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Another thing to consider when trying to figure out your own rankings is the fact that the amount that LP is factored in to a given set of search results is really realitve to the competitive nature of the set. Once you have a good idea of using it, you then need to try and figure out how much of a role it's playing within your keyword set.
Quite often, even on an engine that is considered an LP engine, it's not playing as big of a role as you might think.
Here is an example I come across quite often that might better illustrate my point.
A new company comes online in a well established niche. They submit their site and end up ranking 97th for their desired search term. They do a little reading about the importance of LP, and then they go back a check the popularity of the dominant players within their niche. The top sites are extremely popular, so the new company allocates some serious resources to buiding links so they can improve their ranking.
What they don't do is spend time analyzing what other elements, if any are contributing to the top positions. Quite often, even in a niche that has several thousand competing pages, you will find that the top 30 contain very few pages that even contain the search term in the title. Although the top sites are extremely popular, that popularity is really the only thing contributing to the ranking.
In situations like this, devoting time to link development isn't the best strategy to pursue. Investing the time in tradional page optimization instead will produce much quicker gains.
The thing to keep in mind is that any engine that uses LP as part of their algo is still trying to return the most popular page that best matches the search query. Even on an extreme lP engine like Google, it is still possible to make significant gains simply by doing a better job in all the other areas.
If, for example you look at the cloaking category [directory.google.com] in Google's directory, you will see the sites listed in order of popularity. If, on the otherhand you conduct a search for the word cloaking [google.com]you will get much different results.
Only three of the thirteen sites listed in the Google/ODP directory show up in the Top10 results. The site in the fourth position only has about 74 pages linking to it and almost all are internal links. If you continue through the rest of the results you will find several other examples of individual pages with no ODP or Yahoo listings and very few indbound links out ranking popular sites with good directory listings.
With this particular keyword, there are over 54,000 competing pages in Google's database.
Unique results like this for phrases that would be considered quite competitive (from a page count perspective) are actually quite common. If you take the time to really evaluate all the variables involved with your particular keyword set, you can almost always develop a competitive strategy that doesn't require devoting time to asking for reciprocal links.
Always keep in mind what type of site you are promoting. If you are discussing an ecom site that lives and dies by sales where only the sales rate matters, then link pop might not be the way to go. If you are a site living off of advertising where there is no such thing as a wasted hit then it is time well spent.
I think there is a little in both points of view. I like the idea of an independent off the page criteria that takes some of the rankings control away from pages and induces neutral third party review to the system. Basing results straight on the power of the page has been prone to error since the first crawler (world wide web worm) was built. Using third party data such as the ODP, Yahoo, or a links counting algo, does give a measure of quality to the results - part of Googles success is living proof.
On the other hand, link counting it is prone to error and manipulation. From directory listings, hub listings, affiliate programs, and other forms of "link spam", they can be manipulated. We've all seen results on Google where some page is ranked high on a popular site, yet there is just nothing on the page to make you think it belongs under that keyword.
>Only three of the thirteen sites listed in the
>Google/ODP directory show up in the Top10 results.
(I may get burned at the stake for this), but isn't it interesting to note how many of those top pages (specifically) were produced by top webmaster world users :) (we keep good company eh?)
For an SEO I agree, it is too time consuming and therefore costly to the client. Our job is to deal with the major sources of link pop and then put a program in place that the customer will follow to the letter to gain more LP.
For an independent webmaster/site owner I think it is one of the best ways to use their time.
>If, for example you look at the cloaking category in Google's directory
The site with the highest PageRank is also the site at number 1 at Google search. Positions 2 & 3 at Google search are occupied by the only two sites in the Directory that contain the keyword in the anchor text.
>any engine that uses LP as part of their algo is still trying to return the most popular page that best matches the search query
Agree with you 100% but an optimised page with the "right" link pop can beat a super optimised page. What can't be beat is a super optimised page combined with the right link pop.
I think this is a key factor webguerrilla...The algos differ by category (depending on how competitive the KW is), so it is ESSENTIAL to study the SERP's, study the competition, look for trends, etc...essentially, to find the optimization factors that will make a difference for that keyword.
Personally, I have incorporately "link marketing" into my SEO efforts because I consider that, in the long run, the benefits are worth the efforts of launching a proper link campaign for each site.
Some benefits of establishing good LP are: good for rankings, gets spiders to visit site to update content, and gets more pages spidered and potentially added to the database, enhances and speeds the process of getting new sites added to database.
Considering that Google is now the leading SE and it's ranking algo is heavily founded upon LP, I don't wish to take the risk...Any extra efforts to get that site on to the first page are worth it...The way I see it, although there are still glitches with google's page rank, I don't think they'll abandon the concept of LP, they'll just refine it.
A key element here is what kind of LP campaign you launch. I have been brainstorming to achieve a method that is fairly automatic so that this doesn't take too much time. An advantage that I have is that I tend to work with many relevant sites, so it's easy for me to cross link. For people working with isolated sites, establishing LP may be a lot more time consuming and difficult. As always, it depends on the situation. I think this is one aspect that can't be generalized because there are simply too many factors to consider.
Add to that a little log file tracking, and referral submission and a little link balancing across the various engines, and you can often come up with far more valuable links in a shorter period of time. The added benefit is you don't always end up having to place exit points on your site.
Edited by: eNotalone
LP will play a major role in determining position for a keyword phrase that may only have 200 competing pages if a high percentage of those pages were created by people who hang out at WmW:)
On the otherhand, LP might be an insignificant factor for a phrase that has 20,000 competing pages if the majority of those pages are poorly optimized.
A page that has both qualities, can and usually does become virtually bullet proof.
"Instead, I usually focus on developing links through content syndication programs, discussion resources and online pr distribution."
That's an great approach. Also, each category will have different ways of enhancing link popularity without having to do the tedious, reciprocal linking thing.
The same thing applies to press release distribution. Not only do you have the potential to get dozens of niche sites that share a similar theme to link to you (quite often they simply republish the press release in its entirety)the release itself becomes a serious spider magnet when published on sites like Yahoo.
For sites with the right kind of content, these types of strategies can dramtically reduce the amount of time it takes to build a strong LP base.