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Google Clarifies Link Exchange Guideline
Now it's "Excessive" Link Exchange that's Cautioned Against

 5:56 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

A few weeks ago, you all may recall I started a thread regarding Google's new guideline on "Link Schemes".

WebmasterWorld was first to report this new guideline. As many of you all know, other forums and discussion lists have picked up on this story creating some backlash against Google in the past few weeks.


The guideline on Link Schemes (and specifically related to link exchange) was updated last night (I've been checking the guideline page twice daily hoping for a revision or clarification). The original guideline stated:

Examples of link schemes can include:
Link exchange and reciprocal links schemes ("Link to me and I'll link to you.")

Google updated the guideline either late last night or sometime today to read:

Examples of link schemes can include:
Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging ("Link to me and I'll link to you.")

They have added the words "excessive".

I am happy they made this revision. To state any link exchange is an example of a "link scheme" in violation of G's guidelines is overbearing in my opinion.

It seems now that link exchange may be acceptable as long as it's not "excessive".

Thank you to Google for adding some level of clarification. I just scanned other forums and don't see any mention of this update.

[edited by: cnvi at 6:29 pm (utc) on Aug. 15, 2007]



 11:59 am on Aug 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally, I think it should have been changed to read "excessive reciprocal linking and link exchange schemes."

Yes, this is clearer and a more appropriate use of the word "schemes" -- Google could eliminate a bit more of the confusion with this one suggestion.



 1:19 pm on Aug 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

How about this? Just don't build a directory style link exchange profile. That's the number one problem right there and the easiest for the algo to negate.

Don't build a page of links like everyone else is doing.

Don't beg for exchanges via email like some are doing. There are entire Nations that appear to be 1-2 years behind what we're doing here in the U.S. Why is that? I know there is no delay in the information that is out there, why do they continue to send their automated link exchange requests?

Don't automate anything other than the verification that the linked resource is still valid, you do that from time to time anyway just to minimize linkrot.

Inline Linking

The above is a term I heard recently during a discussion. I thought it was a great way to describe "natural linking". With Inline Linking the entire ballgame of links changes, literally! For one, it is probably the one type of link that cannot be algorithmically profiled. Or if it can, it requires human intervention to make a final decision.

Inline Links bring many additional benefits than that of a plain old directory style link. For one, those links are going to be sitting inline with "relative surrounding text". Not only do you have the anchor text, but you have all this associated surrounding text to work with. It does work wonders. But, it makes it difficult for many to do naturally. ;)

If you have more than 5-10 outbound links on one page, it may be one small part of the signal. In most instances, that would be considered unnatural from my perspective. But, it is all relative. If you are an information site, then 10-20+ outbounds per page might be a standard part of your Link Profile.


 1:57 pm on Aug 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a link page full of general interest to my topic but I also add links within, or at the bottom of, my articles so they are right on topic. This way my site doesn't look like a directory.


 5:03 pm on Aug 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have lots of links on my pages but none of them link back to me. I link to resources, I don't ask for exchanges. It's not a problem.

i rahulgupta

 7:37 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

thank you so much.[:)]


 6:36 pm on Aug 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

It always amuses me to see so much energy invested in "Kremlin Watching". (Google changes a few words here or there, and everyone tries to figure out what it really means.)

(I understand the motivation, but I do think it's funny.)


 7:39 pm on Aug 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think those Links Page shouldn't be known as excessive since it might consists of the links to good friends, or it's a partners link or something like that....

As I read through this forum, i think this topic is pretty much controversial.. I guess Google staff are also headache over it...


 3:05 am on Aug 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is anyone really surprised that Google is ambiguous about a "rule" that could possibly ding a site?

The one and only guideline of Google's that I've ever really trusted and followed implicitly was: Have a Good Site and Don't Do Evil.

Everything other "rule" that they've had has never touched me as long as I've stuck to their Ultimate Rule. Though I've come perilously close to getting dinged, it's never happened (touch wood).


 3:16 pm on Aug 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Reciprocal linking has worked for some of my clients and continues to work. We do not advocate its practice nor do we perform it on behalf our our clients. We advise our clients that this is not a good long term strategy but as long as they have recip program in place they should maintain it. Reciprocal linking did work and continues to work. "Excessive" is easy to determine -- Excessive means new link partners bring you no increase in your rankings on specific keywords.

This is a trial and error business. I have gotten powerful links from authority sites that have done nothing for my clients rankings or traffic flow. I have also gotten free links from sites that have delivered not only higher rankings but have delivered quality traffic that converts to sales.

Link where it makes sense. Get links from pages that may give you traffic. Tell your reciprocal linking partners to put some decent content on their link pages or link from content pages.

If you are not linking for the long haul you are a fool. Google will get progressively more restrictive as time goes on. Good links deliver traffic from the link itself.


 10:19 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here's something to ponder, and then answer my question.

My 3 year-old site's homepage has a PR of 4. The links page has a PR of 3. No other page on the site is more than PR2.

My 3 month-old site is just getting ranked. 10 of the 100 or so pages have a PR of 0. The others have no PR. One of the pages that has PR is the links page.

On both sites, the links pages have mostly reciprocal links.

If Google was devaluing reciprocal links, why would my links pages have as much or nearly as much PR?


 10:32 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

On both sites, the links pages have mostly reciprocal links.

If Google was devaluing reciprocal links, why would my links pages have as much or nearly as much PR?

You mentioned you were just getting started so I will carefully presume you obtained these reciprocal links slowly with your own editorial discretion to sites related to your own over this long period. correct me if that is wrong.

Maybe because the exit links you are publishing are beneficial to your traffic and end user?


 4:14 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's correct, cnvi. I only add the reciprocal link if: a) the reciprocal site is closely related to my niche; b) the reciprocal site only has links to other sites within my niche; and c) the site doesn't have 500 links on a single page.

I'm adding some reciprocal links from directories, but only if those directories appear to be quality sites. No adult content, and not just paid link farms.

Even though the newest site is just now getting indexed and ranked, I'm seeing a tiny bit of traffic from these relevant and reciprocated links.

Seems to me that this is what the internet was created for.


 12:41 am on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's correct, cnvi. I only add the reciprocal link if: a) the reciprocal site is closely related to my niche; b) the reciprocal site only has links to other sites within my niche; and c) the site doesn't have 500 links on a single page.

That fit's with my hunch.

Matt Cutt's said last year that "reciprocal links won't count for much. And now that "appears" to have been adjusted.

Last year we experimented with both an "on topic" automated linking network, and an "off topic" linking network. The off topic referal link pages were stripped of their visible PR, causing the site to fall into supplemental status. Those links were reversed and the site returned to the rankings.

My hunch is that Google scores on :

1. relevance [ same theme ]
2. moderate reciprocal linking , in line with the PR of both pages. Do more and you'll loose page strength.
3. link profile of referring and receiving page's quality

Potentially, Google may need to revert to moderate reciprocal linking recognition as a more reliable qualification of a site's vote / linking profile, to moderate the difficulties that it is experiencing with alternative linking practices.

IMO - as dickbaker seems to say above - it's all about "balance" and what's credible.

[edited by: Whitey at 12:41 am (utc) on Sep. 3, 2007]

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