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1) Will inbound links off the theme of my site negatively impact my pagerank in Google (or Inktomi or AV)?
2) Will outbound links that are off the theme of my site negatively impact my pagerank in Google (or Inktomi or AV)?
3) Should I setup separately themed link-swap pages so that I have one on-theme link-swap page, keeping the off-theme links on off-theme pages?
4) Should I refuse reciprocal link requests with sites that are not on-theme?
Why do I ask? I am a sales trainer, and I want to swap links with other sites. I understand that best links are those that are on-theme to sales training (sales tips, selling skills, etc.). Some of these will be hard to get due to the competitive nature of the businesses and the personalities involved.
However I can also get links from other sites that are not focused on this theme. For example, I know a lot of public speakers who I can swap links with. if I swapped links with lot of public speakers would this change the perceived theme of my site to the search engines (because there would be a bunch of sites themed "public speaking" aimed at my site.
I already have some excellent rankings in Google, AV, and MSN because I focused on a Theme, and got Yahoo and Looksmart to categorize me the way I wanted to (still waiting on DMOZ). I want to go after more links now as part of a long-term strategy. I don't want to shoot myself in the foot, by including the wrong kinds of links if it matters.
The positive of doing some of these off-theme links is that it will bring in some additional semi-relevant traffic.
Suggestion: for all links, but particularly your off-theme ones, try to be sure you have good, keyword-based link text. Remember the "dumb m***********" links that made the G W Bush Jr site #1 for that keyword - presumably, all of those sites were about other topics, but the text alone did the job.
It is actually like that for almost all businesses on the web. Any site that sells something or sells a service will not want to post a link, usually, to a site that sells the same service [because they don't realize it can help their site, and if someone was really going to buy it off them, they still would]
The sites that drive me crazy are the ones who won't link, not because of competitive reasons, but rather, "If I have links on my site, people might leave."
How the links affect your theme probably has more of an impact when as you go for high rankings under more competitive phrases.
This is my "educated speculation". I haven't been able to find a definitive answer on this yet.
My go-forward plan will be to have separately themed link pages. This way if I ever determine it to be a problem, I can drop the non-themed links easily.
Also, I am considering excluding the non-themed links pages in the robots.txt file. I don't know if this matters though because Google at least seems to ignore what I tell them to stay out of in this file.
I would be tempted to change your link text to "dumb m***********" if it wouldn't dilute my own theme. ;)
The best strategy seems to be to pursue relevant links - duh.
Thanks for the input. :)
Something I had shied away from in the past was using outbound text links on my index page - I used a seperate links page previously, as you do. However, I've managed to get over this fear and we are now outbound linking to sites from our index page - chosen due to the fact that they have a lot of inbound links and rank highly in Google and, most importantly, on-topic.
If I get really brave - and I can feel it coming - I may even link directly to some of my direct competition at the bottom of the index page where I now have a list of links. The potential boost that may be obtained in Google (and others), should outweigh the embarrasment and loss of someone actually clicking on a link and purchasing from the competition (also, the text links do not need to mention the competitions' brand names which people can relate to - but just something on-topic). If you want to create a true 'hub', I think you have to try this where possible.
Sacrifice the unecessary off-topic links (especially on your index page, in favour of quality and popular on-topic links. The few porr quality hits you mentioned you might get are not worth as much as a sufficient rankings boost.
I made that one up - 'In my case anyway'. unless someone else thought of it previously - not that I'll be using it again.
Can anyone help me further my somewhat basic knowledge of the hub theory.
I am no expert on the 'hub'. I read a little about it (wish I could remember where - possibly in a Google announcement) and it seems very logical to me - and a sound basis for the SE's to assume high relevance of a site to a subject. It all ties in with creating a theme, which can't be a bad thing, and it takes the basic concept of a local theme and widens its scope. You are putting yourself right in the middle of a subject - as opposed to being just another site on the periphery.
No results to report as yet - its early days.
I fear my understanding of the hub may be rather simplistic (or maybe it is that simple??) and I would appreciate any further views on this.
Strategizing my next website version with the cross-site theme in mind vs. just page optimization is like a light-bulb exploding.
Thanks again to everyone who has posted on this thread to help me.
I consider it in addition to. You still need a well optimized page, it's just that we take all of those well optimized pages as a whole now and not just separate pieces that can work on their own :)