After you’ve validated your web page’s code, content for search engines, is there anything else you can do to maximize your search engine ranking? Yes, there is. It’s known as “linkability” or “link popularity”.
Google and other modern search engines are now determining a website’s ranking using the theory that if everyone is talking about it, it must be good. Ah, the old word-of-mouth advertising method.
Using a combination of word frequency, matching meta tags and descriptions, search engines are now adding “link popularity” to their sifter. By checking to see what pages you link to, and, more importantly, who links to your site, they can tell how many people are “talking” about you, and the more the merrier.
But it doesn’t stop there. The software actually evaluates “who” is talking about you and whether or not they are a reliable “source”. After all, it isn’t just who is talking about you, it’s their reputation for saying things about others that comes into play. No different from the real world. If Aunt Sally is a gossip, and you can’t trust what she says, then you rarely take her seriously. But when Aunt Sue speaks, everyone listens, because they value her opinion and honesty. The key to gaining ground in the ranks is to not only get everyone talking about you, but to get the right people talking about you.
The premise of link popularity comes from the world of academia. If your thesis or paper is worthy of citation (others referencing it in their articles and papers), then it must have value. Therefore, if your site has value within its content, people should naturally be willing to link to it as a recommendation of its value as a resource. In a perfect world, it would be a nice thing if you linked back to them, but this is not always possible. We have over 2000 external links on our 400 web pages. While it would be nice if Photographer XYZ linked back to us, it would be nearly impossible for the US Embassy or US State Department Travel pages to link to us, even though we list their links numerous times within our pages to help travelers. But Google can trace our link to the US Embassy or State Department and say to itself, “well, they are linking to a page with serious value” and throw that into the sifting mix to decide how “worthy” we are in their ranks.
Link to Me
In order to get others to link to your pages and to be worthy of such links, you have to first provide value. As nature and travel photographers and writers, we decided to not just show off our pretty pictures ( of which we have a lot!), but to share our knowledge and experiences on how we got those pretty pictures. I wish I had a quarter for every professional photographer over the years who told me I was a fool for teaching nature photography and writing articles about my photographic techniques. Years ago, there was an attitude of “not sharing” except with the very beginners. Why create competition? My policy on this has never changed. The better we all become as nature photographers, the better quality product we have to offer and the more consistent and honest our business practices and standards become. I want to compete against the best, not against the mediocre, and by teaching others to become the best, I help lift the nature photography industry out of mediocrity. I think that is a worthy goal, don’t you? So we decided to add our knowledge to these web pages, helping everyone. Therefore, creating more value than a bunch of pretty pictures (and they are really pretty!).
Other ways to increase your link popularity is to write articles, be interviewed, or be listed as a resource on other web pages. There are many services available that accept free, public domain (credited, copyrighted, but usually no pay) articles. Websites are hungry for content, and maybe you have an article they would snap up, thereby giving you exposure and creating a link to your site as part of your byline or bio. If you are doing something interesting or extraordinary, then get yourself interviewed by a webzine or Website, and get a link from that page to you. Send out press releases frequently to let organization know that your page is a valuable resource and that you are doing something interesting, and create a few more links.
Finally, you can ask. On our home page, we’ve created a small banner and HTML code along with a request to post a link to our page if they find the content worth as a resource. Hopefully, you should soon start seeing our “Taking Your Camera on the Road” logo popping up around the web. We also send emails to many of the sites we link to, explaining the link popularity rating, and telling them that we found their site so valuable, we put a link on our site, so it would be nice if they found our site as deserving. Be careful to word your email so it doesn’t appear to be spam, as this race for links is attracting spammers like flies to honey. Mention what it is you liked about their pages and why you find it worthwhile so they know you are sincere.
In the early days of link popularity, people didn’t care who they linked to, just as long as they had huge numbers of links, pushing up the link popularity ratings. Link farms, link and banner exchanges, and other gimmicks started popping up everywhere. Google and other search engines were quick to figure out the games people were playing with them, and they put a stop to it. “Spamming” or “flooding” a Website with massive links to other pages just for the sake of linking is now worthy of banning, and some of those bans are permanent. If you are considering boosting your search engine ranks this way, don’t. It could cost you. Play fair.
Developing your linkability doesn’t happen overnight. Plan for your link popularity to rise over years, not months. You can test your own site’s link popularity on Google by typing
link:www.myWebsite.com in the search box to see who is linking to you that Google finds acceptable.
To find out now how your link popularity rating is, here are a few resources:
- Market Leap
- Alltheweb.com (Type the web page address in the search bar)
- Link Gnome
- Searchbliss.com (tests 5 search engines)
- Sitepopularity.org *****
- Whose Linking to Your Site
- Link Tree
- Who are Your Competitors