoo's Web directory, so a high ranking in Google may help you in Yahoo as well. (To see secondary results in Yahoo, enter your search term, then click on the Web Pages selection on the top toolbar.) Most other major search engines also factor popularity into their algorithms.

Lots of links to your site can also improve your search engine ranking by keeping you in the search engines. As more sites link to you, the odds increase that search engine spiders will encounter your site regularly and be less likely to drop it from their databases.

Improving Your Link Popularity

The downside of link popularity as a ranking tool is that it penalizes new sites. Even if you have a terrific site stuffed with valuable content, it still takes time to publicize your site and collect links.

Don't wait for other webmasters to find you! Instead, search the Internet to find sites related to yours and compile a list of sites likely to be interested in linking to your site. For instance, a local land conservation group might put together a list like this: state and local hunting organizations; other environmental groups in the area; as well as city and county informational Web site pages.

Now spend some time networking:

  • Email the webmaster of each site and briefly explain how a link to your site could benefit their visitors. Make this a personal appeal; don't send a general form letter because that is likely to be deleted at once.
  • Offer to trade links: include a link to them on your site first and include the appropriate URL in your message.
  • Suggest the section of their site where a link to yours would be appropriate.
  • Make it easy for them to link to you by including the necessary HTML code in your email.

Link Exchange Services

While you network, consider registering with a link exchange service to quickly generate more links pointing to your site. Their operation is simple. You register your site with the service and the service adds you to the links page that other members place on their Web sites. Some services promise to add as many as 500 links pointing to your Web site within 30 days.

Most link exchange services are free, but almost all impose some restrictions on their members. The most common are:

  • You must display a specific icon on your home page that points to the links page on your site.
  • You must upload the updated links page to your site periodically (usually every 30 days) or be dropped from the service.
  • You have to agree to submit your site (including the links page) to search engines on a regular basis.

Before you register with a service, carefully study its rules and regulations to make sure your site is eligible (some don't accept adult sites, for instance). Also check to make sure that the links are relevant to your site content. Some search engines are beginning to penalize so-called "link farms" that don't add any value to a site.

In The Meantime

Both networking and link exchange can take time to show benefits. While you wait, focus on optimizing your page for search engines. Most still rely mainly on your HTML code and page content to rank your site. Common techniques like TITLE and META Tags make your site attractive to the search engine algorithms and help boost your ranking even before you get many external links.

Page Premiere will analyze your page and help you optimize your page to appeal to the individual search engines' algorithms.

Keyword : How to create Link Popularity, Link Popularity,

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