Link Popularity: Influencing Factors &
What is Link Popularity?
In simple terms, it refers to the “weighted value” of the
combined number of inbound links received by a particular web
page from other web pages as an indicator of page importance.
A web page is deemed more important when many other pages link
to it. In a sense, a link is a “vote” cast by a page for
another page. But votes are not equal. A vote from a page that
itself enjoys “high link popularity” transfers a greater
weighted value than a page with lower link popularity.
It is a component of search engine ranking
algorithms that when combined with on-page optimization
factors will influence ranking position in the search results.
When links are reinforced with prominence to the user and
relevant relationship to the receiving page, they have a
greater influence on ranking potential.
In detailed concept, link popularity is
measured by a complex set of mathematical calculations to
determine weighted values of incoming links that are not only
based upon “page importance” but “link reputation” as well
which is the contextual relationship of the linked pages. This
particular article deals primarily with the practical
implementation of linking factors that impact higher search
engine ranking potential.
The content of this article represents my own
opinion and interpretation of the link popularity concept.
However it is based upon objective discovery and the
assumption that link popularity is primarily a
relevancy-driven concept knowing that all search engine
ranking criteria is premised upon satisfying relevant results
to a particular search query.
Importance of Link Reputation
“Link reputation” refers to the relevant relationship of a
linking page to the receiving page. What a web page says about
another page is more important than the link itself. Assuming
that relevancy is the pillar foundation of search engine
ranking criteria, a relevant link would more strongly
influence ranking potential versus a non-relevant link.
Theory is that search engines compute a
“relevancy score” based upon measurement of specific on-page
factors. That score is combined with link popularity to
determine what I call “relevant popularity”. It is likely that
the two scores are multiplied rather than added, otherwise
non-relevant links could provide greater influence than
relevant links. On that premise, relevance would be rewarded
more than link popularity itself.
Relevancy is measured by comparing words at
strategic locations including html content, page title tags,
meta descriptions, alt-tags and words used in “anchor text”
which is the linking point. Keywords that support mutual
relevancy between the linking page and the receiving page
become the comparative value. Always remember: the stronger
the relationship, the greater the value.
To introduce a new term, “relevant popularity”. It
represents the combined effect that link popularity, link
reputation and on-page relevancy has on determining ranking
position to a search query. Although search engines employ
many, many algorithmic components, those three areas have the
greatest impact on search engine positioning.
All are intertwined and are measured against all pages in a
particular search engine’s index that compete for a similar
set of targeted keywords. Link popularity relates to page
importance. Link reputation is more about what a web page says
about another. On-page context is what a page says about
itself. And relevancy is at the center-core of the evaluation
factors. This is where we get the term, “relevant popularity”.
Many SEOs disagree on the level of influence
that link popularity has on ranking. In my opinion, it depends
on the degree of competitiveness of particular search words.
But generally all SEOs agree that keywords contained within
“anchor text” have a profound effect on ranking position.
However, anchor text transfer value cannot exist without an
incoming link. Therefore whether link popularity is a
meaningful factor or not, links are essential to establishing
A general pattern of search engine results
indicates that link popularity carries a greater role when
targeting high competitive keywords. And the more competitive
keywords become, the more crucial link reputation becomes.
This gives greater ranking value to areas that are more
difficult for a webmaster to control such as the easy path of
overzealous repetition of keywords within on-page factors.
Link Popularity Weighting Factors:
Every indexed web page is given a link popularity score
that can continue to enlarge as links are accumulated. No
matter how marginal, almost any link will transfer some degree
of value. But there are additional weighting factors that make
some links substantially more influential.
The visibility and prominence of a link to a
user adds influence since it implies that a user clicks on
links with purpose and interest. Links within text that leads
a user to additional related information would carry greater
value than an obscure link with little visibility.
The number of outbound links on a linking page
effects the transfer of link popularity because the transfer
value is divided by the number of outgoing links. Therefore,
the fewer the links the greater the concentration of transfer
Keywords used in “anchor text” that describe
what a user will find at destination are significantly
important to ranking potential. The more relevant the content
of the linking page to the receiving page, the better. Common
keywords that exist in html content, page title tags, meta
descriptions and meta keywords are measured factors.
The degree of webmaster control where a
webmaster could artificially inflate the measured factors is
considered in the weighted values. For example, internal links
likely have less transfer value than external inbound links.
Links between sites that reside on the same server and links
among affiliated and commonly-owned websites are also likely
areas of search engine spam. Remember: the “greater the
distance” between linking sites, the greater the weighted
value of the link.
Outbound links “drain link popularity” of the
linking page, but should not be a meaningful concern because
relevant outgoing links creates a greater offsetting
advantage. Outbound links are an indication of web page
quality and authority. Any drain on link popularity resulting
from outbound links can be mitigated by simply adding more
internal web pages. The size of a website is an influencing
factor. The more pages a website has, the greater the benefit
of transferring inbound link value to all internal pages which
enhances the ranking potential of those internal pages to a
broader range of search terms.
Accumulating Link Partners
Building link popularity is a time-consuming process that
requires a dedicated effort of implementing an effective link
campaign strategy. Although prominent rankings can be attained
without strong link popularity for narrow non-competitive
terms, a sound linking strategy is essential if you expect
higher rankings for high volume competitive search terms.
No one knows how many quality links it would
take to dominate search engine visibility because there are
too many mitigating factors. Therefore the best strategy is
seeking the most influential links, get as many as you can and
make it an ongoing process to ensure a competitive advantage.
Natural, unsolicited links are the best kind.
Rich informative content which provides value to your audience
will attract unsolicited links from other websites. One-way
(non-reciprocal) links from quality relevant web pages
contribute strong value.
Links from topic specific and niche directory
categories. Directories provide one-way link advantage. Some
accept free submissions. Others are fee-based. Among the most
popular directories are the Open Directory Project, Yahoo, Joe
Ant, Go Guides, About.com and Zend. Perform web searches for
other generated web directories and those specific to your
industry for other directory options.
Write articles and grant republishing rights.
There are many webmasters seeking articles that provide
informative value. Granting republishing rights conditional
upon linking back to your website is a great way to accumulate
one-directional links and to promote yourself as an industry
Contact your vendors. As a return favor for
your business, request links from your suppliers’ websites.
Post to industry related forums and user
groups. Take advantage by including links to your site with
Request reciprocal links. Contact webmasters
of compatible websites and request link exchanges for mutual
For long-term success, do not participate in
linking schemes that are only purposed to artificially inflate
link popularity. The way to approach linking is as a strategy
of attracting lead referrals from other websites. Spend your
time focusing on building links from sites that offer the
greatest benefit to ranking potential. And if you want to
solidify a competitive advantage, make link building a
Mr. E. Studios
1018 E. McKinley Ave.
Fresno, CA 93728
Telephone: (559) 375-4544