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Does Google see links.htm, links.html, links.php etc any differently to links pages named say my-friends.html?
What's the current consensus?
Should I refuse link exchanges with link.htm pages?
Thanks in advance
It depends upon your purpose for link exchange. If it is for gaining link popularity, especiall PR, then the answer could be both YES and NO.
Since it is a widespread phenomenon that links.**** does not show up as backlink, it sounds very negative. It is not certain whether links.**** is ignored totally or partially. Many people are also not sure whether there is any PR being passed. On the other hand, Google may "pretend" to ignore it, by not showing it as backlinks.
Personally I don't believe that G ignores links.xxx totally, but PR being passed is heavily discounted. For example, a PR5 link with other file name such as resources may pass PR3 to a destined page whereas PR5 links.xxx may pass only PR1 when all else equal (The PR value is just for illustration).
Then back to your question...If I were in your shoes, the answer is NO, if the links.xxx has little PR. The answer is YES, if the links.xxx has great PR at least PR5 or more with limited no. of links. This is based upon an assumption that we don't know for sure which side would turn out to be the winner, so exchange with only high PR links.xxx should be a safe move.
December '03 we had PR6 then PR5 now PR4 ;(
Google's number of backlinks for the site dropped dramatically over this time. I am assuming it was all the links.**** pages (I should have kept a better record)
Over the last month, I've gotten a few really good backlinks on links.**** pages (on topic, PR6 & less than 10 links on the page) but I still can't get my PR back up.
Conversly, the site has consistently appeared higher and higher in the SERPS and we're getting more and more hits from google searches, so I don't really have too much to complain about.
I've changed the "rules" on my site so that we don't accept reciprocal links from pages called links.**** as we don't have links.**** pages and fair is fair.
I hope I'm not being too harsh.
It's really rather odd. I don't know what exactly these people are trying to accomplish by putting links to my at-best-tangentially-related educational site on a 0-PR links page. Trying to look like a hub without 'losing' PR from the site, maybe? Or maybe these were real link pages at some point, but because of their indiscriminate linking to irrelevant authority sites Google's algorithm has punished them? *scratching my head*