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Why Links Are So Important

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Just Imagine - A World Without Links

Linking Is Crucial ...

Linking between Websites has always been considered to be the lifeblood of the World Wide Web but in recent times links have gained a new importance that has become crucial to the success of a Website. Certainly, Web users use links to navigate between different Websites but today, links are also used by search engines to determine both the subject relevance of the target page and the popularity of the target page. We should always remember that search engines are only computer programs that use artificial intelligence techniques in their algorithms and no matter how sophisticated they become they are unlikely to ever achieve the same sort of intelligence that human beings enjoy.

Link Popularity ...

The creators of search engines realize the limitations of their software and have evolved a system that employs users like you and me as their 'human eyes' on the Web. If you think of a link on a Website as being a vote for the target page, cast by a human being after careful consideration, then if enough links point to a particular page and are found by the search engine, the search engine considers the target page to be an important page. They also use the subject category of the site and page containing the link, together with the descriptive text or ALT text contained within the link, to help focus on the subject relevance of the target page. Subject relevance is most important to search engines because if a user enters a search query for a particular term then they want to be sure that the pages they list for the user are relevant to the users search query.

Page Ranking Model ...

As you have probably gathered, the system outlined above is called 'link popularity' but in recent times link popularity has evolved into an altogether more complex system called 'page ranking'. Page ranking was first pioneered by Google and was the primary reason for their runaway success as a search engine. This was because Google consistently returned better results than other search engines and because page ranking was central to Google's success, most other search engines now employ a similar system.

In the context of link popularity evolving into page ranking I will simplistically explain this aspect of page ranking using Google terms to do so (my apologies to Yahoo! Search, MSN Search, etc.).

Imagine two Websites, Site-A and Site-B. If Site-A has twenty links pointing to it then we might assume that Google would assign a PageRank of PR2 to that site and if Site-B has a thousand links pointing to it then we might assume that Google would assign a PageRank of PR6 to that site. A PR6 PageRank is exponentially worth far more than the sum of three PR2 PageRanks.

Further imagine that we have a third Website which we will call Site-C and Site-A posts a link to Site-C. This would suggest that Google might assign a PageRank of PR1 to Site-C, based on the link from Site-A which has a PageRank of PR2. This PR1 PageRank assigned to Site-C is not very good in terms of generating traffic from search engines.

Imagine instead that Site-B posts a link to Site-C. This would suggest that Google might now assign a PageRank of PR5 to Site-C, based on the link from Site-B which has a PageRank of PR6. This PR5 PageRank that is now assigned to Site-C is very good indeed in terms of generating traffic from search engines.

Page ranking is far more complex and wider in scope than the simplistic model that I have outlined here but the model does introduce you to the concept of both link importance and page importance. If you get one link posted to your site from a PR4 page then this might be worth exactly the same as getting twenty links posted to your site from different PR2 pages.

A Lack Of Experience ...

I try to avoid thinking about the time when I first started writing web pages and creating my early Web sites because I was inexperienced and this inexperience cost me dearly until I learnt the crucial importance of links. I used to downgrade the importance of putting links to other Web sites on my web pages and I never exchanged links with anyone. I did not understand the concept of a search engine index and I had a tendency to think of a Web site like a book. To me, the 'Top 10' and 'Top 100' were nothing to do with search engine ranking and I had not heard of the term 'link popularity'. With the benefit of hindsight and several years experience behind me I now realise that in many respects these were wasted years and I really had to learn my lessons the hard way.

In contrast, I am writing this page for a site that is becoming more successful every day and a hallmark of the site is that we never stop putting new links onto the site. There are now well over a thousand links on this site that point to other sites and these links provide a service to our users which enhances this site out of all proportion. Indeed, a hallmark of most successful Web sites appears to be that they provide all sorts of links to other sites, both to add interest and scope to their own sites and also to provide a service to their users. There appears to be an inverse logic that operates on the Web in that users will keep coming back to sites that provide links to other sites and this is evidenced by the amount of traffic generated by sites whose primary purpose is to provide links to other sites.

The Users Viewpoint ...

Few users visit other sites by entering the Web Address of the site in the address bar of their browser. They usually visit other sites by clicking on a link that has been provided for them by a third-party site, often a search engine or Web directory, and we should not underestimate the importance of these portals in helping users to find the information they require.

However, in large number of cases these links are provided by other Web sites and in many cases users will attach a greater importance to this type of link because it has been provided by someone on a Web site and not by an anonymous search engine. In other words, a link displayed on a Web site is both a link and a recommendation and users who find good information after following a link on a Web site will feel good about the Web site that provided the link, in exactly the same way they feel good about a search engine that returns good relevant results to their searches.

If you visit a Web site and you find information that is interesting or useful to you then place a link to that site on your Web site, making sure that you provide a concise description that tells your users why you found the site useful.

Reciprocal Linking ...

There is a very simple rule on the World Wide Web and this is that you cannot expect other sites to provide a link to your site if you do not provide a link to their site. Sites that provide reciprocal links to each other can benefit in a variety of ways but you should always remember that someone has to make the first move to initiate the process of exchanging links.

The primary purpose of publishing a site on the World Wide Web is to draw visitors to that site so that they can view the site's content and the first step in the process of drawing visitors to your site is to get as many links as possible, pointing to your site from other Web sites. Cross-linking should be the primary method used to improve Web site recognition and increase traffic between sites but there is an even more compelling reason why you need to get as many links as possible, pointing to your Web site.


Link Directly To This Page ...

help support free information on the Internet ...

Many users prefer to link directly to individual content pages on Web-Wise-Wizard. If you would like to do this then we have provided the following HTML/CSS link script which you can copy and paste directly into your HTML editor. Alternatively, you might like to use our New Dynamic Link Generator to create a link that more fully meets your own particular requirements.

the link displayed ...

Web-Wise-Wizard - Why Links Are Important Learn why links are crucial to the success of the World Wide Web. Learn about link popularity and how it evolved into page ranking. Includes a simplistic page ranking model to aide better understand.

select/copy the link Markup ...

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If you find this page interesting or useful then others are likely to view it in exactly the same way. Providing a link to the page will be considered by the search engines as casting a vote for the page. In turn, this will help to improve the search engine ranking of the page resulting in more people being able to see the page. Your link really does count so please don't delay.
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