External "referring" sites linking back to you...
Popularity Rating, often referred to as Link Popularity or PR ... counts links from other websites (referring websites) pointing to your website. The assumption is that a lot of websites pointing your website must make it more important than another, similar website with fewer referring links.
Early indexing Robots would scan their indices for external (other websites) links pointing back to the current site being indexed - and then assign ranking points (metaphorically speaking) based upon a pure count. Things are more sophisticated now.
A word about "Link Popularity" and Popularity Ratings ("PR1" through "PR6").
There is a population of website marketers who measure their "success" based upon how many external links they have pointing to a website(s). Since external links are "good", why not have as many external links from link partners and others as possible?
Many of these web marketers sell listings on their sites for a monthly or annual fee. In return, they provide links from one or more websites in their own network pointing back to your site. Their requirement is the fee and, in some cases, a link or links from your site (now, part of "their network") pointing back to them. Essentially, they are "brokers" in the "links for sale" business as opposed to being in a core product or service business that relates directly or indirectly to your business.
A system of Popularity Rankings have evolved that provides these web marketers with the metrics to measure their "success" with software that performs "link counts" at all the major search engines. Depending upon the aggregate link count, a website is then assigned a "PR" value of 1 to 6. These rankings are bantered about as a "PR5" or "PR6" (being the highest) in their sales hype and are presumed to be a measure of the success they can add to your website.
While NetPath search engine marketing tactics support the "more links are good" philosophy, the factors and criteria covered on our "link partners" page still apply. We feel that referring links from related websites with static pages and good search engine performance are vastly superior to huge numbers of "paid for link farm links" fed by a database of marginally or unrelated dynamic websites.
If you are engaged with another SEM (Search Engine Marketing) firm - verify the validity of any PR claims by "PR Networks" and then evaluate the relevancy of each website to your website in that marketer's network. A good "validation test" is to enter your target phrases in one of the primary search engines and then see how many of the referring websites in the "PR network" appear on page one of the search results.
The Crawlers in use today are considerably more sophisticated than those of the late 1990s - and are designed to determine the relevancy of referring sites to the content of the site currently being indexed (the "target site"). This refinement came about largely as a result of "link farms" like the ones above - websites whose only business was to broker and trade links back to their client (target) sites. This form of spamming often positioned poorly written sites near the top of search results - thereby creating an unsatisfactory experience for the search engine user and damaging the reputation (for accuracy) of the Search Engine company.
Today, Crawlers first attempt to determine a site's line of business. Then, when scanning for external (referring) links pointing to the site currently being indexed, links from sites in the same or related industries are assigned a higher ranking value then links from sites not considered to be in a related line of business.
In addition, most index search robots will evaluate the "anchor" text surrounding the referring link to further determine the link's relevancy.
If you look at the "links" page on some of our client sites and then study the websites they point to, you'll get a feel for how we do this. Talk with your SEO counselor for guidance and examples of some of our portfolio sites.
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