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How to Measure Your Web Site's Popularity

Since some search engines will judge your Web site by the number of other Web sites that link to it, how do you determine who has linked to your Web site? Some search engines track which Web sites in their directories have links to outside Web sites. This information is noted in their databases and some of the search engines allow you to query this information. The method varies by search engine, but the value of this information cannot be underestimated.

A recent study determined that the second most significant way that people find and use Web sites is by following a link on another Web site. Soliciting links from other Web sites and then tracking how many actually establish those links is important for effective Web site marketing. Here are instructions for checking who linked to your Web site for the search engines which support this feature:

AltaVista: Type "link:" followed by your URL into the search screen as follows:
link: www. yourcompany. com

Your results will include more sites if you do not include the "www" in your site URL. This is because the search engine only identifies matches if the entire text of the URL that you specify is found. As an example, consider a site which has a link to an e-mail address containing your domain name: address@ yourcompany. com
A search for "link: yourcompany. com" will return the above site, because the search engine finds the text "yourcompany. com" in the link. However, if you searched for "link: www. yourcompany. com" the above site would not be found, since AltaVista would not find the entire text you specified.

HotBot: Type "linkdomain:" followed by your URL into the search screen as follows:
linkdomain: www. yourcompany. com
Another method is to type your entire URL into the search screen and select "links to the URL" in the "Look for" pull-down menu to the left of the search box. Note that this method will not work unless you include the "http//" at the beginning of your URL.
Go. com: Type "link:" followed by your URL into the search screen as follows:
link: http:// www. yourcompany. com
Because the specific language required by the search engines is constantly changing, it is a good idea to get in the habit of regularly checking the "help" screens of each search engine. They will provide updates about the most current methods to check your popularity as well as other search features they offer. Here's an outline of the general strategy we recommend:

  • Check your site's visibility as it stands today.
    If your Web site has already been submitted to the search engines, you'll want to find out how well you rank right now for keywords and phrases people might use to find you.
  • Understand why all your pages are not ranking as well as they could.
    Study rankings and those of the sites above and below you. There's no way to make a single page rank well with every search engine for every keyword or phrase someone might use. However, you can work to make at least one page in your Web site rank near the top for each engine.
    Ideally, you'll want one of your pages to be positioned well for each of your primary keywords. This may take some thought on how to set up your pages to achieve the desired results. Study this report for the techniques to improve your positions over the pages that currently appear in the top 10.
  • Try to identify and correct problem areas:
    A) Are you at least indexed on each engine? Make sure your page design has been optimized for keyword searches, then resubmit. If you submitted recently, make sure you've allowed enough time for the engine to add you to their database. You'll need to go to the engine's submit area to find out what their current lag time is for indexing new sites.
    B) Are you at least in the top 30 positions for your primary keywords? If not, redesign some of your pages (or create new ones), and resubmit. Study this report!
  • Keep records of everything!
    You may find your rankings suddenly move up or down dramatically. When this happens, you'll need to understand WHY. We recommend you keep careful notes on when you submitted or resubmitted to each engine and what pages you submitted. You may even wish to create subdirectories with different copies of your Web site at various stages. That way, if you move down in rank after submitting Revision B, you can go back and study what made Revision A better. This requires some planning to be effective.
  • Follow up!
    This is the key to achieving good rankings. There's no 100% effective page design or strategy. Each search engine is different and continually changes and adds new pages to its index. These will affect your positions over time and sometimes very quickly. You need to continually monitor and adjust your site.
  • Is it all really worth it?
    Yes! Even minor changes in page design combined with follow-up work can have significant effects on your traffic. There's also no other more cost-effective way to increase traffic to your site. Even better, this traffic tends to be of a high quality since it found you by specifically searching for your product or service. If you're indexed on the keywords that properly describe your products or services, you should see sales increase noticeably
  • Real-life example:
    We're familiar with a company that offered various types of software products. They did some traditional advertising and submitted to the search engines. Web site traffic was slow, and Internet sales accounted for only 7 percent of their business. After following the tips outlined here and resubmitting, the site's traffic tripled over a couple of months! Even more astonishing was sales via the Internet increased nearly 500% (to 34% of total company sales!) with low cost in new advertising dollars!



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