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|Link exchanges: The poor man's SEO (CNet article)|
Have you guys seen this article from CNet and on cnn.com home page about link exchanges?
Do you agree with their conclusion that link exchanges can help your page rank as long as you follow some simple rules (exchange links with similar topics, dont pay for links, dont link to bad neighborhoods)?
Previously, I had come to the conclusion that unless a site wanted to exchange links with you that had as-high or higher page rank, the link wouldn't do any good and could potentially hurt you. I've been turning down link exchange requests for year. Have I missed the boat on this one?
Well, logically, if everyone only exchanged links with those with the same page rank as them (no one could exchange with someone higher, because using the logic, that person would refuse to link to you), that would severely limit the number of links.
And just because today's PR is a "measly" 2, in the future if/when it it gets PR 6 and you want it to link to you, the owner will most likely remember your snub when it was just a PR 2.
It all goes back to following the rule of "Does linking to the site add value to your users?" Do good for your users and Google will do go unto you. :)
I basically agree. Link exchanges as described in this article are not toxic and always to be avoided.
However, you can only go so far with this approach. Extensive directories of exchanged links are not a major benefit, your backlink profile needs more diversity than that to really compete. But there's no reason to completely avoid reciprocal linking.
|I had come to the conclusion that unless a site wanted to exchange links with you that had as-high or higher page rank, the link wouldn't do any good and could potentially hurt you. |
Sorry that you misunderstood. Especially with relatively new sites, you can have a pleasant surprise as their PageRank grows and you got your link in on the ground floor.
The best criteria I know of is to think about whether backlinks would provide traffic that your site can serve, and whether your outbound links serve your visitors. Forget about the PR bar, look at quality - the kind any reasonable person can see when they load up a page.
Links between decent quality pages can be helpful. But some people insist on the old (worthless IMO) technique of linking from some crappy links page like (/linksn837.htm)...stuffed with tons of links, no content, probably not even indexed.
One very annoying thing I have found with link exchange requests lately is there is often no link on their home page to the page they intend to put the outgoing link on, i.e., their visitors will likely never find the page and probably not the search engines either.
Diversity is the key. I believe without strong editorial links (and a batch of other types) you strongly undermine your own chances of competing at the high level keywords.
I don't mind link exchanges with compatible sites. But most requests I get, are for three way linking and mostly they want a link on my best pages BUT are willing to provide a reciprocal, only a 'third' site on the 'Resources' page.. That simply does not work for me.
you must be getting the same "Link Managers" as I am. ;)
|I've been turning down link exchange requests for year. Have I missed the boat on this one? |
There are spammy link exchange requests and there are genuine link exchange requests. Don't fall for the spammy ones. You can spot them with their cookie cutter message.
"Dear sir, I like your site widget.com, I thought it was really informative. I think your visitors would also benefit from a reciprocal link exchange with my site on forex trading, xyz.com. As you know, links can help improve your traffic with search engines... blah blah blah... we will put your link once you have put ours."
They just sent millions of these by email or hired some SEO farm in India to do the manual work via contact pages.
Genuine ones sound like real people, they will be able to talk about your particular topic, share your interest, mention specifically why they like your site, show where they put a link and humbly request a link to their site also, which actually happens to be decent, on topic and beneficial to your visitors.
I automatically delete the first type, I check the second type when I have time, and maybe one out of 20 really deserve a link back. It's still a numbers game and a lot of work.
"Duffield said. "When I figure out a query I want from Google, I can see the top three positions have this much page rank ..."
I've never paid attention to this before. Pank rank doesn't affect rankings on individual pages as he implies...or maybe I just haven't looked at my pages individual page rank?
My Q ist: If you exchange links - whats the best place to put the links you have to set on your page? I put some links in the right bar and my PR went from 3 to 0. So I guess Google is thinking I'm selling links which is not true.
I dont exchange with anyone any more. Period. If i find a site that is worth linking to, then i do it and dont worry about whether or not they have linked back to me.
I have never explicitly exchanged links. Outbounds are those that are relevant to my visitors. I tell those webmasters that I have linked and even suggest that a reciprocal link would be appreciated but that's entirely down to them. The site in question is number 1 in the SERPS for a range of key searches.
Tonynoriega, you represent a very interesting type of client, one that we encounter alot. So im intrique, on how to reach out to people like you, when it serves both our interest.
Lets take this scenario:
If I was in the same industry as you, but not a direct competitor, (ie. some of my customers would most likely become your customers, or vice versa), you would turn down my link request. Especially if we were a leader in the industry, and being on the web since 1998. What if we phoned you up, what would it take to convice you? Would not the fact that I showed genuine interest in your company, make a difference?
There is so much non targeted link request spam out their, it appears that more and more people are taking tony's view.
It would be nice if we had the late 1990's back when link exchanging was a collaborative effort, and we were helping each other in our industry sector.
I am also pretty much like tonynoriega. Just about every link request that comes in gets deleted. Why? Because I can tell within the first 2-3 sentences that it's a cookie cutter link request. A quick glance at the URL will usually confirm that it's completely unrelated and does nothing to pause my finger from hitting the delete key.
On the rare occasion that it actually sounds like a related site, I will consider it. But more often than not, it's a brand new site with no or little content that would add no value to our visitors.
We also link out to other sites without requiring reciprocal links. Sometimes we may ask for a link back to us, but we don't remove the link if we don't get a back link.
(That's another type of link request I hate- the "We've linked to you, but I'm going to take the link down if you don't link back to us" messages.)
|But more often than not, |
it's a brand new site
with no or little content
that would add no value to our visitors.
If it's a brand new site, it still has potential to get lots of links and content over time. So being there wouldn't hurt in the long run.
I say this to explain, not to brag. My company is the one of the top 5 employers in the state. So we are very well known in the state.
In most cases, anyone coming to our site has one mission. Find more information about us, and apply for what we have to offer.
We work exclusive to our state, so anything going on outside of our state is pretty much worthless.
I get the same "canned" emails that say things like "i think we could both beneifit from exchanging links..."
"i found your site on the internet and found it very interesting and resourceful..."
that technique is about 6 years old and only makes me upset, i usually fire back some mean worded email explaining that link exchange has lost the value it once had and they need to re-think their SEO efforts.
Link exchange is old. It has almost no SEO value, not to say that it doesnt have value to the user. dont get me wrong on that point.
SEO wise, i think is like keyword stuffing.
It is a poor mans SEO effort.
They would benefit more from developing pages with valuable content, relevant content, properly formatted code, and just waiting.
Time is of the essence. These sites that are 3 months, 6 months, a year old... NOT Enough time has passed.
Something BIG, i mean BIG will happen in about 5 years that will dramatically affect SEO, and web development.
i cant quite pin point it yet, but the internet is going to cleanse itself of garbage sites. Search Engines are progressing every month and changing things dramatically.
I find link exchanges of any sort to be a poor use of time and resources. The time, effort, and money (if you pay a service to assist) needed to generate x inbound links should be spent generating great content. Great content -be it articles, tools, or whatever- will generate far better one way links and also increase the equity value of your site long-term. Think about it, say you spend $5000 worth of your time, effort, and perhaps even actual dollars generating link exchanges. Now think about the most creative, compelling, buzz worthy piece of content or tool you can generate for that same amount of money. For my money, you are better off choosing the latter over the former.
Hi all, in order to get links from sites in one niche of mine, I was planning to experiment with an integrated but fully fledged directory, using a script i am familiar with.
It would be free, and prominently accessesible from anywhere in the site and would request reciprocals
Would this be in line with good practise
No. Reciprocal, Link Exchange, 3 Way links...whatever you want to call them.
They dont provide the value they once did in SEO. Back 3 or 6 years ago, you would drop a hundred reciprocal links on your site, and BAM... you were on top..
didnt even matter if the site was relevant to your site or not.
Now, your wasting your time.
Directories are even worse. How many times have you gone to a directory to find what you needed?
Google has driven linking to ridiculous extremes for no value to web sites' visitors.
The idea of links is to direct visitors to a site that has relevance or interest to those visitors. In some cases the links may be reciprocated, in others not. The only criterion should be, "I think this is a useful link". Hence a web of relevant sites that may (or may not) eventually inter-link every site online. Any site omitted from the web of links will (should) be included through a link from a search engine. (Whether or not such a site shows in SERPs should depend on the site's content and relevance, as with all sites.)
By turning links into currency google has destroyed their usefulness and added considerably to spam emails (that and gmail between them!) and incited blog, forum, guestbook and log spam, although these have other causes as well.
Some people posting in this forum say they add hundreds of links a week to their sites. To what purpose? To boost google's fairly useless PR and google's self-important view of what they think the web should be - which is not always (by any means!) what it really should be.
"You want a good PR?" says Google, "Go out and get as many links as you can. But be sure you don't buy them and be sure they are real links not link farms." Do they need to be of real relevance? No mention of it, and that many links can't be anyway. And if enough people believe in PR you don't need to pay money: the links themselves become the coin. So whatever google's intention, the fact is that links are bought and sold just to boost an outmoded and irrelevant system.
Google are pushing a notion that never had any real value past the first year or so, before which time inter-linking had real relevance. If every link-maniac removed most of their links, leaving only those of real value or interest, perhaps this lunatic idea of PR, with its attendant spam and scare, might die out and webmasters could concentrate on site content without whining that their PR was down (again).
This is not a new stance for me. I have never gone out deliberately looking for PR. When replying to submissions to my own directories or (locked) "personals" I ask if they would like to link to our site. If they don't, and many do not even have a web site, then that's never been a problem. It's up to them how relevant our site is to them.
Despite that approach most of the sites I design, for myself and customers, come up well in their niches in all relevant SEs (an occasional exception being caused by google's misguided parochialism - the first W stands for World, google!). Some sites have several hundred incoming links (I doubt more than a thousand for any given site) whilst others have no more than a handful. I have no idea what the PR is for any of them and could care less.
Sorry about the rant. :(
It's true that reciprocal links have limited power compared to what they once had. That does not mean they are completely worthless. This is not a boolean question. In today's algorithm there are all kinds of shades between yes and no.
How long will it be though until link building of any kind becomes completely worthless?
I don't know if that's a controversial theory but it seems to me that Google is getting better and better at spotting "natural" links and ignoring the rest.
I think we're also not far from the point where it won't matter what words you use in your anchor text (in external and internal links). Your page tells google what it is about - why should anchor text matter as well?
When that day comes, the only point of link building will be to help your site get spidered. Until someone finds out about your site and links naturally (or google somehow determines your site has some value even though you have no natural links) your site won't rank anywhere.
That will make it impossible for competitors to harm your site (which google claims already) and attempts to engineer a page 1 position for specific phrases using unnatural internal linking will be rewarded with a drop in ranking for the phrases you target (as already happens).
To get natural links you'll have to publicise your site (tell people about it on forums, advertise, use Adwords, whatever) and hope that someone will think it's a great site and link to it in a way google recognises as natural.
I think the internal linking dial went up a notch at the start of June and possibly the method of identifying natural links. As google gets closer to mastering these things it will be harder for rubbish sites to flourish which will clear the way for the good, strong, useful, interesting sites.
While we're able to find "unnatural" links that work we'll all still try of course, but maybe it will be a better world/web when SEO doesn't involve link building. It's a frustrating, time consuming, expensive job. Anyone who can afford the time or money to do alot of it could promote their site other ways.
Maybe a better long term strategy for us all is to stop link building and start promoting our sites?
Like it or not, the value that Google placed on links made the difference between their successful engine and the likes of altavista and yahoo! at the time.
Sorry but this article has the wrong publication date on it, what it should say is 14 July 2006.
How long will it be though until link building of any kind becomes completely worthless?
Not until real people browsing the web stop clicking on links.
Looking at the last few hits on my site links actually outnumber searches. That isn't typical but visitors following links are always make up a significant proportion of hits.
Age of site and quality of content are heavily weighted factors, followed closely by internal link structure and proper use of titles. I personally rank link exchanges much, much lower on the importance meter.
An observation, link "pr" is relative. If your niche is extremely competitive and the best sites are PR 8 or 9 you'll need more incoming links to compete than if you are in a niche where the top site is PR 5. Though "PR" per say isn't of much use it CAN be used as a guideline in telling you which niches are busy and which are less so, even then i'm sure there are better indicators for this.
When I see a competing site carrying a PR 8 I know I'll need many backlinks and I'll go digging in their link profile right away.
Maybe recips do not have much of their SEO power left, but they can still work as a source of traffic.
Dont get me wrong, reciprocal links, 3 way, exchange...whatever...
DO SERVE A PURPOSE... for the user. The do have a level of value to the visitor who MAY be looking for related information.
i mean, links are what the web is based on right? if no one linked to sites outside of their own, what would the web look like?
I always favor exchanging links withing my industry.....i do not care whether the site has less PR than mine if it is useful for my user.......so conclusion is .........anything to satisfy users.....
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