Link Popularity Enhancement
When Google popularized the concept of ranking sites based partly on their link popularity, the logic was that the most deserving sites would naturally have the most quality links to them. Essentially, any site could be optimized for a certain keyword phrase, but unless other sites validated this page by linking to it, it would not rank highly. Of course, all of the major search engines have followed Google's lead and now utilize some form of link popularity as a factor in ranking sites. As such, improving a site's link popularity is a very important part of a search engine marketing campaign and often an activity that needs to be proactively managed. This, of course, leads marketers to the question, "How does one improve link popularity?"
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Advertising, sponsorships, and public relations work can all help increase a site's link popularity and generate more exposure for a site. At Captiva, our process for improving link popularity can vary greatly from client to client, but it often takes on the following structure.
Potential Link Identification
The first step in the link enhancement process is identifying potential link opportunities. In this process we manually check the "backlinks" for competitive sites that are ranking well for your desired terms. Specifically, we enter your key search phrases, click on the top ranking sites, and then review who is linking to them and why. After doing this for a number of phrases, we will have a pretty good feel for where the best link opportunities lie. Once complete, this information is presented to the client for review. Common link opportunities include:
- Specialty Directories - In addition to major online directories like Yahoo, the Open Directory and Business.com, there are typically directories, vertical search engines or buyers' guides for every major industry that provide online listings and links.
- Partners - Many companies have partners in distributors, sales agents and key suppliers who may link to their site.
- Complementary Sites - Other sites that don't compete with you but sell to your same target market are often interested in sharing traffic through a process called reciprocal linking.
- Advertising and Sponsorships - Many sites get link popularity from ads that they run or sites, events, or organizations that they sponsor.
- Online PR - Link building programs can be integrated with standard public relations or through the use of PRWeb™, PR Newswire or others to gain exposure in online media. Read more about our online PR services.
Having identified potential link partners, the next step is to request, purchase, or exchange links. In an ideal world, every site would want to link to your site simply because it was informative, helpful, and useful to their readers. In reality, links often need to be purchased or exchanged.
Specialty directories will often list qualified sites for free because they are looking to provide good content and attract more visitors to their own sites. They typically save the top spots for advertisers, but many directories can still provide some link popularity. Also, distributors, agents, and suppliers will often link to your site for free as they stand to benefit from your success. Your PR work can also provide free links in that some publishers will be interested in your informative articles and press releases.
For most sites, there are often numerous "on topic" sites that will sell them ad space or listings. The key is in prioritizing these based on:
- The quantity and quality of visitors they will generate for your site.
- The link popularity they will pass to your site.
- The cost.
Keep in mind that many sites that sell ads or listings offer absolutely no link popularity transfer. The links often show up on pages buried deep in their site or are redirected through CGI scripts that limit the movement of the search engine spiders.
Complementary sites, partners, and directories are often willing to exchange links in order to improve their own site's link popularity. This is a very gray area of search engine optimization and must be done carefully to avoid joining "link farms" or "link exchange programs" that are frowned upon by the search engines. Your Captiva account manager will help execute this part of your program.
Education & Support
As part of our program, we also advise clients on how to best structure their linking campaign (to complement their on-page optimization) and run their ongoing link building efforts in a professional manner.