Search engines are constantly tweaking their ranking algorithms and when that happens some pages lose their top ranking positions. One such event was infamous Florida Update. Many pages were practically kicked-out of top 1000 pages for competitive keywords.
With recent updates, webmasters have been thinking that Google does not use PageRank because low PR pages can get very good rankings. Before that everyone was saying that PageRank was THE factor for top positions. Now, everyone is saying that keyword rich anchor text links from many different sites is key for top ranks.
All these recent events seem to indicate that search engine algorithms are totally unpredictable, right? Wrong!
All search engines are going in very same direction. The scientific literature related to information retrieval and recent search engine patents reveal not-so-distant future of search engine ranking algorithms.
Introducing Topic Specific Link Popularity
For last few years search engines relied on General Link Popularity to assess importance of every page. Relevancy was based on a combination of General Link Popularity (importance) and keyword matches on page and off page (anchor text of links for specificity).
General Link Popularity is measured by summing weight of ALL incoming links to a page. With General Link Popularity ANY link improved importance of a page. Webmasters started to buy high-PR links from totally unrelated sites. Pages were getting unrelated votes.
To combat this problem, Google implemented a Topic Specific Link Popularity algorithm. When a user specifies a query, Google determines importance of a page by Link Popularity it gets from RELATED to keywords pages.
A link from a page will give you considerable Topic Specific Link Popularity when:
1) page itself is optimized for your keywords
2) page has a high General Link Popularity (PageRank)
3) page is from a site owned by someone else (you can't vote for yourself)
From a search engine's point of view, implementing a Topic Specific Link Popularity algorithm is a very tough task when queries need to be answered in less than a second.
All you need to know is this: top ranked pages for competitive keywords are ones with highest Topic Specific Link Popularity.
You need links from pages that have high PageRank, are optimized for YOUR keywords and are owned by someone else.
How do you get these links?
1. Search for your keywords on Google and look at all pages that rank for your keywords. Seek links from these pages.
2. Reciprocal Links. Swap links with sites that can give you a link on a page optimized for your keywords. Look for pages with high PageRank that have your keywords in their title and in their incoming links. Reciprocal links work provided that they come from optimized for your keywords (related) pages.
3. Buy links from some of top ranked for your keywords pages.
4. DMOZ and Yahoo's directory usually have pages that are very well ranked for your keywords. You absolutely must get links from these pages. If you have a commercial site, don't hesitate and buy a link from Yahoo immediately. It is well worth $299.