You already know how powerful links can be when it comes to your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. As Alexis Siemon pointed out in her article “Become a Killer Link Builder“: “A link is a shortcut to quickly get you from one website to another. If you can harness the power of the link, you can make your website a force to be reckoned with. That means higher search engine rankings, more traffic to your site, and, eventually, more customers and more money in your pocket.”

But though more and more online marketers are learning about SEO and how it can help deliver lots of quality traffic to their sites, the powerful little link is still a mystery to many. One question I frequently get is about “link juice.”

What is link juice? It is the key to your popularity with the search engines. The more you have, the higher you can rank in the search engines’ results.

To understand link juice, you first need to understand another SEO term: Link Popularity.

Link Popularity is a metric that most search engines use to gauge the “popularity” of a Web page based on how many other Web pages link to it. You could think of it this way: Each link to a Web page that a search engine finds on the Internet counts as a vote for the page it’s linking to. The more links that are pointing to one of your Web pages, the more “popular” a search engine will consider that page to be.

Search engines consider popular pages to be highly relevant. Since they are interested in presenting the most relevant search results to their users, they’ll give popular pages a high ranking. And this will improve your SEO, put your website in front of more search engine users, and ultimately result in more traffic and more potential sales.

But that doesn’t mean you should ask all your friends to link to your site. You don’t want a link from just anybody. You want links from sites with lots of link juice.

Link juice is a way to describe the “weight” a specific link might carry. A link with more weight is going to be more important to the search engines.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Let’s say you’re trying to get a job. Your potential employer is going to be more impressed by recommendations from your boss at your previous company than she will by recommendations from your mailman or your dentist. You could have 100 letters of recommendation from your college buddies, but one powerful letter from the CEO of a business you used to work for will do a lot more to convince her to hire you.

It’s the same with the search engines. Each Web page has a certain amount of clout – or link juice – that it can pass to another page. How much is not really something you can accurately measure, but you can get an idea of how good a link is (how much link juice it has) by looking at a few variables:

1. How many links are pointing to the page? If a page has hundreds or thousands of links pointing to it, chances are the links on that page have good link juice that can be passed on to outside pages (like your page).

Let’s say MortgageBroker.com has a ton of link juice. If you are in the mortgage brokerage business and get this site to link to you, it could pass on a lot of link juice. (It’s like getting a job recommendation from the top dog in your industry.)

2. How many outgoing links does that page have? Pages with too many outgoing links (20 or more) usually have less link juice than pages with 10 or fewer outgoing links. That’s because sites with too many links to outside sites aren’t as choosy.

Think about it this way: If a food critic rates every restaurant she visits as “5-star,” you might not believe she’s got a very discerning palate. But if she gives her top recommendation only to a few restaurants, you would be more inclined to try them out. After all, they are the only restaurants she likes out of thousands.

If a page has lots of links pointing to it and a small number of links pointing out, it’s probably a good page with plenty of link juice. A link on that site pointing to your site would be beneficial to you.

3. Is the page that links to you in a similar niche? It’s important to build up links to your site, but you must make sure those links come from sites that complement yours. In other words, don’t request links from sites that are about mortgages if your business is about sporting goods.

4. How much real content does the page have? Pages that have very little content and are mostly made up of outgoing links have less link juice to offer. The best links are usually from pages that have lots of “real” content and a small number of incoming links.

Once you’ve found a site that has a lot of link juice, request a link from it. You can learn more about how to get a site to link to your site by re-reading Alexis’s article on becoming a killer link builder.

Remember, the more link juice you can get, the higher you will rank with the search engines.

[Ed. Note: Running a successful online business takes more than just throwing up a website – but it doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing. Get a step-by-step guide to link building, search engine optimization, and more as a member of ETR’s Internet Money Club. Spaces are limited, so find out now if there are any spots left for the “Class” of 2009.

If you feel that your website is in the same category as ETR’s, we may want to exchange links with you. Contact us via http://www.earlytorise.com/resources/ with your link exchange request. If your site qualifies as a good link partner, we would be happy to link to your page from our website in exchange for a link-back from your website.]

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edwin huertasEdwin Huertas has been developing and marketing Websites since 1994 as well as testing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) methodologies for many years. He has helped many medium- to large-sized companies around the globe by improving their Web marketing efforts.

Edwin’s background in programming has allowed him to approach Search Engine Optimization from a developer’s perspective. Studying search engines’ algorithms and patterns in order to develop successful SEO campaigns has helped him generate millions in revenue for his clients and employers.

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