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Link Development Forum

Competitors using link farms - should we?

 2:56 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I work for an online armoire company and we're looking to start our first link-building campaign. We noticed that all of our direct competitors - <snip>, <snip>, and <snip> - have 'Links' or 'Resources' pages on their sites, and their link campaigns consist of reciprocal link exchanges with link farms. Some of them have had these links for over a year, and it's allowing them to place at the top of Google's SERPs for many competitive keyword searches.

I don't believe that this is in compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines, but my company sees this strategy working for our competitors, and is wondering if they should take a similar approach. Anyone have any advice? It's very frustrating to know that our competitors are getting away with this.

[edited by: SEOcean at 3:26 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]

[edited by: physics at 5:02 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]
[edit reason] Removed domains, please review [webmasterworld.com...] [/edit]



 5:24 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Welcome to Webmaster World!

They maybe at the top now, but they might not stay there for long. Cheating your way to the top doesn't mean you'll stay there long.

You need to concentrate on getting links to your site, from related, high ranking pages. Natural link building is what search engines like. So dont get 200+ links within a week, that is seen as unnatural. Focus on getting links you would want to link to anyway

hope that helps



 6:34 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

it's allowing them to place at the top of Google's SERPs for many competitive keyword searches

It's really hard to know that for a fact. It's impossible to if in fact these links are carrying any weight; the SEs are getting pretty good at discounting certain types of links. Have you done a thorough backlink profile for any of your competitors? Maybe these links are only a small part of the total.


 9:42 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've done a backlink profile, and I'm fairly confident that these links are playing a very large role in our competitors' success in the natural search results.

However, more than anything else, I'm interested in finding out whether or not our competitors linking practices are kosher (for lack of a better term). They all have hundreds of inbound links from sites that are not really related to their product offerings, and most of them have PR2 or less. Does anyone have any advice on whether this is a safe approach to link-building, or is this just a time bomb that will eventually result in their removal from the SERPs?


 11:01 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

hi there,

i believe your competitors' links are from 2003-4 where it was normal to exchange with anyone one could find. the reciprocal links work till now but that does not mean you can still do much with them. Of course, many of fellow members will say "recips work!" but that is not entire truth.
you won't fly high with recips only.... unless you are going for [top food ideas for my little dog and a bit bigger cat] sort of keywords.
you'd be better off if you just bought links on relevant sites directly to your sites. 10-20k a month should do the trick


 6:31 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

There are no absolutes in link building, or SEO for that matter. Without knowing more about your site (age, # of links currently, etc.) it's hard to say what a good course would be and the level or risk you'd be undertaking. What would work for a 6 year old site with 50,000 links and 1100 .edus may not be a good strategy for a brand new site.

With that said, when dealing with competitors sites that have plenty of recips like you mentioned, it's common that a few of them are actually relevant link partners and those are the links that are probably passing the majority of the weight. I think Google is more advanced then counting or discounting all recips. They are looking for relevant links and are likely discounting the non-relevant recips and counting the relevant ones. The hard part is finding the ones that are relevant.

You could try utilizing various linkdomain commands in Yahoo such as linkdomain:competitorssite.com "key phrase" or linkdomain:competitorssite.com inurl:"keyword" or something similar. This can at least help narrow the field of sites likely to be good link partners.

Let me know if you have any questions and I hope this helps.


 9:58 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>>It's very frustrating to know that our competitors are getting away with this... we're looking to start our first link-building campaign.

Start your link building campaign first, and do it better. You are doing well in taking your first steps toward earning your place in the SERPs. Start your link campaign and do it better.

Good luck.


 2:49 pm on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the helpful input. I know that those links don't hold as much value as inbound links that are from quality, relevant sites. However, do you think what our competitors are doing is something that would warrant a search engine penalty, or is it ok to have hundreds of reciprocal links from link-farmy sites that aren't relevant to their sites?


 3:37 pm on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't say that it 'warrants' a SE penalty, but link profiles built on recips are more likely to lose their rankings due to Google discounting them, penalizing them, or something entirely different.


 4:42 pm on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

is it ok to have hundreds of reciprocal links from link-farmy sites that aren't relevant to their sites

It's mostly a matter of proportion. I did a quick backlink check of one of the sites you originally posted and found close to 300,000. There's no way of knowing the quality of all the 300K links, but the question is how do hundreds of so-so links compare to maybe some thousands of okay links?

As martinibuster said, work on your own quality backlink profile and you'll have much more success in the long run.


 10:31 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

They may be 'getting away with it' - but that doesn't mean you will - or that they will forever.

If their links are old, they may have been devalued to a degree, but it seems they haven't triggered a filter. If you did it tomorrow, however, now that the algo is tighter, you'll have a much higher risk of annihilation.

And, sooner or later, probably next time they push their luck, they'll go too.

We don't know EXACTLY how Google ticks, or why some sites seem to walk on water for a long time. But check out these forums and you'll find many many threads of people who 'have done nothing lately' being wiped out in Google while doing well elsewhere. Most of them will be folk with link problems, perhaps pushed over the edge by a few bad links getting worse, after teetering on the edge for ages. Once you start swapping with cr*p, how will you know if it just got cr*ppier?

Or maybe they just got reported.

No-one can say 'don't do it'; no-one can say it's safe. I'd suggest it's not a risk worth taking, when so much circumstantial evidence says Google doesn't like those practices.

If it's a site with an income, consider your options carefully!


 7:26 pm on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

go with contextual text links ads.

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