Home » News & Updates » Link Popularity and Pagerank

For years, “link popularity” and “Google PageRank” have been the talk of the town in the search engine optimization community. However, the definition of link popularity and how it differs from PageRank (PR), as well as how much effect these actually have on search engine rankings, is often misunderstood.

What is Link Popularity?

For search engines, if other sites are linking to your site, it must be a winner; therefore, it deserves a boost in rankings (when all else is equal). If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. People link to good sites, not bad ones.

PageRank Does Not Equal Link Popularity

google-pagerank-link-popularityIt’s important to note that Google PageRank is not the same thing as link popularity. PR is actually a subset of link popularity. Whereas PR focuses strictly on the quantity and popularity of links, link popularity adds a “quality factor” into the equation. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly use the terms “link popularity” and “PageRank ” interchangeably, which has served to confuse the issue further.

All major search engines place some emphasis on link popularity in their ranking algorithms. There appear to be 2 main types of links that work best to increase your link popularity: links from other sites that focus on the same keyword phrases your site focuses on, and links from relevant authority websites and industry-specific portals. “Free-for-all” (FFA) sites do not constitute quality links, so don’t waste your $24.95 submitting your site to 500 of them. Links from sites that focus on topics that have nothing to do with your site probably won’t help you win any link popularity contests, either (although they may temporarily boost your PR).

How Does Link Popularity Work?

Here’s an example of how I believe link popularity works:

Let’s say that Bob’s Pizza Palace Website has a link to Joe’s Men’s Clothing store site. If the link uses the keywords “men’s clothing store” in the anchor text (the clickable part), it may help Joe’s link popularity a little bit for those keywords. However, Joe would benefit a lot more if the same link came from a site that was more related to Joe’s site than a pizza palace. For instance, a more related link might be from a woman’s clothing store, a men’s shoe store or any other type of store that relates to clothing in some way.

An even higher-quality link for Joe might be from “Amazon.com,” which is counted as a related authority website. That is exactly the kind of link that the search engines would want to credit toward link popularity. Again, the key is in having that common thread between the sites.

Should I Care About Link Popularity?

In general, there’s no need for the average site to obsess over link popularity. Yes, you’ll want to keep it in mind, and yes you should make sure that your site is what I like to call “link-worthy.” However, from my experience (and contrary to popular belief), link popularity constitutes only a portion of most search engines’ ranking algorithms. Arguably, Google places more emphasis than most other engines on incoming links at this point in time. How much these actually boost a site’s ranking is debatable and truly depends on the site. It also depends on the words that are placed in the anchor text. I have found that just a few highly relevant links with strong anchor text can go a long way towards link popularity for many sites.

How To Get Linked Without Even Trying

My favorite way to get links (but the most time-consuming) is to simply have the best site on the Internet in your specific niche. Interestingly enough, if your site is well written, provides tons of useful information and is constantly updated, you often won’t have to seek out links at all. Other sites will link to yours of their own volition.


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