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Google's concept of link exchange outdated/paranoia?
internetheaven




msg:3407648
 12:35 pm on Jul 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, link exchange is no longer a "tactic" the same way as having keywords in your title is no longer a "tactic". It is part and parcel of a website. I've been searching for a new website design firm recently and nearly every one (to be fair, I can't think of one that didn't) outputted web designs that had a Links page already integrated in. Some even had link management software included in the package.

Surely link exchange has evolved to the stage where it is simply another "assistance" (I'm guessing that will be the debated word!) to pointing out what a site is about. Certainly search engines would be right to reduce the value of such links but only to the same level of how much the title, description, alt tags etc. influence ranking as they are probably more at risk of spamming than link exchange anchor text?

e.g. How many times have we seen a title/description/alt tags like this - "Buy or Purchase Cheap & Quick Green Blue Red or Purple Widgets for Widgetting, Widgetted and Wdigts or iwdgets in New York, London, Moscow, Edinburgh"

but I bet they can't get all that into the anchor text of a link exchange! They will have to choose their words carefully. Surely link exchange is one of the best things to happen to search engines as it means that they now have a better way of knowing what a site is about as other people are vetting what keywords are attributed to that site.

I'd appreciate opinions on this now that link exchange doesn't seem to be an option anymore but more of the norm when even just starting a website. Sure, it is still meant to increase rankings but what isn't meant to increase rankings on a website these days?!

Thanks
Mike

P.S. We already have dozens of threads about why most link exchanges are "legal" and why it would be impossible to police properly anyway etc. etc. so let's leave that out of this discussion? I'd like to hear people's thoughts on the current internet society mindset of link exchange if possible.

 

glengara




msg:3408331
 8:16 am on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

"It is part and parcel of a website."

True but link exchange now has to be intelligent, and building in a links page/management software doesn't qualify IMO, a couple of years ago maybe....

"...as other people are vetting what keywords are attributed to that site"

All the exchange requests I get specify the anchor text to be used and it's never close to what I'd have used "naturally", I wonder how many people modify it and what the reaction is....

new_seo




msg:3408338
 8:53 am on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Link Exchange is not very effective now a days.It's better that we should concentrate on Link Building rather than Link Exchange.
As per my knowledge G is giving more importance to one-way links,rather than reciprocal and when ever we are doing link exchange we have to reciprocate the other site.

But as you said for a new site,Link Exchange is good to start with.

acwebguru




msg:3408356
 9:25 am on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes, now a days Google's algo has become more strict. We have to be careful while going for linkings. We should focus on quality and relevant links only.

internetheaven




msg:3408414
 11:15 am on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

All the exchange requests I get specify the anchor text to be used and it's never close to what I'd have used "naturally", I wonder how many people modify it and what the reaction is....

Ahhh! But you have to agree that the anchor text asked for is (mostly) never spammy because they want you to place the link and you wouldn't if it was "Buy Purchase Green Blue Red Widget Wdiget USA UK India eBay Google Yahoo" which is what I see in a lot of title/description/alt tags.

It's better that we should concentrate on Link Building rather than Link Exchange.

Who doesn't know that already? I didn't say "I want a Link Exchange is it a good idea?" - I was commenting on Google's recent attacks and threats to link exchange setups and saying that such is pointless considering the current mindset of website builders.

As per my knowledge G is giving more importance to one-way links,rather than reciprocal

You're in the wrong thread.

Yes, now a days Google's algo has become more strict. We have to be careful while going for linkings. We should focus on quality and relevant links only.

Yes, I already said that in the initial post, I already stated that Google penalises (or wishes they could effectively) link exchanges - I was asking whether it was possible for them to change the current mindset of webmasters considering that most websites now come with link exchanges already set up.

new_seo




msg:3408424
 11:38 am on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

You're in the wrong thread.

No,I am not.The discussion is about "link exchange doesn't seem to be an option of SERP anymore." and I don't that my post is irrelevant.

I already stated that Google penalises (or wishes they could effectively) link exchanges

G is not penalizing link exchange,they are giving no importance to it.

Quadrille




msg:3408427
 11:46 am on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

G is not penalizing link exchange,they are giving no importance to it.

Exactly. Google has moved on from link mania, and webmasters would be wise to do the same.

The OP may miss the 'easy' linking days of 2005; but them days is gorn for good.

And I mean 'Good' - the emphasis now is Quality Links, and the more 'natural' the better. That means that folk who know nothing about SEO, but want to give a good visiting experience, can compete with those who spend their lives seeking link exchanges.

Kudos to them; Kudos to Google and Kudos to new_seo for being in the right thread - at the right time :)

[edited by: Quadrille at 11:49 am (utc) on July 30, 2007]

malachite




msg:3408441
 12:23 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

G is not penalizing link exchange,they are giving no importance to it.

If that's the case, why does Googlebot (and every other major search engine) persist in looking for gobbling up the 'links' page before any other on a new site?

It might go a long way to changing the mindset of Webmasters if this weren't the case.

new_seo




msg:3408455
 12:47 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

If that's the case, why does Googlebot (and every other major search engine) persist in looking for gobbling up the 'links' page before any other on a new site?

Your question is not clear to me.Please explain.

Quadrille




msg:3408458
 12:57 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

It might go a long way to changing the mindset of Webmasters if this weren't the case.

That's a bit of a generalization.

Google's changes have occurred over the last two years; webmasters either know that they need to keep abreast of Google's developments, or they don't.

If they choose to get stuck in 'mindsets', then they haven't a hope - and that's always been true.

The only 'mindsets' they should even think about are:

1. If I want my site to do well with google, then I need to understand Google.

2. We live in an age of constant change. I need to be alert.

But rather than mindsets, webmasters would do much better to concentrate on building a better website. Chasing the latest 'Google fad' has never been anything but short-term gain, and with the misunderstandings that abound around these fads, often no gain at all.

We've seen link farms, link 'directories', article farms, now thread after thread trying to find a 'new way' of link exchanging; Time to move on, methinks. Like Google has.

Shadoze




msg:3408479
 1:31 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

But rather than mindsets, webmasters would do much better to concentrate on building a better website. Chasing the latest 'Google fad' has never been anything but short-term gain, and with the misunderstandings that abound around these fads, often no gain at all.

Exactly.. anyone who builds a website based on what Google wants is headed for disaster.

Because whatever Google wants today will surely change tomorrow, and just because you 'think' you are playing by their rules, doesn't mean you are likely to fare any better than those that don't.

A site should be built first and foremost on how best to convert traffic into sales, assuming you're a for profit site. Build the site around YOUR customers needs

Then develop ways to generate traffic. Google is just 1 means of traffic delivery and they are far from the most reliable or stable.

Your website and business should be built based on yours and your customers needs, not Google's.

internetheaven




msg:3408485
 1:34 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Time to move on, methinks. Like Google has.

That's my point, they haven't moved on and I think they should. They are kicking up an almighty fuss about link exchanges and just added a new dedicated section to their Webmaster Guidelines section about the subject.

That is my point, they are trying to dissolve something that is already as much a part of the regular format of a website as an About Us, Contact Us and Sitemap pages of a website. Surely they should quit trying to stop link exchange and just archive it with alt tags and title tags in the algorithm?

pageoneresults




msg:3408487
 1:34 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd like to hear people's thoughts on the current internet society mindset of link exchange if possible.

I'd have to say that Google is responsible for creating the current mindset. Google is responsible for many cottage industries that have sprung up since its engine was released in the 90s. Particularly the link exchange industry.

The only paranoia around here are those who continue to read things into Google's guidelines that may or may not be there. The paranoia comes from those who are involved heavily in the type of link exchanges that Google appears to now be devaluing. The writing was on the wall years ago.

The current concepts of link exchange need to change, from a Webmasters viewpoint. The whole link directory exchange thing is so outdated. Its one of the biggest signals your site could send in regards to links. Go ahead, put all your links in one area and call it links.htm.

Since this topic is in regards to link exchange, I won't get into detail about other types of links. But, when it comes to everything other than link exchange, Google is having a very difficult time in determining what's what. Hence the reason for all the paranoia generating PR.

That is my point, they are trying to dissolve something that is already as much a part of the regular format of a website as an About Us, Contact Us and Sitemap pages of a website.

The only reason it is a part of the regular format is because Google made it so. But, many have gone beyond the regular format. That's the problem. When you have a 10 page site toting around a 100 page link exchange directory, something may be out of kilter.

Quadrille




msg:3408516
 2:22 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's no doubt that Google's actions contributed to the link exchange obsession, though that was certainly not their intention. But over the last couple of years, with increasing success, they have moved away from that.

they haven't moved on and I think they should. They are kicking up an almighty fuss about link exchanges

They have moved on; they no longer reward link exchanges the way they once did. That's surely not in dispute?

Far from kicking up an almighty fuss, they are simply making a lot less fuss about links than they used to. Just as new_seo has been trying to tell you.

As means of gaming Google, link exchanges are over; live with it! By all means do it - if it's in the interests of your visitors - but just don't expect Google to reward you or 'kick up an almighty fuss' - because they won't.

The party's over. Move on.

As for the 'current mindset' - most webmasters who read SEO forums have recognised the inevitable. Everybody is better off.

[edited by: Quadrille at 2:24 pm (utc) on July 30, 2007]

europeforvisitors




msg:3408549
 3:16 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Surely link exchange has evolved to the stage where it is simply another "assistance" (I'm guessing that will be the debated word!) to pointing out what a site is about.

I don't think Google has too much trouble figuring out what a page is about (or even what a site is about, if the site has a clearcut, overall topic). And I don't see how there's any value to Google or users when, for example, a site about Elbonian accepts link-exchange invitations from:

- A real-estate broker in New Zealand
- A metal fabricator in China
- An Indian hotel-booking service in Bombay
- JoeBob's blog about JoeBob

In any case, Google knows better than we do whether such link exchanges are helpful, harmful, or of no consequence to its algorithm. Why? Because it has access to data that we lack. If statistical analysis indicates that a "links" page with hundreds of off-topic reciprocal links correlates with spam (or simply with a lack of links from Google-trusted sites), then it stands to reason that:

1) Google would give little or no credit for such links.

2) Very possibly, that Google would regard such link clutter or link spam as a negative "signal of quality" and factor that negative signal into its rankings.

The only reason it is a part of the regular format is because Google made it so. But, many have gone beyond the regular format. That's the problem. When you have a 10 page site toting around a 100 page link exchange directory, something may be out of kilter.

Is Google to blame for the fact that some people are greedy or foolish?

pageoneresults




msg:3408576
 3:41 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've been searching for a new website design firm recently and nearly every one (to be fair, I can't think of one that didn't) outputted web designs that had a Links page already integrated in. Some even had link management software included in the package.

Quick question, where exactly are you looking? Offshore? Or are these U.S. firms (not outsourcing)?

Quadrille




msg:3408670
 4:51 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's telling you that certain companies are out of date. That's a useful marker.

Shop around; if a company is blindly zapping out 2004 templates, do you really want to give them your money?

That's not a trick question, BTW :)

jomaxx




msg:3408720
 5:35 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't understand the point of this thread. Google don't give a damn if you do link exchanges or not. But it's their job to rank pages by relevance and it's their prerogative to use whatever signals they deem appropriate in order to accomplish that.

Reno




msg:3408791
 6:25 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have much respect for your insight pageoneresults, but cannot agree with your statement:
The only reason it is a part of the regular format is because Google made it so

I'd bet there are dozens if not hundreds of people on this one forum who had a links page before Google even existed. Now multiply that out across the web. From the point where the www broke into mass consciousness in the mid-90's, the idea of link exchanges/link pages has been part of the format.

What Google did in its emphasis on linking was to give many of us the (mistaken) impression that the links page/exchanges would boost PageRank. It may have helped a little at one time, but there were no guarantees that would last forever.

"What is giveth with the one hand can be taketh with the other"...

..............................

pageoneresults




msg:3408798
 6:39 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have much respect for your insight pageoneresults.

Thank you.

But cannot agree with your statement: The only reason it is a part of the regular format is because Google made it so.

I'd bet there are dozens if not hundreds of people on this one forum who had a links page before Google even existed.

Emphasis mine. A page or two of links, no big deal. A whole directory of links attached to a site that "typically" doesn't have this, may be a problem.

The idea of link exchanges/link pages has been part of the format.

My experience starts in 1995 and I've seen the various link crazes come and go. Google has had the most influence on that craze.

What Google did in its emphasis on linking was to give many of us the (mistaken) impression that the links page/exchanges would boost PageRank.

It used too. And, it still does in many instances. But, there are certain instances where it does not. Those instances are at the top of the food chain. The first to get filtered will be link exchange directories as that is probably one of the few areas that Google can exercise algorithmic control. All other links will require some human intervention at some level to determine their nature.

It may have helped a little at one time, but there were no guarantees that would last forever.

Its all part of the ebb and flow of this industry.

pageoneresults




msg:3408842
 7:30 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here's how I see what happened...

Google released the Google Toolbar and PageRankô in 2000 December, that is when the concept of link exchange went into hyperdrive. Automation came into the picture in a very heavy way. Our industry literally wreaked havoc on Google's method of ranking pages.

Now we have Google Search Engineers looking for ways to undo what they originally did. I'm sure it was difficult for Google to plan ahead when they released the PageRankô algorithm. I'm not too certain they could prepare for what our industry unleashed on their indices. ;)

Out of all the methods of linking, link exchange would be the simplest area to target algorithmically. Its been abused to the point where anything that has a common denominator, a footprint, is most likely being filtered in some way. If your /links/ pages are showing PR, good for you. If your /links/ pages are showing PR and sitting in the Supplemental Index, then those pages are probably not doing what they were originally intended to do, pass juice.

For those of you who have link directories attached to your site, before you run off and start removing them, think about this. There is a strong possibility that "some of those links" are of great value. Do not take a knee-jerk reaction to this and just nix all of them. Take a close review of your inventory and then figure out which ones are the creme of the crop.

From there, find areas within your site where a link to that resource would be relevant. Don't just plop it on some links page and be done with it, that's a signal. Drop it inside a paragraph of content that maybe discusses something relevant to that linked resource. This is referred to as natural linking. You'll want to pay close attention to digitalghosts' current Google Experiment [webmasterworld.com] in the Supporters Forum.

Once you've reallocated those creme of the crop links, 410 the rest of it. Just get rid of it. If you can send a 410 Gone response, great. If not, a 404 will have to suffice.

You could even go one step further and request that your /links/ directory be removed from the index. Just be careful and double check everything you are doing before you press that submit button. ;)

glengara




msg:3408886
 8:11 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

'From there, find areas within your site where a link to that resource would be relevant.'

Bingo! Now that's intelligent link exchange :-)

steveb




msg:3408990
 10:31 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

"That's surely not in dispute?"

Of course it is. In fact it's a bit silly to suggeest. Google views some link exchanges more favorably than previously, while viewing as spam the vomitous and useless "link directories".

These threads often unfortunately continue to look at method instead of purpose. A "link exchange" is not a generic thing. Valuable sites linking from valuable pages for valuable reasons and in turn getting similarly appropriate links are valued as they naturally should be. "Let's make a three way deal" goofballism is not valued by anyone, not by sites, not users and not Google, except by mistake.

Exchanging links is just a method. Where it occurs naturally, for a genuine purpose, it can and should be valued. Exchanging links for no other purpose than to boost rankings has always been spammy nonsense that Google has not wanted to value. The fact that lazy butts have made it easier to detect spam "link directories" doesn't really reflect on the basic idea that genuine purpose is valued (generally), and fake purpose is not (generally).

pageoneresults




msg:3408998
 10:39 pm on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

steveb, great reply.

Of course it is. In fact it's a bit silly to suggeest. Google views some link exchanges more favorably than previously, while viewing as spam the vomitous and useless "link directories".

I'd also like to point out that relevancy when it comes to link directories may not be what it once was. Just the fact that it sits inside one of those link directories (I call them leeches as they leave gaping wounds that just ooze blood 24/7/365), is a signal. Is it a negative one? Probably in most cases. There will be those exceptions to the rule.

A "link exchange" is not a generic thing.

That's where things went wrong. Link Exchange went to the wholesale level, it became a commodity item. Link monkeys are a dime a dozen and most seem to be focused in certain parts of the world. A world that is still a few years behind the rest of us.

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