Get Good Advice and Decide What You Want to Accomplish So You Don’t Waste Your Online Marketing Budget

Online marketers must understand the dramatic changes that have taken place in the search engine and directory industry. I see so many sites wasting money on the wrong online marketing approaches, especially when it comes to search engines, directories, and links.

Before you spend one cent to market your site through search engines, directories, and links, make sure you really understand why you are doing it. What is it you are trying to accomplish? What are your objectives? What options are available to you to help you meet these objectives and what is a fair price for them?

While there is no shortage of advice, there is a shortage of informed advice.

Question: What Is link popularity and why does it matter?

Eric Ward’s response:

The simplest definition is that link popularity is the number of other Web sites that have links on them to your Web site. Things are never simple, though. Link popularity is a fairly new-technique that several search engines are using to help rank sites for searchers.

This form of ‘popularity’ measurement assumes that sites having many links pointing to them must be ‘better’ than sites that have few links pointing to them. This is all part of a new approach to evaluating good web sites called ‘off-site’ criteria. Previously, search engines only looked at ‘on-site’ criteria when ranking search results, i.e. – a site’s HTML text and tags.

Web marketers have forever been trying to trick search engines into ranking pages higher for certain search terms, using techniques that the search engine tech folks despise. So, by instead analyzing other sites for links, the engines hope to factor out search engine tricksters.

Link popularity and analysis is comprised of factors such as:

Link Penetration – Raw number of sites linking to your site.

Link Quality – A link from Yahoo is given a high rating while a link from Earl’s Link Farm is given little or none at all. This factors out useless free-for-all links pages.

Topical Cross-linking – Sites that focus on the same vertical (narrow) topic tend to link to each other.

From an advertising or marketing standpoint, link popularity means you should be:

1). Make sure your site is linked at topical portals, search engines, and directories.

2). Exchanging links with sites that have similar subject matter as your site. (this does not mean affiliate marketing, but simple plain HTML links.)

Regardless of whether or not the search engines continue using off-site methods for determining relevancy, you will be building a large network of inbound links that will be there for you 365 days a year. If this helps your search rankings, fine, and even if it doesn’t, the network of links will bring you traffic by itself.

Eric Ward founded the Web’s first service for announcing and linking Web sites in 1994, and still offers those services today. His client list is a Who’s Who of online brands, including Books and The Discovery Channel. His services won the 1995 Tenagra Award For Internet Marketing Excellence. Eric writes the Link Building column for ClickZ, and is the editor of LinkAlert!, a private service that keeps you informed of new linking opportunities, tools, tips, techniques, and articles. Eric is a 4-star conference speaker for iWORLD and CNet.