The concept of link popularity is based upon the simple premise that websites will link to other websites that provide content which is complimentary to their own content as a service to their visitors. Therefore it stands to reason that a website with many inbound links (high link popularity) could be regarded as an important website. Most major search engines take link popularity into account when factoring rankings for search engine results pages. Unfortunately this has lead to an epidemic of unnatural links being established for the sole purpose of forging artificial link popularity (and rankings). To combat this, search engines have devised more discerning methodologies for evaluating link popularity.
The foremost example of enhanced link graph evaluation is Google’s PageRank technology, which evaluates not only the number of inbound links but also the relative quality of those links and the quantity of outbound links from any given webpage. When then formula is applied to a significant portion of internet documents a probability distribution is created that predicts internet surfer behavior. Refinements to PageRank have offered added security against artificially boosted PageRank; for example Topic Sensitive PageRank (Also known as “Hilltop”) takes into account thematic relationships between linking websites and also establishes hubs and authorities for various industries and subjects.
An unfortunate result of the link popularity epidemic is that any website requiring visibility is forced to play the link popularity game. For most websites this means seeking out link partners that are willing to exchange links between websites. Furthermore it has become common knowledge that a good number of inbound links must be secured prior to anticipating any significant search engine visibility. And while this current state of affairs is rather disappointing, by devising and adhering to specialized linking guidelines that focus on relevance, enhancement of user experience and quality, we can conduct effective link campaigns which if adhered to will help to serve a double purpose of boosting link popularity and helping to repair the thematic ontology (communities) of the internet link graph.