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The PR Pundit: Link popularity
by Eric Ward, President of

Question: What Is link popularity and why does it matter?

Eric Ward's response:
The simplest definition is that link popularity is the number of other Web sites that have links on them to your Web site. Things are never simple, though. Link popularity is a fairly new-technique that several search engines are using to help rank sites for searchers.

This form of 'popularity' measurement assumes that sites having many links pointing to them must be 'better' than sites that have few links pointing to them. This is all part of a new approach to evaluating good web sites called 'off-site' criteria. Previously, search engines only looked at 'on-site' criteria when ranking search results, i.e. - a site's HTML text and tags.

Web marketers have forever been trying to trick search engines into ranking pages higher for certain search terms, using techniques that the search engine tech folks despise. So, by instead analyzing other sites for links, the engines hope to factor out search engine tricksters.

Link popularity and analysis is comprised of factors such as:

Link Penetration - Raw number of sites linking to your site.

Link Quality - A link from Yahoo is given a high rating while a link from Earl's LinkFarm is given little or none at all. This factors out useless free-for-all links pages.

Topical Cross-linking - Sites that focus on the same vertical (narrow) topic tend to link to each other.

From an advertising or marketing standpoint, link popularity means you should be:

1). Make sure your site is linked at topical portals, search engines, and directories.

2). Exchanging links with sites that have similar subject matter as your site. (this does not mean affiliate marketing, but simple plain HTML links.)

Regardless of whether or not the search engines continue using off-site methods for determining relevancy, you will be building a large network of inbound links that will be there for you 365 days a year. If this helps your search rankings, fine, and even if it doesn't, the network of links will bring you traffic by itself.

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