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Top 4 Popularity Types for Search Engine Rankings

Link Popularity Ranking Factors
by Alan Rabinowitz

While this article originated in 2007, it’s been occasionally updated and still holds true today. Some of what was explained is now common knowledge in the SEO Industry.

There are many factors that influence Search Engine Rankings. Content, Architecture, Popularity, and hundreds of other factors too numerous to name.

If we take away the website’s content, what things would make a site show up on the Search Engines? We have defined 3 factors of major importance for today’s Search Engines.

Link Popularity, Social Popularity, Industry Popularity, and Click Popularity, these are all current factors in ranking websites in the major Search Engines.

Link Popularity has been a primary factor since the 2004 Google algorithm change coined “Florida.” Link popularity means the number of links coming to a website from other web pages. It’s based on links to “all” pages of the site and there’s scoring (such as quality and type of link) that values each link in the scoring. There are quality factors in the link popularity algorithm that also determine the amount of value, which any website will get from a specific link or a sitewide link.

PROS: Offers a voting system based on numbers and quality factors. Can filter out spam easily.
CONS: Can “sometimes” be manipulated through trading and buying of links as a commodity. Although great measures are in place to prevent this and it’s harder to do now.

Social Popularity is a measure of social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and numerous other portals and users info. Social popularity gives the algorithm a potential voting system by getting active internet users a new link popularity voting system that develops quickly and can spread to be “viral” and thus impact search results.

PROS: Helps marketers market on Social properties and makes these social properties valuable. Passes value from social sites to other properties.
CONS: Causes recycled content on the biggest blogs that are after traffic rather than quality content. Some bloggers are guilty of recycling stories to get ten posts a day.

Industry Popularity is seldom spoken of today. It is nothing new, it is used as a measurement of relationships similar to the methodology of “Hilltop“. It is based on industry-related sites and the linking between them. This is a popularity system measured by how many peer sites (related sites and blogs) link to the target site and pass on link popularity. How and where the links come from and the value of the industry blog that points to the site.

PROS: Offers industry popular sites. Can pass on high-quality related visitor traffic.
CONS: Typically these are limited unless the sites are reciprocal linking versus creating value in content and referencing.

Click Popularity This is more of what happens on your site. If your site is often clicked and people use your site, then these clicks become more relative to searchers. Similarly to Quality Scores in PPC, Click Popularity represents the number of clicks and the end result of what the clicker did. Measuring clicks is important for advertising and has become a highly advanced system since Search Engines’ main source of income is Paid Advertising. A click on a link counts as a vote and if the user follows through versus bounces off the site, It can reflect the scoring and “potentially” value or devalue a websites ranking.

PROS: Helps find useful information that people want to read.
CONS: Basis of clicks in on a small description, sites further down an index would never gain rankings even if deserved as most searchers will not go down the results pages. Weaknesses in site design and visitor traffic flow can hurt and cause poorer scores, despite the value of the content.

The emphasis in today’s Search Engines is almost entirely on one form of popularity or another. As with any Search Engine Optimization campaign, the importance lies within the completeness of the campaign. Using all factors and creating a buzz-worthy popular website will make the difference to anyone’s goals.

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