Link popularity, often called “link pop,” can be a tricky thing. In the good old days, search engines determined a site’s page ranking by the number of times the keywords appeared in the text. Soon webmasters learned that if they squeezed an obnoxious amount of keywords into their site’s text, the site would eventually gain a very high page ranking.
Since search engines like Google gain users by providing quality webpage matches, they had to get smarter than the web developers. Google decided that instead of keyword match-ups only, page ranking would also be based on pages that had the most links to them. In theory, a website that has a bunch of other pages linking to it must be good, right? Wrong.
Webmasters would create these links any way that they could. “Link Farms” began developing and cluttering up the web. A link farm is essentially a page with a gazillion links on it, often in no particular order. These pages were virtually useless to web users, yet web designers were using them to gain better page rankings.
The fact is that search engines aren’t designed for web developers. They are designed for web users. Thus, when the “best” sites weren’t showing up first, Google had to try yet another strategy.
This time links would be categorized. The best kind of link is an “Inbound Link“. An Inbound Link means another site connects to your site. This usually happens because the webmaster of the site feels that the information on your site is valuable to his or her readers. Your page ranking will improve noticeably if the website has a higher page ranking than yours and if there is obvious relevance between the two sites.
An “Outbound Link” means that your site offers a link to another site. Outbound links don’t hurt your popularity if they are relevant sites, but it is better to limit your outbound links to your absolute favorites. It is always better to have more inbound links than outbound ones.
Then we have “Reciprocal” and “Non-Reciprocal” links. A reciprocal link means that two sites connect to each other. A non-reciprocal link is a one-way link. Search engines are able to tell the difference between reciprocal and non-reciprocal links. Obviously non-reciprocal links are more credible because there is no direct benefit to the linker, and will thus increase your link popularity.
In order to create “link pop,” you should focus on creating as many inbound non-reciprocal links as possible. One of the best ways to do this is through link directories. Essentially, a link directory provides users with a collection of links organized by topic. There are thousands of directories to choose from. DMOZ and Yahoo! are the most heavily weighted.
Directories exist solely to provide users with valuable resources. They are edited and organized by humans, so appearing in a directory can be a measure of a site’s worth. If your website is listed, it is viewed by users as a credible source.
Get your link on as many directories as you can! There are two benefits. It will generate targeted traffic to your site, and it can improve your page ranking. When choosing a directory, look for the ones that allow you to add your own title and/or keywords. Choose directories that have less than 50 listings per page, and make sure the addition can improve your page ranking.
The submission process can be frustrating and time-consuming. The upside is, once your link is posted your “link pop” can shoot through the roof.