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Improving your site's link popularity, and search engine ranking

By Donald Nelson
Posted Monday, October 18, 2004

Have you ever wondered why one web site (maybe yours) is buried deep in the search rankings for a particular keyword, while another site (your competitor's) is at the top? Both sites may have similar content and even similar metatags, but one is number one and the other is number 131.

The answer to this disparity may lie in a factor known as link popularity. When search engines determine rankings, many things are taken into consideration and one of them is how many sites are linked to your site. The quantity and the quality of these incoming links is weighed heavily by some search engines, such as Google. If many sites are linked to yours, your site is considered to be an important resource in that particular field and that is why the search engines would like to give such a site a high ranking. Also if the links to your site are coming from “important" or high ranked sites, then your web site is considered still more important.

In this factor of link popularity, new sites are somewhat at a disadvantage as older sites have been around a while and have acquired more links over the years. However, with a bit of “elbow grease" (sustained effort) it is possible to boost your site's link popularity and position in search engine results.

One of the first things that should be done is to submit your site to the Open Web Directory (www.dmoz.org). By doing this you will get one link! But a listing in the Open Web Directory is considered to be an important link, because it comes from a very high-ranking source. It takes a while to be listed in this directory because the directory gets thousands of inclusion requests, and it uses volunteer editors to process them, but sites with good content and design generally get included. Similarly, a single listing in the Yahoo directory will also boosts your site's ranking, but this will cost you $299. So if you have a big advertising budget, a paid listing in Yahoo is an option worth considering.

How can you determine what is a high-ranking site—one which will help your own search engine rank if it links to you? Go to the main page of Google and download the Google Toolbar. It will install itself on your web browser. Everytime you visit a web site, look at the Google Toolbar and it will show a section called, Page Ranking. If you see a grey bar, it means the site is not included in Google's index. If the bar is all white or has green, then pt your mouse over the bar and you will see a page ranking number on a scale from 0-10. Yahoo has a 10 ranking, while a new site with no links to it may be 0. Average sites are usually 5-6, while very good sites have rankings of 7-9. If any of these high-ranking sites link to you then your own ranking will improve. (The Google toolbar has some other features that make it important in helping you to improve link popularity, which I will discuss in the next article.)

Another measure of a site's importance can be found at (www.alexa.com) . This search engine gives traffic rankings of many of the sites on the Internet. If your site has a rank of 30,000, for example, then you are doing very well, because millions of sites are included in the total survey. The Alexa search engine also gives valuable information about various sites, including the number of other sites that link to it, when the site was founded, contact information about the owner, and reader reviews.

So, the things to do if you want to improve your position in search results on popular search engines are 1. to get listed in important directories and 2. to launch a systematic campaign to improve the quantity and quality of incoming links to your website.

About the Author
Donald Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has been working on the Internet since 1995. He is currently the director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com) a firm providing search engine optimization and Internet marketing services. He can be reached at support@a1-optimization.com