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Another site recently refused to exchange links with me because I didn't have a "proper" linking structure, in which all the links pages are linked to each other. The reason they gave was that the interlinking would raise the PR for the links pages.
I have two sites, one mostly PR3, the other mostly PR6. Both sites have the same structure:
5 or 6 fully interlinked core pages, including a links page.
On links page, there is a directory of themed pages that actually have the links on them.
The themed pages all have links back to the core pages, but do not link to each other.
The only page that points to each themed page is the links page.
The PR of the themed pages is one less than the PR of pages in the rest of the site.
I used this linking structure because I want to keep the number of outgoing links per themed page below 10-15. This means lots of themed pages, and so if they're all interlinked it means that I have to update tons of pages each time I add a new themed page. As I create more sites, this could get out of hand quickly.
I'd originally wanted the other guys to link to the PR2/3 site, but figuring they were worried about PR, I suggested the PR5/6 site. But they declined that too, apparently because of the linking structure.
That just doesn't make sense to me. They'd be willing to accept a link from a "properly" linked PR2 page, but not from an "improperly" linked PR5 page. Would anyone here take the same stance? And if so, why?
Even if it's the competition, I'll still add it if their site adds useful content, or another perspective, apart from my own.
If a site owner reciprocates with a link, I might beef up my description of his site, but mostly I look for the value of the site to my visitors. I wouldn't dream of telling another webmaster how to link his own pages internally, although I might give advice if asked.
As for only linking to sites with certain PR value or higher, there are two perfectly good sites that I refuse to link to because they refused to link to my site when it was new and had no PR value. Now my own site is of a higher PR than their's and comes in #2 in the SERPs. In the long run, I believe that PR snobbishness is self-defeating.
So far, this hasn't reached up and bitten me; nor do I expect it to.
When I find a site that complments my content, I add it. If I think that my site compliments theirs, I ask if they would add me. (I've been known to ask for a link on a specific word(s) in a specific paragraph where I could justify that my site's information would benefit their site's visitors).
When someone else asks for a link I use the same criteria, and I put the link where I think it best fits on my site.
Demanding people get the brush off. People clearly trying to use me to boost their own rankings fit in this category.
I came across a site purporting to build a directory covering my area. I contacted them to add my site. The response was a demand to add a link to their site from my homepage, including the required HTML. They got a not so polite, "Thanks but no thanks..." Now, I might very well have added their link to my site as an industry resource in the appropriate area, but instead they got nothing. Their loss or mine?
I agree with the opinions expressed on Webmasterworld that we should focus on building a world class site that serves our visitors, rather than chasing the illusive page rank through endless linking strategies. Just as every other trick to beat the algos has been countered by the SE's, so will these linking strategies. Just give it time. The SE's want to provide searchers with high quality sites providing good content. Do that, and over time your site will rank well and continue ranking well. Just look at all the whining whenever an algo is tweaked. Those people were caught in the winds of change because they did not build a good foundation to start with.
So, we start fresh with a situation…. and such a tempting title. Great discussion, great comments.
It’s refreshing to be able to say I see little wrong with your plan and as with every plan, it takes time to grow. Don’t let rejection get you down. Move on. The right partners will get what you are doing and want to link up. As long as there is a link from the main domain page to the directory, I wouldn’t worry more then that about the PR. If your directory lends itself to linking back to the documentation, graphics, and information on your on site then I would encourage adding those entries as listings when applicable. Visa versa if you have a directory page that offers resources complimentary to an informational page on your site then it’s perfectly reasonable to link to it.
The warning bells go off with comments like, “Both sites have the same structure”. No-no. Mix it up, not for the search engines but for the sake of competition. Not everyone needs that information but some do.
The sites don't have exactly the same structure, just the same kind of directory section and the same way of linking to it. The other pages depend on the product being promoted on the site & the information that needs to go with it, and I'm slowly building this part up.
I'm sure it would be better to find a way to incorporate the links without a directory, but at the same time I don't want to make it too easy for customers to leave the site. Will have to think of a way around that.
Thanks for the suggestion about linking back to my site in the directory, paynt, I had done this a bit, but could add more. I can see this will be an ongoing process!