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Linkability – Link Popularity

After you’ve validated your web page’s code, content for search engines, is there anything else you can do to maximize your search engine ranking? Yes, there is. It’s known as linkability or link popularity.

Google and other modern search engines are now determining a website’s ranking using the theory that if everyone is talking about it, it must be good. Ah, the old word-of-mouth advertising method.

By checking to see what pages you link to, and, more importantly, who links to your site, they can tell how many people are “talking” about you, and the more the merrier.

But it doesn’t stop there. The software actually evaluates “who” is talking about you and whether or not they are a reliable source. After all, it isn’t just who is talking about you, it’s their reputation for saying things about others that comes into play. Not much different from the real world.

If Aunt Sally is a gossip, and you can’t trust what she says, then you rarely take her seriously. But when Aunt Sue speaks, everyone listens, because they value her opinion and honesty. The key to gaining ground in the ranks is to not only get everyone talking about you, but to get the right people talking about you.

Linking, Link to us, Link Exchange

The premise of link popularity comes from the world of academia. If your thesis or paper is worthy of citation (others referencing it in their articles and papers), then it must have value. Therefore, if your site has value within its content, people should naturally be willing to link to it as a recommendation of its value as a resource.

In a perfect world, it would be a nice thing if someone links to you, you linked back to them. This is not always possible. Some sites feature thousands of external links. While it would be nice if Blogger XYZ linked back to this site because I mentioned them, it would be nearly impossible for the US Embassy or US State Department Travel pages to link to us, even though we list their site numerous times within our pages to help travelers.

But Google can trace our link to the US Embassy or State Department and say to itself, “well, they are linking to a page with serious value” and throw that into the sifting mix to decide how “worthy” we are in their ranks.

In order to get others to link to your pages and to be worthy of such links, you have to first provide value. As nature and travel photographers and writers, we decided to not just show off our pretty pictures ( of which we have a lot!), but to share our knowledge and experiences on how we got those pretty pictures. Here, on Lorelle on WordPress, I can share my enthusiasm for WordPress, blogging, writing, and website design and development. The better quality content I provide, the more likely people are to want to point out “Hey, I found great information there!” and do it with a link.

Other ways to increase your link popularity is to write articles, be interviewed, or be listed as a resource on other web pages. There are many services available that accept free, public domain (credited, copyrighted, but usually no pay) articles. Websites are hungry for content, and maybe you have an article they would snap up, thereby giving you exposure and creating a link to your site as part of your byline or bio. If you are doing something interesting or extraordinary, then get yourself interviewed by a webzine or Website, and get a link from that page to your site. You can also send out press releases frequently to let organization know that your page is a valuable resource and that you are doing something interesting, and create a few more links.

Many people eager to get noticed by search engines flock to Link Exchange services. I’ve tried those from time to time and found them to be high effort for little return. Of course, I’m really picky about who I link to, and these sites tend to not be so particular. And honestly, search engines know that game and will often ignore such efforts or even penalize you.

In the early days of link popularity, people didn’t care who they linked to, just as long as they had huge numbers of links, pushing up the link popularity ratings. Link farms, link and banner exchanges, and other gimmicks started popping up everywhere. Google and other search engines were quick to figure out the games people were playing with them, and they put a stop to it. “Spamming” or “flooding” a website with massive links to other pages just for the sake of linking is now worthy of banning, and some of those bans are permanent. If you are considering boosting your search engine ranks this way, don’t. It could cost you. Play fair.

WordPress: Pings, Trackbacks, Tags, and Comments

It takes little effort for your WordPress site or blog to be noticed by search engines. The developers have worked overtime to make sure that sites run with WordPress are as search engine friendly as it is possible to be. You don’t even have to add any gimmicks. It will work right out of the box.

But it does help to understand how it works and what you can do to improve your odds. So let’s take a quick look at how pings, blogrolls, trackbacks, and comments help your linkability.

are basically signals sent across the net that let a search engine or directory know that you’ve updated your site. In the most simple terms, it knocks on the door and asks the search engine to come visit.

are notes from other trackback enabled sites that link to one of your posts and they “send you a note” to that post in the comments that says “I linked to this post”, quoting the content immediately around the link. These trackback comments help to link the web together and increase your link popularity. It also helps users know what others are saying about your post and information.

Tags or tagging are like keywords on your site, but they are also more like categories. They are words that represent the categorical content of your site. You can see a list of some of the tags associated with this post at the bottom of the article. These are used by tag search engines and directories to catalog your site in their database. By default, all WordPress categories are automatically marked as tags, though users of the full version of WordPress can add more tagging features.

Comments are a great way to create interactivity on your site. Unfortunately, due to the massive rise in comment spam, WordPress and others have built in a nofollow attribute to any links found within a comment to instruct search engines not to follow the link. Some complain that this hurts link popularity, but I say it increases it. Leave a great comment and the odds are that the site administrator/owner will visit your site to check you out. If your content is worthy, you might get added to their blogroll or written up in their blog. This gives even more meaning to the link and the value of the link.

All of these features come right out of the box with every WordPress version, so you don’t have to do anything special. Unless you want to.

More Resources and Information on Link Popularity

Developing your linkability doesn’t happen overnight. Plan for your link popularity to rise over years, not months, though search engines are getting faster and faster to respond to pings and submissions. You can test your own site’s link popularity on Google by typing in the search box to see who is linking to you.

To find out now how your link popularity rating is, here are a few resources:

Link Popularity Testers

Link Popularity – Articles

Related Articles

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network


  1. Posted October 5, 2005 at 4:35 pm | Permalink


    First off, many thanks for all the wonderful tips. I’m just starting, but I do have a question. How do I get to keep the rel=”tag” addition to my HTML? I try to add it in manually using the HTML window, but whenever I hit update, it seems to strip it out.

    If you or anyone else could help, I’d be extremely grateful. Thanks!

  2. Posted October 5, 2005 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    While does strip a lot of stuff out, which irritates me to NO END!!!!!!, I can’t reproduce your issue with the rel="tag" inside of a link. The only way it will work is in a link:

    <a href="" title="something here" rel="tag">link word</a>

    If you use it any other way, it won’t work. Tags are meant for links. If it keeps happening inside of your links, fire away at the developers through the Feedback link in your admin panels.

    And thanks for letting me know.

  3. Posted October 5, 2005 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to thank you for writing such valid content and tips. I know writing some of these posts must take a good amount of time, so thank you for passing on the great tips and content.

  4. Posted October 7, 2005 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    Well, it still seems to be happening. Whenever I include rel="tag" inside of a link and hit “update,” it gets stripped out. I sent a note using feedback, but it’s very frustrating. Is anyone else having this issue?


  5. Posted October 7, 2005 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I’m sure they will respond and hopefully someone will answer if they are having the same problems.

    Also know that even though your “tags” might not be able to be “tagged”, tagging is still working through the categories on your site automatically.

    And sites are being combed by search engines thoroughly, so concentrate on having content stuffed FULL of keywords that will be recognized by search engines. I’ll be talking more about this in a few days, so stay tuned.

  6. Derby
    Posted February 20, 2006 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    That was really great described. Now I see that not only reciprocal links add value to my site but one way links to serious sites do it as well. But now I have a feeling that google checks each and every site manually that is impossible due to the quantity, so i do not understand how they know that your link to a state department site (for example) is proper?

  7. Ray
    Posted February 20, 2006 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for that great article. It’s summed up so well thatI don’t even have questions left but for one: wich gives you higher rank reciprocal links or proper comments?

  8. Posted February 20, 2006 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Ray: A higher page rank? Well, a lot goes into Google’s determination of how your page should be ranked. Comments, like yours, left on a WordPress or anti-comment spam blog, are automatically tagged with nofollow in the link for your name or site which means that search engines will NEVER follow nor pay attention to them. They have no value. So comment away but it does not impact page rank on those sites.

    But wise and intelligent comments do encourage people to visit your site and they may write something about you and create a link to your site. That kind of link counts. How much is up to Google’s formula.

    Derby: Google doesn’t check links manually, but through a “filter” program that analyzes all this information. In the simplest of terms, they find a link on your site and check it against the information and scores they gave that link in their database. Based upon the values there, they say “Oh, now they have linked to a site with X value, so we will give them Y points.”

    The same thing happens when examining links to your site. Some sites have higher or lower score values and that gets somehow mixed into your total because they linked to you.

    Does that make sense?

    I want to emphasize again that comment spammers going after reciprocal links DOES NOT WORK. COMMENT SPAMMERS BE WARNED. You can leave your terrible drugs, gambling, and porn links everywhere in comments and it will not work if the blog or site is using the latest software and blogging tools, like WordPress. Putting comment spam on the millions of WordPress blogs doesn’t help you a bit.

    For the rest of us, understand how the power of the link can make or break your site and use it wisely.

  9. Geoff Dodd
    Posted February 17, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Permalink


    I see you’ve got it right as your pages are ranking highly in search engines like Google so thanks for your clarity and simplicity here in a complex area of web work.

  10. Posted April 28, 2007 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    wordpress providing good platform for all willing to create a blog and information about anything, I am going to create one for my work from home site:

  11. Posted April 12, 2008 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    tnx for Link Popularity
    pagerank checker

  12. Posted June 14, 2008 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,just to inform you that these 2 links you’ve given are not working..

    Link Popularity Testers

    * Enginemage


  13. Andy
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Link exchanges still work well, especially when you get links from pages with less outbound links to your inner pages (deep links).

    • Posted February 24, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      There are link exchanges and then there are linking to pages. Big difference. I hope you understand the difference.

  14. Daniel
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle, I am new to this Linking, after reading your post I think I understand a lot more. The “deep” linking has had me talking to myself.

    • Posted May 11, 2009 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      I don’t understand. Deep linking has nothing to do with talking to yourself. I’m confused. They key things you have to understand is that links need to link appropriately to valued content, on and off your site, and onsite or intrasite links are critical to encouraging people to read more on the subject by you, not just other people. Keep linking to others, but link to yourself as well.

  15. Zashime
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    When I check on the backlinks it syas there are 19,000+ linking to my site, today when I checked it decreased and just 18000+ is it normal?

    • Posted July 23, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Depends upon what is counting and if you removed some with spam filters. I never check so I don’t know how to determine the accuracy.

  16. Ramonita
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering
    if you knew of any widgets I could add to my
    blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    • Posted May 4, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      There are many. All do different things. You also don’t need one. Get the link to your twitter feed and use the rss widget to feature your twitter stream in the sidebar. Thanks.

19 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Discussion: Decide whether you want to moderate comments or let them post right away, whether you want trackbacks/pingbacks and notify weblogs. This is all pretty self-explanatory but if you’re unsure exactly what how trackbacks and pingbacks work, Lorelle has the answer written in non-techno babble. In a shell of some nut, you don’t have to actually do anything. automatically pings the big boys like Technorati and Feedster whenever you post something new. Easy, eh? You betcha. […]

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    如果你的網站被收錄的網?數多,表示你的網站是個有?模的大站,而???連?的數?越多(link popularity 連?廣泛度),表示你的網站越?歡迎,這兩個?素都有助於??高?尋引擎的排??.因此隨時注…

  3. […] Links can go to a specific post or article on a website or blog, or to the main page of the site or blog. Links work in four ways: outgoing links, incoming links, intrasite links, and blogroll links. We’ll also look at another growing trend in more powerful linking, trackbacks. We’ve talked about the power of linkability for SEO page ranks, but the power of links is much more than that. Let’s examine these to understand the power of the link. […]

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  6. […] Linkability – Link Popularity: Article with resources and links and information on finding out how popular your blog is and who is linking to your blog. […]

  7. […] By recommending a site with a link, you are lending your site’s linking power and reputation to that link. Search engine’s have the ability to judge incoming and outgoing links as part of their page ranking analysis. If your site ranks high and you link to another site, their site scores better for that link than if a lessor site linked to them. Thus, your site is judged by its link popularity. To help you determine your own linking reputation, I wrote about how to test your site for its link popularity and page rank. […]

  8. […] Link popularity, the number of external sites which link to you, is still critical to successful search engine page ranking. But it isn’t a matter of how many but who links to you. Search engines know the difference between lots of links and quality linking. They evaluate who is linking to you and if their links and content matches your content. If they don’t, it’s ignored. If it does, it scores. […]

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  12. […] good quality. If you, like me, use WordPress, you can find useful information about link popularity here I know firsthand that SEO works. I strongly recommend it to all internet home business owners. With […]

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  17. […] old thinking was that the more link exchanges or incoming links you have to your site, the higher your page ranking in search engines. Those days are over. You can […]

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