What is Link Popularity?

Link popularity is used by a number of search engines to help measure the 'weight' of a website. Weight can be measured by the number and quality of other web sites that link to yours. Link popularity is an essential part of any search engine optimization strategy. Good quality links are necessary to achieve high search engine rankings, as they are an important factor that the search engines look for in reviewing a web site. If everything else about a website is perfectly optimized, the website still may not show up at all, or will lag behind other, less valuable websites, if it has no incoming links.

Developing link popularity for a website is a sound investment in the future of its search engine positioning and placement. We have put together a short page to help you understand what relevant reciprocal links are. This page of the website will help you, the website operator, understand how to add support to this area of search engine optimization, to build reciprocal links, and to increase your link polarity. Be forewarned however, it will be a lengthy process, and is only one part of the search engine optimization / SEO service offered by Metamend.

How Can A Web Site Increase Its Link Popularity?

A structured, well-planned linking campaign is the best way to develop and maintain the link popularity of a website. It involves contacting other website owners or webmasters directly, and requesting that they create a link back to you. Successful link campaigns are time-consuming and tedious, but they will have a positive effect on your search engine rankings.

Some of the criteria we suggest you follow when building links for your website are:
  • Ensure that the links you receive are relevant to your content in some way.
  • Make sure that these are permanent links, and not short term.
  • Ensure that you can control link text - what is said about your website.
  • Ensure that the website you are linking with is reputable. Their reputation may affect yours.
  • Regularly check that the links to and from your website still work.
  • Link from your links page to the other party's top page, and vice versa.

The Steps to Search Engine Success

Step 1 - Content is King
Don't expect anyone to link to your website just because you ask them to. Make sure you have good, valuable content. The person you are asking will probably take a look at your website, and will know that whatever website they link to will reflect back on them, as some type of endorsement. Give them something to work with, and something that they believe their visitors will want to see.

Step 2 - Your Online Community
When you begin, you need to find an "online community" - These are other sites that offer information, products or services that in some way relate to your web site. This may be very easy - a lawyers office relates to almost anyone, or it may be very difficult; A reseller of cylume sticks has a narrow market, and their website will probably have a fairly limited community. But that's alright. Having quality over quantity is important. This is true of search engine optimization, and of most things in life.

There are a few things that you can do to find your online community:

Industry Associations
If you belong to an industry with its own association(s), check out the association's website(s). Small communities may have only one association for the whole world, whereas a large one will have many, specialized associations. Check them all out. They may have a list of members available. Start your search with this list, but be careful, you will probably meet your competitors along the way. If they are not direct competitors, they may want to exchange links.

Online groups and forums
Newsgroups, bulletin boards, forums, and discussion sites are all places you will find people from within your industry gathering. Go find the groups your website belongs to, you'll find lots of other website operators who may want to link to your website.
Step 3 - Know Your Competition
This should be the easiest step in the whole process. You should have already done it prior to building your online presence, or mapping out your strategy (Link to Strategy). You probably have had to identify your competition, and determine what does and will continue to set you apart when you were writing a business plan. If you didn't, you had better start now. It's never too late to learn something new...

While more often than not, you won't want to contact your competitors for reciprocal links, although there are some exceptions. There are some websites (mostly informational sites however) that will gladly link to their competition. Also specialty sites will sometimes link to competitors. If your website carries the best selection of children's books, you might link to a more generic book website, even if it sells some children's books.

Here's a hint that may work for you: Contact the companies that your competitors link to. Often the links are not exclusive, so that company will link to both your website, and your competitors'. Use the search engines to find all your visible competitors. While you are there take a minute and see how much effort they have put into search engine optimization.

Step 4 - Evaluating Sites For Their Potential
Not every website operator you approach will give you a link, or will even answer your request. While you are more likely to have success with website operators whose focus is similar to yours, also remember that the more popular a website, the more spam the operator is likely to receive everyday. Make sure that you write a nice, simple email introducing yourself, and your website, and ask if they are interested. Leave the details for later. Write a follow-up letter if they do not respond - they may have missed your note the first time, or even the second. Lastly, don't be insulted or disheartened if they just say "No". Here are some tips to help you evaluate each website you're considering approaching:


  • Link popularity is not just about a large number of links. But they are a factor nonetheless. More important however, is the quality of sites that link to your website, and the accompanying description (link text) you both use when trading links. It will also help if the website that is linking to yours has content that is somehow related to the content on your website. For example a pet food store and a veterinarian can easily exchange relevant links.
  • Your Odds - If you are just starting off, what are the chances that Microsoft will give you a link? Probably very low. Don't waste your time.
  • Popularity of the WebSites That Link To Yours -With some search engines the value of the links vary depending in part on the link popularity of the sites linking to your website. To put it in simpler terms, a website that is highly ranked with relevant content to your website will give you more results than links from popular but irrelevant websites. Also, the better known a linking site is within your website's industry, the better the value of the link it can provide to your website.
Step 5 - WebSites You Probably Want To Skip
Some website operators are not worth contacting, simply because they probably won't give you a link, either because they are too busy, or too big.

Step 6 - What to expect
Despite your efforts, figure on spending at least 1.5 hours for every single potential link you research, identify and approach, because you may get very little response to your requests. Sometimes the other website operator will just choose to ignore your emails, and other times they will just miss it, which is why you should send a follow-up note after a few days. Some other website operators may put up a link to your website, but will forget to notify you that they have done so... Check before sending them a follow up. Don't get discouraged if only 1 person you contact in 10 responds or acts on your request. That's about normal. Figure on spending 10 to 15 hours per month on links creation.

Remember, building relevant reciprocal links is but one part of a search engine optimization, marketing, and promotion, strategy. A search engine optimization service or consultant like Metamend does this work everyday out on behalf of your website. This document just gives you some idea of the work that goes into it.