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Measuring Link Popularity

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The best way to discover how people are finding your web site is to analyze your site's activity logs, a topic which is covered in depth on the Keywords Used To Find Your Web Site page available to Search Engine Watch members.

Those unable to analyze their logs can use search engines to track down referral links. In particular, this method gives you an idea of how "popular" a search engine believes your site to be. That's important because all major search engines consider a site's link popularity in their ranking algorithm.

The information below describes how link popularity is measured at popular crawler-based search engines.

Be aware that "popularity" is only one part of the link analysis systems that search engines such as Google use to rank web pages. The quality and context of links is also taken into account, rather than sheer numbers.

The More About Link Analysis article available to
Search Engine Watch members provides additional
information about how link analysis works and ways to
find the "important" links that can benefit your web site.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member

Google

To search for pages linking to your site, simply enter your domain this way:

link:searchenginewatch.com

This will return a sampling of pages that have hyperlinks linking to the searchenginewatch.com web site. This would include links such as:

http://searchenginewatch.com
http://searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/
http://searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/popularity.html

You can narrow the search to a particular URL by being more specific. For example:

link:searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/popularity.html

Note that the URLs entered after link: don't include the www prefix. This is not necessary. The format shown will find links with or without the prefix. The http:// prefix is not necessary, either.

Other Resources

Marketleap Visibility Index
http://www.marketleap.com/publinkpop/

Enter your URL, along with up to three comparison URLs, then see at a glance how you measure up in terms of sheer numbers of links to some major sites on the web. Free, easy to understand and use! You can then click on the report to see link count listings from the major search engines that are queried.

LinkPopularity
http://www.linkpopularity.com/

Free and simple service that helps you generate link lists from three major search engines. Results can also be emailed each month.

Compute Your Own Web Traffic Rank
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/relativeranking.html

This isn't really about measuring link popularity, but it is an interesting method of determining the overall popularity of your site. In short, Jakob Nielsen explains that dividing your site's page views by the page views of the web's most popular site tells you how popular your site is.

Counting Clicks and Looking at Links
The Search Engine Report, Aug. 4, 1998

Discusses how link popularity is used at some major search engines and some experimental ones.


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