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The Dark Side of Exchanging Reciprocal Links
Some of the tricks Webmasters sometimes use to get around linking back to you.
martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 9:44 pm on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Bad webmaster! Bad...

  • Delink your links page

  • Bury the link to your links page on a single page that takes about five clicks to get to

  • robots.txt

  • Run your outbounds through your cgi-bin counter script

What are the worst tricks webmasters are playing on their partners today?

 

teesside media

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 3:14 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

hmm some pretty interesting stuff!

so if your website doesnt have a good pr then how do you go about linking to others? coz no ones wants to link to a low pr website do they :os

oldskool79

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 3:35 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding something in this thread, but if a webmaster approaches you for a mutual link exchange and links to you using javascript or uses robots.txt to stop SEs from spidering the link page whats the problem with this?

<sarcasm>You aren't exchanging links just to boost PR are you? </sarcasm>

badtzmaru

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 3:35 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

If I was going to do something shady with links, I'd use a script disguised as an HTML page. If a search engine spider hit the page, I'd spit out some other content instead of the links. It'd be near-impossible for those linking to me to detect.

Macro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 3:39 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>You aren't exchanging links just to boost PR are you?

No, but if someone is sneaky enough to consciously attempt to block PR webmasters may not want to deal with him. What will he do tomorrow? Wait till you are not monitoring and then remove the link so he ends up with a one-way?

I don't do link exchanges anymore, there's just too much of cr*p going on in this "market"

grelmar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 4:02 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hesitate to mention it, but I've seen it done, soo....

<a href="http://www.microsoft.com/"><table><tr><td><a
href="http://www.google.com/">http://www.microsoft.com</td></tr></table></a>

Basically, it shows microsoft on page, but actually links to google (in this example), and also if you mouseover it, in IE (dpending on the version of IE), when you mouseover the link, it will show microsoft in the status bar.

(It's an old Phisher scam, that no browser has fully fixed, so we can't just growl at M$ for not dealing with it.)

skunker

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 4:03 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

How about agreeing to put his links on your page, as long as he links to you....and then take off his links about a week later without him knowing.

Bad?

ronin

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 4:23 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

How about you say to your link requester:

"Yes, if you want to link to my site, by all means go ahead. If I independently decide to link to your site I will do so."

That's what I do about 2 percent of the time.
The other 98 percent of the time I delete the email.

Why would you link to a site just because it links to yours? What's the point?* Given the amount of deceptive practices employed, is it worth the hassle?

* Yes, I know, but apart from the obvious excuse, what's the REAL point?

teesside media

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 4:40 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

its worth the hassle if it improves the ranking of your site isnt it?

5x54u

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 4:45 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Great Thread MB!

I like this thread for many reasons. It greatly assists webmasters in such that I have created a laminated check list for my link guys/gals. It helps speed up their process and aids in weeding out the none preferred partners. Hey its a part of linking, some of my girls can spot the nastiness just from the way the page sits.

There is a fine line that is walked in this biz and we all have tried something "grey", if you have not then who are you?

While we hate the result of what was done by tricky linkers we need to chalk it up as something to look out for and buy um a beer and thank them for the lesson.

GranPops - I like that technique wherein you wait 30 days to see whats doing with the requests.

ronin

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 5:10 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

its worth the hassle if it improves the ranking of your site isnt it?

Aha. But does it improve the ranking of your site as much as spending an equivalent amount of time doing something else - like making the site more extensive, more useful, easier to navigate, more expert, more individual?

There was a time for link exchange. I think we could see the beginning of the end of that time in early 2003, if not then certainly by the time that Florida happened.

Reciprocal links have been abused in a similar manner to the way in which meta tags were abused. They will, I suspect, go the same way (if they haven't done so already).

ownerrim

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 5:22 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

My solution has simply been to ignore all link requests and to only link to sites that offer solid content that benefits users. Regarding the acquisition of links, solid content will, inevitably bring them naturally. So, if I think someone's site brings a benefit to my users I link to it and if someone else thinks the same re: my site, they have the option to do the same. Reciprocal linking just seems too potentially hazardous and puts you in contact, in too many instances, with slimeballs.

growingdigital

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 5:27 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

If I was going to do something shady with links, I'd use a script disguised as an HTML page. If a search engine spider hit the page, I'd spit out some other content instead of the links. It'd be near-impossible for those linking to me to detect.

To detect this method just check the cached page in Google, or use a search engine simulator.

jcoronella

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 5:51 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

What are the worst tricks

Cloaking in:
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="index, nofollow">

badtzmaru

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 6:04 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)


To detect this method just check the cached page in Google, or use a search engine simulator.

To defeat these, use the no cache directive and do the spider detection by IP instead of user agent.

davewray

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 6:07 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I always check source code and check to see if they use the "nofollow/noindex" trick. As well, I look for cgi scripts and whether the "links" page is linked to from anywhere else on the site.

This is the trickiest:

Use a cgi counter script.
Use onmouseover to look like their link is there.
Disable right clicking, so they can't check source.
Everything looks legit and they don't suspect anything because the page still has PR.

What I use to get rid of automated linking spam is to use a form on my site. If they can't find the "add resource" link on my main page and just send some canned email, then to the trash bin it goes. I say on my "add a resource" page that I have the right to link back or not link back depending on the quality and usefulness of their site.

I provide them with three variations of anchor text and description to link to my site. Of course, I vary the anchor text on a monthly basis so I can mix it up a bit and not overoptimize for a specific keyword.

The great thing is that, even though I link back to many sites, I don't link back to probably 50% of them because they're off-topic or bad quality. The result? They usually don't check back to see if I've linked back to them and I gain some one-way links. Another trick? When changing my anchor text of my links for potential linkers to use, I sometimes insert a common spelling mistake and target misspellings that way.

Cheers.

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 6:11 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>I sometimes insert a common spelling mistake and target misspellings

LOL... do you select link partners with a history of bad spelling to target for these?

itisgene

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 6:30 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, I do not use link exchange at all. I do not respond to the emails. But hey, I learned a lot from this thread "HOW TO CHEAT other webmasters".

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 6:35 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

My solution has simply been to ignore all link requests and to only link to sites that offer solid content that benefits users.

Me, too, but sometimes even that backfires. I remember linking to one interesting site that later morphed into a cookie-cutter affiliate site with no original content.

notredamekid

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 6:37 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Are people really still using reciprocal linking as an SEO strategy?

Rosalind

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 6:43 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

What this thread shows us above all is that reciprocal linking has become really high maintenance. Checking link partners takes time, and who has the time to thoroughly check them all once again two months later to weed out the ones who have deleted or otherwise obscured your link?

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 7:04 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Checking link partners takes time, and who has the time to thoroughly check them all once again two months later to weed out the ones who have deleted or otherwise obscured your link?

This is where the concept of high quality vs. low quality comes into play. It is much easier to maintain 20, 30 or 40 high quality links than it is for 200, 300 or 400 low quality links. Think long-term instead of short-term. ;)

Michael Anthony



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 7:21 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

In the UK, around 80% of the link request emails I get these days are from outsourced link builders. You can always spot them a mile off as their english is dire and if you try and talk to them it goes from bad to diabolical.

A sample..

Hello,

I came across your web site recently [mysite.com...]
and I am intrigued by its contents. I was particularly fascinated by
your site. I thought our web site might interest you and be of help
to your web site visitors.

Or in other words - this email can be applied to any site on any subject as it uses such vague language. Sure they were fascinated - by my SERPS and PR!

In this case, my site was for personal finance, and theirs for light switch plates. Yeah, really relevant!

Lorel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 8:01 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

It appears a new software is needed to detect bogus reciprocated links. It should be a best seller.

PS. Please design one that works on the Mac too!

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 8:06 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

It appears a new software is needed to detect bogus reciprocated links.

An automated backlink checker? Shut my mouth! :o

This tool would have to check the html, robots.txt, be able to detect JS hijinks, and tell if it's being framed. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. What's a reasonable price for such a tool?

jack_dt

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 8:30 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't use reciprocal links. I just have a popular site. It works a lot better.

I get about 9 requests a day from other webmasters who wanna share links. I don't think they understand that I like my PR7 and I don't wanna share any with their PR3 site unless they have some content worth linking to. That is why people link to my site, that is why I have a high PR and why people link to me without my having to spam them or otherwise ask them to.

When will web development go back to adding information to the internet or preforming services instead of pathetic attempts at outwitting a search engine?

Am I just angry or does anyone else share these feelings?

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 8:49 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Am I just angry or does anyone else share these feelings?

Oh, I'm sure there are many of us who share your feelings. Google started all of this, now it is up to them to reverse the damage if they can. A little filter here, another there and eventually most of the junk will get weeded out. Unfortunately there will be many innocent bystanders who get caught in the nets.

Crush

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 8:53 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

An automated backlink checker? Shut my mouth! :o

This tool would have to check the html, robots.txt, be able to detect JS hijinks, and tell if it's being framed. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. What's a reasonable price for such a tool?

Going to add that one to my list of things to do :)

grelmar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 8:57 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

A little filter here, another there and eventually most of the junk will get weeded out...

Not to disagree entirely, but Google has been doing this for a while. And every time they come up with a new filter, the blackhats figure out a way around it.

The annoying part is that now to get any kind of decent result, on a new legitimate page, you have to get some grey on your white hat.

5x54u

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 9:06 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

The annoying part is that now to get any kind of decent result, on a new legitimate page, you have to get some grey on your white hat.

That will be tomorrows Hot Topic! What constitutes an SEO'r in 2005

Again MB! Good Topic! Lots of activity!

lajkonik86

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 9:10 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Simply not linking much:D

davewray

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2036 posted 9:46 pm on Dec 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Lorel...There are automated backlink checkers. If you're heavy into recip linking and need to "babysit" your partner's sites to make sure they're not cheating then it's a must! Of course, it doesn't have all of that neat stuff that mb has on their wish list ;)

rogerd...You know, noone has ever asked me about the misspellings! It's gotten to the point where people are adding links so fast and furious that they don't even check the link titles or description for spelling or grammar anymore. It's worked really well for me. You'd be surprised how many people misspell your main keywords! Targetted, not-so-competative keyword traffic :)

Dave.

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