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Automated Link Exchange Backlash

Is Link Popularity Broken?

     
8:05 am on Jul 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In another thread someone posted this opinion:

The people that use automated scripting mechanisms are email spammers and are damaging the chances of the quality sites that do exist.

  • Is this a case of a good tool used badly?
  • Are some webmasters taking the quest for backlinks to the level of Unsolicited Commercial Email?

Developing backlinks is a cornerstone of most web endeavors. No links, no loving. There are many solutions, including paying for links, outsourcing development, and automated link hunting solutions.

Some feel the quest for links has been taken too far. The comments about this remind me of the steroid scandal rocking international sports. Is Link Popularity Broken?

2:01 pm on July 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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*Some feel the quest for links has been taken too far.*

A whole industry has grown to feed this frenzy......

What mystifies me is what little use G seems to have made of 5 years experience of link "management", I can only assume there's a "cunning plan" somewhere to nullify an increasingly ludicrous situation....

5:51 pm on July 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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...an increasingly ludicrous situation....

Well, if two thousand webmasters think it's a good thing to link to your website, what difference does it make if I used automated means to achieve the end?

Can two thousand webmasters be wrong?

6:56 pm on July 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What if those automated means annoyed 20,000 or 200,000 other webmasters along the way?

What if they cursed you as clueless wretch?

Would they be wrong?

8:36 pm on July 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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*what difference does it make if I used automated means to achieve the end?*

In view of some of the ridiculous requests for reciprocation I've seen from automated programmes, I doubt the end is ever achieved... and hope it isn't.

9:13 pm on July 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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There's a difference between "automated" and "assisted by automation", and in my opinion that's where a lot of would-be link hunters go astray.

You can use automated methods to help you:
- scout for sites that might be suitable to request links from
- keep your campaign organized.

You need human judgement to:
- assess whether each site is in fact a well-matched, well-targeted candidate for a link request. Skimp here and you're guaranteed to cause offense.
- read their instructions for how to suggest links. (ditto)
- identify who is the most suitable person to write to. (ditto)
- actually write an artful link letter (ditto)

2:28 am on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What mystifies me is what little use G seems to have made of 5 years experience of link "management", I can only assume there's a "cunning plan" somewhere to nullify an increasingly ludicrous situation....

Links are quarantined or "sandboxed" now.

5:58 am on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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yeah, what buckworks say, right on.

I think graywolf is right about links being sandboxed and not sites themselves. It is my impression that the counting of links has been delayed to prevent a growing fad called "google bombing" (which actually started 2 or 3 years ago).

NEVERtheless, counting links to valuate a page's worth is NOT going away. If anything, the value of links is becoming more important.

Getting good incoming links is the bane of every webmaster. It is time-consuming, tedious, and frustrating. It is also, and will be for the foreseeable future, well-rewarded.

I've had people jump down my throat just because I mention that I use an automated solution to obtain links, you'd think we'd be spared from such luddites even having access to an internet connection, but luddites come in all degrees I suppose. An automated solution for obtaining links does not equate to spam, not if stick with buckworks recommendations. There is simply no substitute for the descretion of the human mind and individual site review.

For those that do use automated link solutions and use them in full-auto mode, they'll get spam complaints and lose their hosting accounts. No big deal. You act like an idiot, you get treated like an idiot, what's the problem?

A few bad apples give the rest of us a bad rep. Yes, it's a case of a good tool used poorly. Yes, some webmasters have taken it to the point of seeking links on such a scale that they are sending email spam. And an emphatic NO, link pop is not going away, not this year, the next, or even two years from now. After that, it's anybody's guess.

IMHO a lot of the problem comes from people who find link-building to be too difficult of a task to cope with and they do their naysaying in the hopes that all the efforts other people have put into link-building will be for naught, like if they wish for something hard enough it'll come true. Well, someone's got to hold those places on page 3 and down in the SERPs.

I don't care what your keyword is, but if you'll check the backlinks to the #1 site it'll have more links than the #2 site, and #2 will have more than #3, and so on and so forth, on down the SERPs. That's just the way it is. That's the field you play on. If you want to move up, get links, but play nicely and be polite, and you won't have any problems.

10:31 am on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>>> Getting good incoming links is the bane of every webmaster.

I don't know about you lot but i like linking for my company and my new personal website, I like seeing it grow and become useful! Not SEO'd for search engines but for the people who will browse the site!

Just do it for your readers and the se will come :)

(thats kinda romanesque, lol)

11:46 am on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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*Links are quarantined or "sandboxed" now.*

IMO, a temporary exclusion from the calcs with no other action, does not a cunning plan make... ;-)

There's wholesale counterfeiting of the google currency going on, at what stage do they scrap it and introduce a new one?

2:17 pm on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Getting good incoming links is the bane of every webmaster. It is time-consuming, tedious, and frustrating. It is also, and will be for the foreseeable future, well-rewarded.

I don't agree. :-) It's possible to automatically get good incoming links. If you (as a website owner) automate the process of swapping links with other webmasters you will get a lot of incoming links -- with no work at all! It's really that easy... I know, because I work at a company offering such a (free) service. :-)

2:21 pm on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you (as a website owner) automate the process of swapping links with other webmasters you will get a lot of incoming links -- with no work at all!

Okay, how much value do you think there is in a link sitting on a automatically generated directory style page with no PageRank and no exposure and mixed in with who knows how many other links? What purpose does that link serve?

The days of automated link exchange are dead. Google caught on quite a while ago. That is why you see so many link directories out there collecting dust with no PageRank and no love!

2:47 pm on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Okay, how much value do you think there is in a link sitting on a automatically generated directory style page with no PageRank and no exposure and mixed in with who knows how many other links? What purpose does that link serve?

:-) I agree that such a link does not serve any purpose.

In our system, only incoming links that also give visitors will get a link back. A link that sits on a generated directory page doesn't give any visitors - and therefore doesn't get any link back.

Instead of checking the that the referring webpage has a high PR, we count visitors. Often lots of visitors == high PR. It could also mean that the link has a good position on the referring page.

2:54 pm on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld referer.

You bring up another kind of automated exchange. Problems generally associated with automated reciprocal links come down to the FFA nature of them. FFA's are notoriously bad neighborhoods.

7:18 pm on July 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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neuron makes an excellent case for not being afraid of automating the link development process. Let's face it, your email client can be used as a tool for bothering people. But with proper use, it can be an agent of good.

I'm not advocating the use of them, but I am asking, is it time for link dev tools to come out of the closet?

3:01 am on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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is it time for link dev tools to come out of the closet?

Only if they are clearly marked "Use only with adult supervision."

I'm familiar with several of these solutions. In fact, I use more than one along with some in-house developed stuff.

They way they come out of the box they're geared for 15 to 30 minutes of application review before being put in use. The default settings leave much to be desired and will get you in trouble quickly. I've never shot one of my toes off or anything but I've an old high school buddy that's shot himself twice. You play with one of these apps right out of the box and you can get in serious trouble fast. These guys are trying to sell software so they tout the full-auto features and that's what people expect to use when they buy them. The software should come with its settings labeled "Full-Auto High-Risk", "Semi-Auto Medium Risk", and "Sniper-Mode Low-Risk", but it doesn't and the average user is going to feel she's paid her dues when she buys it and wants fast results.

The softs are only as good as their users. It takes hours not minutes to learn to operate them properly.

9:02 am on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>I'm not advocating the use of them, but I am asking, is it time for link dev tools to come out of the closet?

Please MB! It is time for them to come out of the closet and head straight for the drain.

Right now I personally feel ashamed to be associated with you folks! This is a strong statement! I feel you think I want to **** myself along with those that agree with this behavior?

For the record, if you send me an email of any type that is not personally written, does not contain a phone number where I can contact you, does not show you have an appreciation of my site, does not show you have an appreciation of why we should partner......then "eas in crucem!"

We should reach for the stars, not settle for the lazy bum solutions!

4:01 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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percentages <<<< Im with this guy :)

hunderdown

6:47 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The other side of the coin: Speaking as a frequent recipient of link exchange requests, I would estimate that fewer than 10% come from sites to which I might conceivably want to link. Some are almost laughably off-target.

Since my site policies clearly state that I don't DO link exchanges, I guess many of these requests came from use of these programs. I give them a standard response--"I don't do link exchanges but I'll check out your site eventually"--and put the possibly relevant ones in a folder for follow-up, if I ever have the time. The others I just delete.

7:28 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The only link requests I've received I'd catagorize as spam. They're unsolicited requests from sites that are completely unrelated. I'd guess most of them just go down a list of active domains and send a request to every webmaster@.
7:49 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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*Links are quarantined or "sandboxed" now.*
IMO, a temporary exclusion from the calcs with no other action, does not a cunning plan make... ;-)

There's wholesale counterfeiting of the google currency going on, at what stage do they scrap it and introduce a new one?

This could have a use if they sandbox it, count how many links are obtained how quickly, determine if a healthy share of the new links come from sites that contain certain scripts that allow anonymous registration w/ link, and boom you have an algo that can detect automated link methods.

8:15 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Recently I noticed increased amount of requests that ask for link exchange without first placing my link on their pages. If I open a message and in first 200 ms don't see URL for page where my site is placed, these go to trash next 100 ms.

R

8:20 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If sites say they have recip. links that it is fine to group them together and use a tool to request them.

I look at every link request and maybe accept 2% of them (the ones on target) that would add value to my users

8:33 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Why not this email:

Subject: We placed a link to (your site) at XYZ.com

Body: "We found your site and thought it would be beneficial to our vistors to place a link to it on our website. Our website is about xyz. Here's a link to the page where we placed a link to your site and the description and link anchor text. If you would prefer that we employ different anchor text, or not link to your site at all, please let us know as we like to be accomodating. Thank-you."

Now, is this UCE? It makes no request. Seeks no compensation nor quid pro quo. It's truthful. Probably would not fit within definition of unsolicited commercial email if intentioned as stated: No quid quo pro sought. If you derive a benefit or an offer for a recip, fine.

As always, evil abounds so someone will take an idea like this and turn it into rubble. Maybe a return to the past will redeem this situation. Create quality and people will link to it.

8:51 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Create quality and people will link to it.

That's the bottom line right there! I don't mind those emails every now and then where someone contacts me to verify that they've linked to a particular area of a site that I manage. If there is no evidence of link begging in the email, I might just visit the site where the link is.

These days, I only link to sites that the client has suggested or those sites that I find of benefit to the client or my own properties. Don't send me an automated link exchange request. I have a special folder for those and I've been saving them for the past few years. I think there might be at least 500 or so in there for just one of the sites that I manage.

Google started all this! They created a whole new industry when they released PageRank. ;)

9:14 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Subject: We placed a link to (your site) at XYZ.com

Body: "We found your site and thought it would be beneficial to our vistors to place a link to it on our website. Our website is about xyz. Here's a link to the page where we placed a link to your site and the description and link anchor text. If you would prefer that we employ different anchor text, or not link to your site at all, please let us know as we like to be accomodating. Thank-you.

That's nice. Spam? I wouldn't call it spam.

I've pondered using something similar for links in a resources section I'm very slowly working on. What I'd really like is for the sites I'm linking to to tell me what categories they'd like to be listed in, and what description they'd like.

Not critical at all, but it would be nice.

Then again, why should they bother?

9:36 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We should reach for the stars, not settle for the lazy bum solutions!

Is it possible to agree with someone AND disagree with them at the same time?

Some projects outgrow hitting the send button on a link request late into the night. It's an arms race.

11:01 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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ken_b > Hmmmm. Looks like spam to me. >;->

If there isn't at least one paragraph or preferably two about my site and why they want to link to it, where's the assurance that the same email hasn't just been sent out to at least 100 million other people?

If the person on the other end can't even adapt their own automated correspondence, what's the point in talking to them?

11:58 pm on July 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Ronin; I wouldn't consider that email spam, others might, that's fine with me.

If I recall right I've done exactly 2 recips where the subject was actually linking, both of those were with WW members.

That's not to say I don't have other recips on my site, but linking wasn't part of the conversation. Those were simply email conversations asking about something on my site (photos, facts, corrections etc) that led me to look at the other parties site and then decide to link to them because it was something my visitors might find interesting or useful. Sometimes they link to me too, maybe for the same reasons, I don't know, because I don't ask.

Generally I don't ask someone if I can link to their site. If I want to I do. If they want to link to me, they do.

I don't send automated anything. I get some automated stuff. I look at the site. Someday I may actually get an automated link exchange email about a site I actually want to link to. Hasn't happened yet though that I recall.

I may actually use some automation someday. Not really likely, but not impossible I suppose.

12:16 am on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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While I agree that a personalised email which is from an on topic site and with a specific mention of my site is not spam, I DO consider the generic "Dear Webmaster" recip requests from a completely off topic site to be borderline.
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