Being the gateway to the Internet is not the only purpose that search engines serve. Search engines are also the first tool that potential customers use to find the products, services, and information they need on the internet.


For this reason, link popularity is very imperative. Heres why: If customers do not find your website, your chances of maximizing your online sales are slim to none.


Id bet you are wondering what is the importance of the popularity of a link! Heres your one word answer -plenty-! Link popularity refers to the ranking assigned to your website by the search engines, and it determines the ranking your page gets when keywords are entered into a search engine. So, I am sure you are next question would probably be Well, how do I make my link popular?


Good question. Search engines are discretionary, giving status and ranking to sites that have links to their pages from related, quality sites. It’s a really simple formula, but a very important one. Google created the system, and now virtually all the most popular search engines employ the same formula to rank your web pages in their indexes.


The more commonly used your keyword is, the harder it will be to achieve link popularity. Without achieving this very important step, it is almost certain your site wont ever rank highly on any search engine. However, before you get discouraged, consider the fact that there are tried and true ways of achieving link popularity using only the most competitive keywords.


There are a few things to keep in mind. Link popularity is not achieved by just linking up with a large number of other websites. In fact, it may backfire and have quite the opposite effect.


Most typically this is true when pertaining to websites that contain line after line of indiscriminate links, or “link farms”. It has been the tendency of search engines to aggressively discriminate against your website if you are associated with a link farm, so stay away from them!


The next thing to consider is the quality of the site you are linking to. Do not ever link to a page that you would have reservations about your visitors seeing. That would make your site look cheap and indiscriminate, which I do not think would be the look to go for. Linking to sites of poor quality not only fail to increase your link popularity, it may just destroy it altogether.


So let’s get right to it. Lets discuss what you need to do to achieve supreme link popularity and improve your rankings to stellar status on all the popular search engines.


The first step, and the fastest way to get your foot in the door, is to get a listing in a popular directory, such as Open Directory Project and Yahoo. If your site is business-related, you will want to be listed on Yahoo, and despite the fact that it will cost you around $300 a year, it will be money well spent, and you most assuredly wont regret it.


The listing is free if your site is noncommercial, but it takes time and follow-up to actually get it listed. Open Directory is another popular director. It gives you a free listing whether you are business-related or non-commercial. However, be prepared to make a lot of follow-up inquiries before you see your site listed.


Getting listed on the lightest level of appropriate category takes some common sense. Heres what I mean: Lets say your company ships Alpaca wool from an Alpaca farm located in the middle of Nowhere, Tiny State. Do NOT submit your listing to “Retailers from Nowhere, Tiny State.” HUGE MISTAKE!


You have to look a little deeper and think a little bigger. You would submit your listing to the “Fine Alpaca Wool” category. This is doubly effective because not only will you associate yourself with culture and quality, but you will also be listed in a national category.


The next step after having attained directory listings, is to locate other quality sites that will increase your link popularity and link with them. Finding quality sites that are in some way related to yours increases your link popularity in addition to expanding your customer base. Of course you want to avoid your competitors and look for sites that are useful to your site’s visitors.


Let’s look at the Alpaca Wool site example again. Linking up to a site that sells knitting supplies would be helpful to your visitors, and the chances of the knitting supply site wanting to link up to your site are also greater.


As a result of your linking to a related site thats relevant to your web site’s traffic, you are increasing both companies site’s business prospects – and both companies sites’ link popularity. Teamwork makes the dream work.


Before we all break out and sing We Are The World, lets keep in mind that not all sites want to link to other sites. Proper research is necessary when you are looking for possible linking partners, and theres no better place than Google to start your search. Make sure you enter keywords that you think quality customers will also enter to find your site.


Also remember your criteria are: quality, highly ranked, non-competing websites that have a links or resources page. Go to these sites and objectively assess them. Look at the level of quality of the product, the graphics, and the ease of use. Then check out the other sites they are linked to, and determine how well or if your own site would fit in with the crowd.


Not unlike dating, when you decide you have found a good prospect, you must set out to woo them. The first thing to do is to add a link on your own links page to their site. This is a very important first step; it not only shows good faith, but it also ups your chances significantly of their reciprocity.


After adding their link, contact the webmaster of their site. This is almost always done by email, so you want to make sure it is immediately clear that your message is not junk mail (EVERYBODY hates junk mail). With this in mind, there is a requirement that you tell them right off the bat that you have added a link to their page on your site. A hook like this almost always insures the reader will read on.


Again, not unlike dating, be sure to be flattering and let them know how much you appreciate their website. Emphasize that you have actually visited their site, and that time and consideration went into your picking their site. Give them the address of your links page, and ask them to check out the link for themselves.


Be sure to mention that they will not only benefit from the increased traffic your website will direct their way, but you will also increase their link popularity. Briefly, explain why link popularity is so essential, but do this in a sentence or two or you will come off like a professor! Finally, tell them reciprocally adding your link on their own website would be as appreciated as it would be mutually beneficial.


Repeat this process with as many appropriate sites as you can find, bearing in mind the criteria of quality and non-competitiveness. After emailing all relevant sites, remember to check these website frequently to see if they have added a link to your page. Give it about four weeks, and if no link appears, try another charming email.


Then give it another four weeks, and if your site is still missing from their links page, it’s time to remove their link from your own links page. The only time you want to pursue a link any further than this is if you believe a site is absolutely crucial to your link popularity and your business needs. Remember to keep all your communications professional, complimentary, and cordial.


Set up a consistent schedule to check your ranking in the search engines to see if your link popularity has improved. This is not an over-night process. Just like anything else worth having, it will take some time and a good deal of work. There is no escaping the labor-intensive quality of improving your link popularity, which is why search engines regard it with such importance, and so should you.


I thought this might go without saying, but to be on the safe side – make sure you have a beautiful, streamlined site or you will never persuade anyone to link up to you. Just as you would not link up with a bad looking or poor quality site. Considering that in most cases nothing worth having comes easy, be prepared to keep plugging away at this process until you reach your goals.

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