"Link Popularity" is a ranking criterion that search engines use in their algorithms, both the sheer number of other sites linking to your website and especially the importance and relevance of the other sites linking to your website are considered. The more you know about "link popularity" the farther and faster you can move your website to the TOP OF THE SEARCH ENGINES!
This information is important to you because once you understand how link popularity works, all your decisions about your web site from the domain name you select-to the tightness of its focus… to the way you list your site with the major search engines, and right up to the number and quality of linking sites you go after… will all snap into place.
In this article, we are going to give you 8 great ways to INCREASE YOUR LINK POPULARITY. You will also learn how to measure your site's link popularity and see how it stacks up against your competition. You will also find out about the three factors that AFFECT YOUR SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS and the two techniques NOT to use.
As search engines become more sophisticated, the old techniques of "fooling" them to get a high ranking with "smoke and mirror" tricks such as: keyword stuffing (repeating keywords repeatedly): invisible text (the background and the text are the same color, so the text is not seen by the visitor) and multiple page submissions don't work anymore. Even Meta tags are losing some of their effectiveness.
Other dubious techniques such as free-for-all links and (some) link exchange programs can even get your website banned from search engines because these approaches may be interpreted as spamming.
Once you have the background information on link popularity, we'll show you how to set up a super matrix, a series of sites that all link to each other and to your main site. Implementing this technique will reward you with consistently high search engine rankings and leave your competitors scratching their heads trying to figure out how you always manage to top them.
#ONE: What is Link Popularity and how can it be measured?
"Two years from now, it seems reasonable to assume that more search engines will rely on link popularity and that the importance of link popularity will be more heavily weighted among search engines that use it now."
Imagine you are CEO of a major search engine. You know that the only way you are going to stay popular is by providing sites that match exactly what surfers are looking to find. You also know that you had better provide quality sites filled with great content on that topic. Then you make an assumption: If a lot of sites, particularly quality sites are linked to a related site, then, chances are... it's a good site too.
Now, as CEO you are faced with a challenge. All these clever search engine-marketing companies are developing software and techniques to fool your search engine. You don't like that. And so, you call in your top staff and issue an edict, "Figure out a way that only the best sites can get to the top of our search engine and ignore the ones that are more concerned with ranking than content."
By looking at rankings from the search engine perspective, you can now see that not only the number of other sites linking to yours but more importantly the importance of the other sites in terms of their relevancy become important factors. If you sell computers or software then having Microsoft link to you would drive your site ratings right through the roof. If you sold chocolates on your site, then theoretically, the link from Microsoft just counts as one more link.
To see how YOUR SITE MEASURES UP in terms of link popularity (on Alta Vista, Google and HotBot) you can visit (http://www.linkpopularity.com).
#TWO: How does link popularity affect your search engine rankings?
Different search engines will use different weightings. For example, one might use Meta tags as the dominant component and another might use quality of links. Another might primarily consider the total number of links along with the site design and keyword placement within the HTML. You will want to cover as many of these components as possible.
Here are three factors search engine algorithms consider when determining ranking for web sites under each keyword or keyword phrase:
1) Number of links - Sheer numbers count provided that they are links from relevant websites. The number of links is the most important (but not the only) factor in getting your site a high ranking on Google. Other search engines such as: HotBot, AltaVista, Northern Light, Inktomi and MSN also include the number of links in their ranking formulas.
2) Relevance - Are the sites that are linking to you relevant, helpful and important to your visitors? If you have a car site, then a link to an auto insurance company is relevant. If that company is a national leader and a household name then that is even better.
3) Link Text - The words used to hyperlink other web sites to your site "factor in" towards your sites link popularity. That's why it is important you provide the specific text links other sites use to link to you. Do not leave this to chance or to their imagination. You want as many other sites as possible linking with the same words to describe your site.
Let's say you sell the best smoky sausages in town and your friends and family encourage your to start up your own business and sell them on the web. Here are the three text link formats:
The best would be your top keyword or keyword phrase hyperlinked to your URL, i.e. the best smoky sausages (hyperlinked to) http://www.Joes-smoky-sausages.com
2nd best would be any keywords linked to any of your URL's i.e. sausages (hyperlinked to) http://www.Joes-smoky-sausages.com
3rd best would be just your URL. http://www.Joes-smoky-sausages.com
#THREE: Eight great ways to increase your link popularity.
1) Build A Super Matrix of Linking Sites
A matrix is a series of sites that all link to each other and to your main site. The power in the matrix is that you control the content of each site and exactly how the links are set up. Instead of having one general site that covers many different keywords, separate each product or service you offer into "keyword groupings" that climb separately and independently from each other to the tops of the search engines.
It is much easier to get to the top with a tight focus than by having a more general site. Let's take a specific example of a web site that sells exotic birds, birdcages, birdseed, books on birds and also operates a veterinary clinic to treat tropical bird diseases. On the surface, it looks like the owner only needs one web site since each aspect of the business complements the others. The search engines, however, treat each part of this business as a completely separate entity.
The owner should have the main site and then build an expert site for exotic birds, another one for birdcages, another one for birdseed, etc. There is no limit to the number of expert sites that can and should be built... as long as they all "tie in" to the central theme.
Diagram of a Sample Matrix
The Concept: Build related expert sites that all link to the "mother site" and to each other. Each expert site covers its own niche based on a core set of keywords or a theme.
Size: Each of the sites will be about the same size. We suggest around five pages.
Design: Do NOT make one design and then copy it. Each site needs to be unique and have its own "personality."
Hosting: Host each site with a different ISP to further distinguish the sites from each other when the search engines are compiling their data.
Linking: Use the text linking strategies that we have discussed in this article with each URL (domain name) prominently featured on each of the other sites as a "great site for..."
Relevancy: Each site should have a different theme but yet each one is relevant to the others.
Separation: If you have a variety of services or products on your main web site now, consider how you can create a separate site for each one and then link them all together.
Submissions: Submit each site to all the search engines and directories as suggested below in 2,3,4, and 5.
2) Get listed in YAHOO!
Yahoo! Is such a popular site that once you get your site listed with them, it really increases your link popularity? That's because other search engines give a Yahoo, listing considerable weighting in their algorithms.
Be sure to use the Business Express submit gateway at Yahoo, because this is the fastest way to get listed. Always keep in mind that Yahoo can be a finicky directory to get listed in but it's worth the money. A good listing in Yahoo can provide your site with a significant amount of traffic (http://www.yahoo.com).
3) Get listed in EXCITE / LOOKSMART - use the paid inclusion program.
Just like Yahoo, other search engines believe that if you are listed in LookSmart, your site must be worthy of listing with them as well… and so listing with LookSmart will really boost your site's link popularity.
Submitting your site through the paid inclusion program will save you time because this one step submits your page to both Excite and LookSmart, which also supplies results to AltaVista, MSN, and iWon.
Their review/inclusion time frame is 48 hours, which means that they will review your site within 48 hours and, assuming it passes review, they'll include it in their directory (http://www.looksmart.com).
4) List your site in the TOP DIRECTORIES such as Open Directory Project (http://www.dmoz.org), which is free.
5) Submit your site to a PAY PER CLICK Search Engine Directory (http://www.eSuperFind.com).
6) Start an AFFILIATE PROGRAM.
Affiliates earn a commission when a visitor to their site clicks the link to your sales page and then makes a purchase. You could end up with 100's or even 1000's of virtual salespersons linking to your site. Best of all, you only pay them when the sale is closed.
When it comes to link popularity, starting your own affiliate program helps your site in two ways:
Number One: You will be adding site after site, which has links back to your website. Each link moves you a bit further up the search engine ladder.
Number Two: Assuming that you concentrate your recruitment efforts on related sites, then this factor moves you even higher. If you happen to land some major, heavy traffic sites in your field, their links back to you really gives your link popularity a boost.
7) Build up your links focusing on linking to similar high-traffic, quality sites ONE CONTACT AT A TIME.
*Start by visiting (http://www.directhit.com) and (http://www.about.com) to look for sites that serve the same audience that your site does but are not competitive, i.e. wedding caterers and wedding photographers serve the same market but do not compete.
*Contact the webmasters with a brief e-mail saying that you have visited their site, and see that you both share visitors with the same interests and that you would like to trade links to mutually benefit each other.
*Check who links to your competition and contact them, as well.
*When you send another site owner a link request or reciprocal linking offer, let him know what you would like your link to say. Suggest keywords in your link's description. Also, include a piece of HTML code in your e-mail.
8) Write articles
Become known as an expert in your field by writing articles that you post to your site and then submit them to other websites and e-zines for publication. Include hyperlinks back to your site embedded within the article or else include the links under your bio.
Now that you have other sites linking to you, SUBMIT THE OTHER WEB SITES pages with the links to your site to the search engines. Then you will not only have your site listed on the search engines but also the pages of other sites that refer to your site will be listed separately as well.
Two techniques NOT to use in increase link popularity.
1) There are many ways that are claimed to increase your website's popularity. The ones that seem too easy to be true such as free-for-all pages on sites can clog up your e-mail box very quickly with all the Spam e-mail you will get back.
Assuming you open up another e-mail account just to receive all this extra e-mail, that will be the least of your problems. Search engines will recognize your site has a lot of zero quality links that are completely irrelevant. Search engines don't like you spamming them with your free-for-all links and they will have the last laugh when they ban your site.
2) Another controversial way to artificially inflate the numbers of links to your site is to join exchange programs such as found on:
http://www.linkstoyou.com/ - html links.
http://www.linkme.com/ - others may come to your site and link without you even knowing.
Exchange programs are groups of webmasters who link their sites to each other for the express purpose of using link popularity to fool the search engines into giving their sites a higher ranking. Your site can look very unprofessional, very quickly if you have "visible" links covering your site. That's why some of the programs recommend that you make the link a one-pixel-square invisible GIF image.
*CAUTION*: If you do join a link exchange program, pick one that gives you the control to place your site in a related category. We do not recommend joining any of these programs because if a search engine figures out where all those links to your site came from, there is a possibility that they will ban your site.
Many of your potential customers are going to find their way to your site through search engines and hyperlinks… and that makes link popularity doubly important to drive new visitors to your site.
The link popularity strategies in this article will help you to pull in 1000's of additional pre-qualified (self-screened) POTENTIAL BUYERS to your site. It is important to use as many of the strategies we have outlined as possible. Each one will help you get a higher search engine ranking. The real power of these techniques is in using them in combination, not separately.
If you follow our matrix system, you will have not one but multiple streams of income. Unlike other strategies and tips in this article, this one is going to take considerable time to set up. Realistically, you could set up your super matrix and not see significant results for an entire year, but when the results start pouring in, you will be well rewarded for your efforts.
"Opportunities (and lost keys) are always found in the last place you look".