It all began with Google and now most major search engines use link popularity as an important ranking criterion. At Google, they call it PageRank (PR), which has been its hallmark since 1998. PR evaluates Web structure through link analysis to determine relevancy. It's an algorithm factor that gives higher rankings to sites with many strong, quality links leading to their pages. Such sites are deemed to be highly relevant because of all the incoming links.
To quote Google software engineer Matt Cutts, "Google's PageRank search technology works by first identifying the link structure of the entire Web, then ranking individual pages based on the number and importance of pages linked to them." Note that the popularity and relevance of the backlinks are more critical than their number.
Linking no sooner became the rage than people began to look for short-cuts to link popularity. But there's a right and a wrong way to create backlinks, and short-cuts can get you in trouble. One of these short-cuts was the creation of link farm services that provide hundreds of irrelevant links. Google calls this spamming and will remove sites associated with link farms from its index. Other engines also hate spamming and will do the same.
How do you define a link farm? It's a network of sites that link to other sites for the sole purpose of increasing their PR score or link popularity. You get hundreds of links to your site from totally unrelated sites and in return, you must link to hundreds of other unrelated sites. This is counterproductive because you need to link to related information to provide value to your customers. In fact, if they're sent to unrelated topics they'll probably abandon your site because this is frustrating.
So how can you build link popularity the right way? You need to link to information that expands your customers' knowledge in topics related to your business and of interest to them. There's no short-cut for doing this, it takes due diligence. Below are five tips for getting started on the road to link popularity.
Five Tips for Improving Link Popularity
Another way to do this is to identify a well-established site with good content that targets the same audience you want to reach (non-competitive, of course). Then perform a link analysis from that site, noting the incoming links and soliciting those sites.
In conclusion, this is an important SEO strategy and one of the best ways to improve your visibility and rankings. So you want to do it the right way.
Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for strategizing and implementing search engine marketing activities within Red Door's Internet Presence Management (IPM) services.
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