Measuring Link Popularity
On the face of it, measuring the link popularity of a website is simple. However, inherent flaws in the measurement process may at best give some meaningless results and at worst underestimate the effectiveness of your link building work.
Most search engines allow you to identify and count the number of links coming back into your site. On Google, for example, just enter link:www.yoursite.com and you’ll find a list of sites that link to you. You could also use one of the link checking sites like http://www.linkpopularity.com that tests several search engines at once or download free software from http://www.checkyourlinkpopularity.com to easily check your own site, your clients’ and your competitors sites.
However, the results from such tests should be taken with a large pinch of salt.
Let’s take an example based on some work we’ve done for a large pharmaceutical company that wanted to build on the number of inbound links they had from health portals. A quick check on their link popularity showed that they have a healthy 5,500 inbound links.
But it turns out that these links are not all they seem.
By analyzing a significant sample of these links we found:
We found that less than 1% - that’s an estimated 55 sites - were the type of valuable links they were after.
Now suppose we undertook a linking strategy and generated 50 additional quality links from exactly the sort of health portals they were after.
On a pure numbers basis, our work would have increased their link popularity from 5,500 to 5,550, an insignificant 1% increase. But in reality, the strategy would have almost doubled the number of quality inbound links to their site - from 55 to 105 - a very significant impact.
There are other flaws with link popularity measurement:
Furthermore, a search engine’s priority is to help people find relevant information. Helping webmasters and site owners find backward links accurately may not be near the top of their priorities.
So what should you measure?
Link popularity checkers are very useful as a guide and for research purposes they can be tremendous. However, using them as a metric to judge the effectiveness of your linking work should be treated with caution.
By all means use them to give you a rough idea, but build some solid metrics into each linking project you undertake.
Here are some things you should think about:
Measuring return on investment is a key business discipline that we all have to address. Putting some thought into what you should measure for each individual linking project will not only prove your worth, but will give you valuable insights into how you can sharpen and improve your linking strategy.
Ken McGaffin provides link building services to established and newly launched websites. He is the author of the highly acclaimed 'Linking Matters Report', which can be downloaded for free at http://www.linkingmatters.com.
Article reproduced with Ken McGaffin’s permission.
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