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Link Popularity: 3 Reasons Why It’s Still Crucial to SEO Success

You don’t read much about link popularity these days.

As a matter of fact, if you’re new(ish) to this whole internet marketing thing, chances are you’ve never heard of it.

And that makes sense because it’s lost a lot of rep points from veteran marketers.

See, link popularity is just a fancy way of saying “the number of links pointing back to your site or page.”

In other words, it’s link quantity. (You’ve heard of that, right?)

And, as you probably already know, link quantity doesn’t carry near as much perceived value as link quality does today.

But should it?

I argue “yes,” and in this post, I’m going to show you why.

More precisely, I’m going to show you:

  • why link popularity (link quantity) is essential to your SEO success in 2018 (and beyond),
  • the upsides and the potential downside of link popularity, and
  • how to increase your link popularity as fast as possible.

 

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Think of this post as a brief re-introduction to link popularity that includes a valuable guide on how to effectively and efficiently incorporate it into your marketing strategy.

Let’s get started.

The Link Quality vs. Quantity Argument

Quality vs. quantity:

As I eluded to in the intro, it’s an age-old argument between online marketers.

The basic premise is this:

Which has a greater positive effect on ranking higher in SERPs and driving more traffic to your site?

  • Link quality? (the actual and perceived value of a backlink) or
  • Link quantity? (the number of total backlinks, regardless of value)

The current popular opinion is that link quality matters much more to SEO and traffic generation than link quantity. “Sure, link quantity matters,” they argue, “but only insofar as the total number of links are of a higher quality.”

To be honest, Google seems to justify this claim.

After all, in recent years, they’ve made it increasingly clear that they give more weight to the quality of links pointing back to your site …

 

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… which has led to the evolution of a more quality-focused approach to getting backlinks.

So, I guess it’s safe to conclude that quality should be our sole focus, right?

Not so fast.

Link Popularity: 3 Reasons Why It’s Still Crucial to SEO Success

There are three main reasons why link popularity still matters a great deal:

1. Link Popularity Increases SERP Rankings

First and foremost, the number of links to your site has been proven to have a direct effect on your search engine rankings.

Brian Dean (of Backlinko fame) analyzed 1 million Google search results and made two key discoveries that relate directly to link popularity:

A. The number of referring domains has a strong influence on rankings

The more unique domains linking to your site, the better:

 

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As a matter of fact, Brian and his team concluded that this factor had the strongest correlation to higher rankings in the entire study.

To put it in his own words:

“Google wants to see several different sites endorsing your page. And the more domains that link to you, the more endorsements you have in the eyes of Google.”

Brian Dean, Backlinko.com

B. The number of total backlinks pointing to a page also has a strong influence on rankings

This data proves that Google still places a lot of value on backlinks:

 

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This graph obviously states that the more links you have pointing to your site, the higher you’re going to rank in Google.

In other words, link popularity is still crucial to effective SEO.

2. Link Popularity Is Easier to Acquire

Let’s be honest …

Creating high-quality content on a regular basis is difficult and time-consuming.

 

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You have to perform in-depth topic and keyword research, spend hours researching and writing your piece, and then a few more hours editing, finalizing and publishing it.

Whereas earning a link from a do-follow blog directory can be as simple as submitting your site to the directory and waiting for them to approve it.

It’s because of this ease of acquiring the links that link popularity can be so powerful. There’s less strategy required and fewer obstacles to overcome.

3. Link Popularity Is Faster to Implement

Simply put, getting more lower quality backlinks typically takes less time than getting a couple of high-quality backlinks—especially for newer marketers.

For example, posting a comment and including a link back to your site takes seconds. Where crafting an epic post takes several hours.

Granted, the backlinks you earn from the “epic” post will generally have significantly higher authority (but not always).

However:

The 50 comment backlinks you’re able to acquire within the same amount of time it’d take you to write your “epic” post will help offset the difference in domain and page authority.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses …

We’ve covered the major “pluses” behind link popularity.

But if you’ve learned only one thing from the Star Wars saga, it’s that there’s always a dark side.

The Potential Downside of Focusing on Link Popularity

Let’s cut right to the chase …

More lower quality backlinks almost always equal more spam links.

When link popularity is your focus, you’re going to be confronted with the occasional spam backlink pointing back to your site. There’s just no way around it.

You’re not going to have the time to vet every single site you post a comment on or every blog directory you submit to or every site that links to your infographic.

And this isn’t just a link popularity problem; it’s a backlink problem.

Think about it:

High-quality content attracts spam backlinks, too.

The difference is in quantity. Naturally, you’ll be at risk of encountering more spam backlinks the more backlinks you earn—regardless of their quality.

The only reason why focusing on link popularity slightly increases the risk of spam is because, in most instances, you’re acquiring substantially more backlinks than when focusing on high-quality links.

Now, spam backlinks are always a concern because of the negative impact they have on your rankings.

But if you use Monitor Backlinks, you can quickly and easily spot and get rid of any spam that may sneak through the cracks.

How to Overcome This Problem with Monitor Backlinks

Monitor Backlinks has a built-in spam finder.

It uses the Moz Spam Score to identify the likelihood that a site linking to one of your pages will be penalized by Google.

And it makes finding spam backlinks as simple as looking at a color and a number.

Here’s how it works:

First, you’ll log in to your Monitor Backlinks account, go to the Backlinks module and filter your backlinks to show do-follow links only by clicking the green button at the top of your list:

 

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(If you don’t have a Monitor Backlinks account, you can start a free, no obligation 30-day trial here.)

Next, locate the “Spam Score” column and look at the spam scores for each link:

 

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For example, let’s say I’m currently running a link popularity campaign and getting backlinks from various industry-related forums and blog comments.

While I’m performing my scan, I come across this entry:

 

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Take a look at the Spam Score: It’s colored red and reads “11/17.”

That information tells me that there’s a high likelihood that Google will view this particular link as coming from an unreliable, spammy source. Ergo, I need to remove it.

Anything colored red and with a numerical value of 8 or higher needs to go.

It’s that simple.

My next step would be to contact the site owner (if possible) and request that they remove the link immediately.

If I get no response or they refuse to remove the link, then I’d have the link disavowed.

Do you see how powerful this is?

With Monitor Backlinks, you never need to worry about spam hurting your rankings. When you spot it, you simply remove it.

 

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The Final Verdict on Link Popularity

All the evidence points to the fact that link popularity is still very relevant and powerful for today’s marketing strategies. To avoid it will result in lower SERP rankings and less traffic.

That being said …

Link popularity will ultimately fail as an SEO strategy if it’s not combined with building a portfolio of high-quality backlinks.

The two go hand-in-hand.

You can’t ignore quality backlinks and achieve lasting results. But you also can’t ignore link popularity and expect page one rankings either.

Now, let’s look at a few ways you can start building your link popularity today.

How to Increase Your Link Popularity Fast

There are tons of ways to build more backlinks.

(Our blog is a virtual library of different backlink building strategies.)

But some methods are faster than others.

That being said, here are four of my favorite ways to build a higher quantity of backlinks without having to apply much effort:

1. Write Testimonials

Every product and service provider wants more glowing testimonials.

Plus, this opens up plenty of options for getting higher quality backlinks from industry-related sub-niches.

For example, let’s say you have a site related to being a better three-point shooter.

This opens up testimonial opportunities for:

  • Basketball-related training courses and programs
  • Sports apparel
  • Basketballs
  • Books
  • Basketball-related accessories
  • Training equipment
  • Portable basketball hoops
  • Etc.

What I’m getting at is:

Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a single category for writing testimonials. Branch out and cover as many different areas that your niche “touches” as possible. The more the merrier.

Here’s how to promote and write testimonials that will score you backlinks:

A. Use the product or service

Don’t offer a testimonial if you haven’t used the product or service. It’ll show in your testimonial and could prevent it from being published. Plus, it’s just not ethical.

If you’re unwilling or unable to shell out cash for the product or service, you can always ask for a “review copy” of the product in exchange for a testimonial (and possible endorsement).

B. Write an email to the site owner offering to supply a testimonial

Just what it says …

Write a friendly email to the site owner (or person in charge of testimonials), offering to provide a testimonial for their product or service.

Don’t ask specifically for a backlink.

If one’s not provided once they publish the testimonial, then you can reach back out to them and politely request that they include a link to your site.

C. Write the testimonial

Model it after ones already posted on the site.

If there aren’t currently any posted, then include the following in your testimonial:

1. Define your pre-existing problem

2. Tell how the product/service helped solve the problem

3. Include specific figures (if you can) that illustrate the positive impact of the product/service

Send it in and wait for it to post. And then check to make sure a backlink was provided.

(Hint: You can do that with Monitor Backlinks. You’ll receive automatic notifications whenever someone adds a backlink to your site!)

That’s all there is to it. Simple yet effective.

2. Create Basic Data-based Infographics

Your first thought might be:

“Whoa! Infographics? I thought you said these were supposed to be quick and easy?”

This kind is.

All you’re going to do with this strategy is to gather a collection of relevant data and statistics about a particular topic in your niche, turn it into a simple infographic, and then summarize the infographic in a post.

Here’s how it works:

A. Gather a collection of data about a particular topic

Base it on a central theme—say “subject lines in email marketing.”

This theme will form the basis for your basic infographic and the topic of your post.

From here, you’ll research all of the relevant statistics and data that cover the use of subject lines in email marketing campaigns.

Create a note in Evernote (or other note-taking software) with everything you find.

B. Create your infographic using Canva

Next, head over to Canva to create your infographic.

This website gives you a WYSIWYG editor that lets you create infographics with ease. It even includes pre-made templates to make the process even simpler:

 

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All you have to do is choose a template, fill in your data and statistics (with a brief summary for each), and include a list of resources for each statistic you quoted at the bottom of the infographic.

C. Publish and promote the post

Next, create a post on your site that showcases the infographic and briefly summarizes each quoted statistic.

Publish the post and then promote it via your social media channels and the like.

Including research, you can create one of these infographics in a couple of hours.

But because infographics—especially this type—are so shareable, those two hours spent can easily (and often) turn into a nice collection of quality backlinks.

3. Submit Your Site to Quality Blog Directories

Another quick way to boost your total number of backlinks is by submitting your site to do-follow blog directories.

When approved, these directories will link back to your site which, in addition to providing a valuable do-follow link, can also help drive more traffic to your pages.

BlogCatalog is an example of one of these types of directories …

 

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… but there are hundreds to submit to.

Here’s a recent and up-to-date list of over 100 blog directories you can submit to that will help get you started.

In addition to blog directories, you’ll also want to find industry-related forums (that offer do-follow links) to join and find blogs to comment on to further increase your site’s link popularity.

4. Spy on Your Competitors

There’s also one other powerful way to find new sources for building more backlinks fast that’s worth mentioning: spying on your competition.

Using Monitor Backlinks’ Competitors module, your competition will provide you with a virtually endless supply of new resources for finding do-follow backlinks.

Here’s how it works:

First, log in to your Monitor Backlinks account and select the Competitors tab at the top:

 

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Next, add a competitor (if you don’t have one already) by clicking the “Add new competitor” button …

 

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… typing in your competitor’s domain name …

 

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… and clicking the “Add competitor” button:

 

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Now, after one week, your competitors’ backlinks will start to populate your Competitors module on Monitor Backlinks for your review. It’ll be loaded with new backlinks every week moving forward.

Eventually, you’ll have a list that looks like this:

 

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A virtual goldmine of new opportunities for building new backlinks.

So What’s Next?

Now you know just how important link popularity is to your SEO success.

And you know what you need to do to start increasing your quantity of backlinks with relative ease.

Your next step is to put what you’ve learned from this guide into action.

My recommendation:

  • Start by adding your competitors to Monitor Backlinks.
  • Then, use the link I provided earlier to find directories to submit to and start submitting your site to them.
  • After that, find products and services you can write testimonials for and then start researching ideas for a basic infographic.

Remember: Balance is key to backlink building.

 

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For every 20-30 lower quality backlinks you get, focus on getting 1-2 high-quality links to match.

Quality needs quantity to be successful and vice-versa.

Be persistent. Don’t give up. And you’ll see success.

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