Website link popularity and PageRank - how to increase them and optimize the distribution of PageRank within your site.

Website Link Popularity

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Website link popularity is one of the criteria used by most of the major search engines when ranking websites. Theoretically, the number of inbound links for your website measures its general importance - the better your website link popularity, the higher it ranks.

This "off-page" statistic has grown in importance in the last years, becoming a significant factor at many engines. For example, Google is hesitant to list a site that doesn't have at least one link from other domain indicating that the site is worth listing in its index. In addition, if your website link popularity isn't high enough, you'll never achieve top rankings on many keywords.

Methods of increasing your website link popularity (from best to worst)

1) Submitting to directories

No links to your website are as important as links from the major directories like like Yahoo! and Open Directory. Also, you should submit your site to as many of the smaller directories that are specific to your area of interest, as possible. See Web Directories for more information.

2) Providing useful information

If your site provides useful information and/or services, other sites will link to your site without you even having to ask them for it.

3) Starting your own affiliate program

This method can be the ideal way to improve your website link popularity as well as your traffic. Keep in mind that in order to increase your link popularity, the affiliate links to your site must point directly to a real page on your site, not through a tracking script.

Here's a little trick that can increase your website link popularity even if you're using ClickBank, Commission Junction or other third-party affiliate processing system.
For example, if you use ClickBank, the affiliate link looks like this...
http://hop.clickbank.net/?AffilCode/YourClickbankId
But if you add a few lines of Javascript to your website...

<script type="text/javascript">
var pos = location.href.indexOf("#");
if( pos > 0 ) location.href = "http://hop.clickbank.net/?" + location.href.substring(pos+1) + "/YourClickbankId";
</script>

you can give your affiliates the following link...
http://www.YourDomain.com/#AffilCode
It's simply your website, followed by a number sign and affiliate ID. (Search engines ignore the number sign and anything after it.) When someone clicks that link, they'll come to your site, and then will be redirected to the appropriate ClickBank link. The same principle will apply to any other affiliate processing system.

4) Writing articles

Website and ezine owners are constantly looking out for articles, tutorials and other content they can use. Writing articles is one of the most powerful ways to increase your website link popularity. All you need to do is allow people to republish your articles for free, as long as they include your resource box containing details of your website.

5) Posting to message boards and blogs

This is another effective method of increasing the link popularity of your site. At the end of every message that you post, you can use your signature. However, make sure that your links don't contain the "rel=nofollow" attribute, otherwise, the search engines may not count them.

Here's a nice free tool that helps you find on-topic blogs that don't use "nofollow" so the links you get from leaving comments count towards your link popularity and PageRank scores: Real Link Finder.

6) Cross linking Your Websites

If you have several domains on related topics, you can interlink them all. However, you need to be careful if you host them with the same hosting company (the same IP) - some search engines might consider this spamming.

7) Exchanging links with other webmasters

This is the most popular way of increasing your website link popularity - two webmasters simply agree to add a link to each other's site to their sites.

Finding link partners:
Find a top-ranked site that uses the same keywords that your site uses. Most likely it has a Links page with dozens, even hundreds, of reciprocal links. Copy these links along with their descriptions to your own Links page. Then, send a polite email to webmasters of these sites, introduce your site, tell them that you have already added a link to their sites from yours, and then ask them whether they would be kind enough to add a link to your site (include your Title and Description).

The response rate to these emails is low, especially if your site is new and doesn't get a lot of traffic. After a couple of weeks, remove the links to those sites which haven't responded and try to locate more sites with which to exchange links. It's a good idea to submit all URLs that link to your site to search engines, just to be sure that they know about them.

For more efficient way of finding quality link partners see SiteSell Value Exchange.

8) Joining reciprocal link services

Several products exist which allow webmasters to automatically manage their links pages. However, keep in mind that search engines don't like programs designed to artificially boost link popularity. The more your reciprocal links look like an artificial attempt to increase website link popularity (instead of providing an additional source of information to your visitors), the more likely search engines will ignore, or possibly even punish your site's ranking.

9) Submitting your site to Free For All (FFA) pages

Don't submit your site to thousands of FFA pages. The primary purpose of FFA sites is to collect email addresses from people like you so they can send you junk mail. The realistic outcome of them is not more traffic to your website, but to your email box. For more details on how the FFA sites work, see Collection of Free Search Engines.


See Tools: Advanced Web Search for a simple website link popularity reporting tool.

Google PageRank

Google is now the most popular search engine because of high performance and high quality of search results compared to other search engines. This quality of search results is based on PageRank, a sophisticated method to rank web pages.

Contrary to the concept of link popularity, PageRank is not simply based upon the total number of inbound links. The basic approach of PageRank is that the rank of a page is given by the rank of those pages which link to it. Their rank again is given by the rank of pages which link to them. So, the PageRank of a page is always determined recursively by the PageRank of other pages and is, in the end, based on the linking structure of the whole Web.

The PageRank algorithm is rather complicated, but here are the basic recommendations how to optimize the PageRank for your site...

1) Inbound external links

When looking for links to your site, don't just choose high PageRanked sites as your main linking strategy. The PageRank benefit by an external link depends on the PageRank of the links page and on how many other links it has. For example, a link from a page with low PageRank might be better than a link from a page with high PageRank if there are less total links on the first page.

Get links from sites that are relevant to your site and have good quality, regardless of their current PageRank. If they are high quality sites, they will either boost your PageRank now, or will do so in the future. Try to get listed in Open Directory and Yahoo! since they they provide the artificially enhanced PageRank.

2) Outbound external links

Don't place external links on the pages that other sites are linked to (for example, your home page). To give away as little PageRank as possible, place outbound external links on pages which have low PageRank and a lot of links to pages on your site.

3) Internal navigational structure

PageRank is passed from page to page depending on the link structure of your website. You can direct more PageRank to your most important pages by adding links to them from less important pages that you don't need to rank highly. For example, you can increase the PageRank of a particular page by linking to it from many (or even all) pages within your site.

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