Is Link Popularity Worth Your Time?
The answer to this question is YES and NO....
"Link popularity" is one of newest buzzwords in the Internet community and is something the search engine optimizers (SEOs) are discussing nonstop. For those unsure of what it means, link popularity essentially describes how popular your website is, based on the number of links from other sites, that point to yours. It is a bit more complicated than that, but, for this article, that simple definition should suffice.
It is all about the mighty search engines! The search engines in their quest to produce meaningful and productive results for their users are using this particular property of your website to help filter and organize the massive amount of websites in their databases. So to have your website be "visible" to the search engines and thus their users, you need to work on getting inbound links. It is something you can do yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Either way, it is a "must do" promotional technique.
One of the best ways to get links is to give links, through reciprocal exchanges. Using link exchanges does two things. First, it makes getting links easier. Most webmasters are willing to help each other, so if you give them a link, most times they will return the favor. Second, by adding links to other quality websites, it augments the quality of your own website. Finally, you are providing a resource (links to other websites) for your visitors. Will you lose potential customers? If you website is good, you shouldn't have to worry.
A note about what is meant by a "quality" website. You do not want to link to any old website. You need to research the website and note such things as its Google PageRank, theme, search engine rankings, the websites it links to, etc. You only want to link to the best websites you can. Unfortunately when you are first starting out, many websites will not want to since you are new... In that case you might have to search a bit harder and maybe "lower your standards" some, but your persistence will pay off. Set goals and stick to them.
Getting websites to link to your website is important, but quality outranks quantity. This is true for the websites you get to link to you (as stated above) and most definitely for your own website's content.
Before worrying about getting those links, you need to create quality content that will make people want to link to you. Your website needs to be designed properly and "optimized" before you worry about links. The time spent getting your website's overall design and content properly done will make your link popularity grow even faster later. (For more info, see my article: Designing For Link Popularity).
If you website is new and has been designed well or "optimized," do not fall for those "get-link-popularity-quick schemes." Be patient - it takes time. Yes, you should work on link popularity, but you can't just get a link from just anyone.
If your website is about shoes, why get a link from a website that is about wheelchairs? Inbound links are there to drive targeted (people looking for what you have to offer) traffic to your website, product, or service. Thus getting quality (well established, high traffic) links from related or complementary websites is the goal. These are the links that will bring you the traffic and potential customers you want and need. Link popularity should only be an afterthought!
In conclusion, link popularity cannot be overlooked, but, as with any website promotional technique, to be effective it has to be done properly. So yes, it is worth your time - but only if the groundwork has been laid and you put the time into it that it deserves. Only then will it truly help your website out.
-Larry Sullivan Linking101.com