Posted Saturday, July 17, 2004
Remember the most popular kids in High School? Everyone wanted to be around them, date them or be friends with them. Being seen with the "in crowd" made you look good. Popularity has its advantages. Turn the clock forward a few years and throw in the Internet, and even though you might be long past your school days, being popular still has its perks.
What I'm referring to is called "Link Popularity," and if you don't have the faintest clue what I'm talking about, strap on your seatbelt -- we're going for a ride.
Link popularity is very important to your website and can give you an "edge" when it comes to ranking with the search engines. Oh, I see I have your attention now. Your site's link popularity is based on how many other "quality" related sites link to yours. It's based on incoming and outgoing links so don't overlook the fact of setting up your own "links page" to reciprocate a link to all of the websites who have agreed to link to yours.
The reason why search engines give sites with more links a higher rating is based on the logic that if other sites are linking to a site, it must contain valuable content. Thus you'll score a few extra points for being so popular and end up ranking higher.
What kind of sites should you link to, and how do you find them? Good questions. Most site owners' biggest fear is linking to their competitors. Not a great idea. Instead of looking at it that way, what you want to do is find "complementary" sites that will enrich your website while making it more of an informative resource. For example, say you have a landscaping /nursery site. You could link to sites that explain how to grow better flowers or shrubs, how to treat soil, tips and tricks of landscaping design, etc. All of these sites will enrich yours by providing more information on a subject your website guests are already interested in..
So how do you find link partners? The easiest place to start is with the search engines, by typing in keywords that relate to your site's theme and searching for complementary websites. You might want to check a site's page rank with Google before deciding if it will make a good linking partner. The experts say you should look for sites with a page rank of at least 2 or higher. Page rank can be checked with the Google toolbar.
Once you find some suitable partners, you'll want to email each site owner asking if they would be interested in swapping links with you. They may receive many such inquiries so you'll want to make yours stand out from the crowd by complimenting them on their site and telling them the benefit of linking to your site.
I'd strongly suggest you stay away from banner and button linking and use text links, for a few reasons. The biggest is if you can write a fun, interesting site description for yourself and use your key phrase in that description, it will also rank higher with the search engines. Remember this when sitting down to write up your link text for the exchange. Smart website owners know this and use it to their advantage.
If you would like automate the "link exchange process" there are software and services that will help speed up the process. Let's look at a few:
1) LinksManager: (http://LinksManager.com)
If you'd like to use a 3rd party service to automate the process and can afford 9.95 a month, LinksManager does a great job. No software to install and you can import your current links page easily. Offers a 30 day free trial.
2) LinkageExpress.com: (http://www.LinkagExpress.com)
If you don't want to do the job yourself you can pay this company to find link partners for you. Twenty-five link partners will cost you 97.00, and the prices go up from there.
3) Zeus: (http://www.Cyber-Robotics.com)
A software program that actually goes out and finds link partners for you. A demo version is available for free but the pro version will run you 95.00
4) Reciprocal Marketing:(http://www.ReciprocalMarketing.biz)
An outside service that handles finding and setting up reciprocal links for you. They only charge .00 per link.
5) Links 2.0:(http://www.gossamer-threads.com/scripts/links/index.htm)
Links is an easy-to-use Directory Management program. It allows you to run a complex link directory without being overwhelmed by editing and updating htm pages. You can download it for 50.00
6) Link Survey: (http://antssoft.com/linksurvey/index.htm?refchr)
Multi-purpose software that can compare inbound links of your website with those of your competitors, locate potential high-quality link partners of your website, and more. Buy it for 9.95 or download the free trial version.
7) Arelis (http://www.axandra.com/arelis/index.htm)
Software to automate the process of finding link partners also has a great "Find Competitor Links" feature that allows you to quickly find all Web sites that link to your competitors, and these are good candidates to have link to your site. Free trial version available.
So how popular are you? There are many ways to test your website's popularity right online without the expense of software. They all pretty much work the same way: Just enter your url and hit submit. Some of them are:
1) MarketLeap: (http://marketleap.com/publinkpop/)
2) I Need Hits(http://www.ineedhits.com/free/popularity/ )
3) AddMe (http://www.addme.com/popularity.htm)
4) Submit Corner (http://www.submitcorner.com/Tools/Assessment/)
5) Link Popularity (http://checkyourlinkpopularity.com/)
6) Market Position(http://linkpopularitycheck.com/)
If after checking your popularity you find out you're lacking in the "popular" department, you'll need to get busy with your research and start compiling a list of possible linking partners. Yes, it does take time, but the benefits of a good linking strategy are well worth it.
If you'd like to read more on link popularity check out some of these great sites:
1) Linking 101: (http://www.linking101.com/)
Plenty of good resources to help you with your link popularity.
2) Eric Ward: (http://ericward.com/articles/primer.html)
An excellent primer on linking.
3) Spider Food:(http://www.spider-food.net/link-popularity.html)
Excellent information on linking strategy.
4) Linking Matters: (http://linkingmatters.com/)
You'll find more information here than you'll know what to do with. Don't forget to download the 33-page PDF report for even more resources.
5) Axandra: (http://www.axandra.com/arelis/increase-link-popularity.htm)
A free ebook on linking especially geared towards those who are using Arelis Software.
Remember, "no man is an island," and that is especially true on the Internet. Make sure you're seeking out other quality,related sites and exchanging links with them on a continual basis. By doing so, you'll make your website a more valuable resource and increase your search engine ranking at the same time... and that's one "popular" marketing idea.
About the Author
Merle is an internet marketer, promotion consultant and ezine publisher. Visit her sites at (http://www.mcpromotions.com/), (http://www.merlesworld.com/) and (http://www.ezineadauction.com/).