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Link exchanges: The poor man's SEO (CNet article)

11:21 pm on Jul 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Have you guys seen this article from CNet and on cnn.com home page about link exchanges?

[cnn.com ]

Do you agree with their conclusion that link exchanges can help your page rank as long as you follow some simple rules (exchange links with similar topics, dont pay for links, dont link to bad neighborhoods)?

Previously, I had come to the conclusion that unless a site wanted to exchange links with you that had as-high or higher page rank, the link wouldn't do any good and could potentially hurt you. I've been turning down link exchange requests for year. Have I missed the boat on this one?

9:21 pm on July 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I've been turning down link exchange requests for year. Have I missed the boat on this one?

Yes. But you can always turn your boat around!

I've been explaining the proper way to go about link exchange here on WebmasterWorld since 2006. There is a wrong way to do it and there is a correct and acceptable way to do it.

  • DON'T link in high volume (over a dozen or more a day on a continuous basis).
  • DON'T link with irrelevant sites. Ask yourself, "does this site I am about to link with benefit my end user?" If it does, GET THE LINK.
  • DONíT make linking decisions based on what you think it will do for your search rankings.
  • DONíT refuse a link because the link partner has low page rank. A new site with low page rank today will be an older site with higher page rank tomorrow.
  • DONíT make linking decisions based on metrics. Always make linking decisions based solely on if itís a good link resource for your traffic.
  • DON'T use full duplex products or services that guarantee links or force you to link without your editorial discretion.
  • DONíT send out long winded link exchange requests via email with a list of stipulations.

  • DO link in low natural volume. That means get one link today, none the next day, three the next day, none for the next few days, five the next day, none for a week, and so on.. The search engines are TRENDING THE RATE AT WHICH YOU ARE ACQUIRING LINKS. They can detect high volume games. Maintain a natural link development rate. Remember a typical retail store will not normally get a high number of links in a short period of time unless you are selling a proven anti aging cream or proven cure for cancer.
  • DO link with relevant sites. If you arenít sure the link opportunity is relevant, ignore the link request and move on.
  • DO manage and organize your links. Itís perfectly ok to use software to manage linking but make sure it is EDITOR BASED. Avoid full duplex software that guarantees links.
  • DO use a ďsuggest link formĒ to act as a receiver of link requests. Funnel those requests to your link building manager. This way a legitimate relevant link request does not fall through the cracks. Editor based link management software will typically provide a suggest link form for you. Make sure to customize the form for your campaign.

    1st and foremost:
    Remember that link building via link exchange is a BRANDING FUNCTION first. Every time your link is published on the web, your site's name is being published. Just because a link isnít clicked on does not mean it doesnít serve other purposes.

    Linking is a TRAFFIC BUILDING function. If you have 500 relevant links, you are very likely to receive highly qualified traffic through those links. Itís good to not be 100% dependent on search engines for traffic.

    Sure we all know that link building has an effect on search rankings. Thatís gravy. If you link exchange in low volume with sites relevant to yours, you can get a brand new website to rank within weeks.

    Link exchange got a bad wrap a few years ago when some webmasters abused it. All marketing methods on the web have been abused at one time or another. Just because search engines have said ďavoid excessive reciprocal linkingĒ doesnít mean you should avoid it all together.

    The above referenced CNET article is well written and right on target. Link and be linked to! Use editor based link management software if you wish. Avoid the full duplex programs and guarantees on making links.

  • 1:53 am on July 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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    Although I agree (and do myself) I do not totally agree with...
    "DONíT refuse a link because the link partner has low page rank. A new site with low page rank today will be an older site with higher page rank tomorrow."

    I see many sites close within a year. They have the illusion of having an idea on monday, make a site tuesday, go live wednesday, and get sales on thursday.

    I won't exchange links until they are in good standing with the search engines. [pages cached, not penalised etc.]

    I do not have time to write lengthy emails to people who want exchanges. A lot of them have no idea about linking to related sites only, and don't do this, that or the other.

    Nor do I have the time to keep checking to see if they haven't diverted off the track, gone under, or changed theme etc.

    Everything else I agree with. :)

    11:24 pm on July 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    When I first started out I was just intent on getting links. Over the years I`ve gotten far more choosy, and now rarely do a reciprocal link.
    6:28 am on July 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    If it's a brand new site, it still has potential to get lots of links and content over time. So being there wouldn't hurt in the long run.

    I admire your optimism. But what you refer to seldom does. The mere fact that so many take the "lets trade links so that hopefully one day I will be worthy of being linked to" approach is a clear indicator that it is more logical to delete those emails then to consider them. The time I would of wasted would simply not be worth it.

    12:32 am on July 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    But how do you get a link from one of those sites? Google's official advice: "The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community." That, of course, sounds like something your mother would say.

    It's amusing to see that some people simply refuse to believe this is true, even when it comes straight from the source. Some people figure there just has to be a way to trick Google...

    Large Internet companies spend millions on consultants and technology trying to get their sites to rank among the highest results on Google.

    This reminds me of the lazy guy who spends two hours trying to figure out a way to get out of an hour's worth of work. At $25/article (expensive) a company can produce 40,000 high quality articles for $1M. Ten years from now, those articles will still be there, while the SEO efforts will be long forgotten. Meanwhile, those articles will have spread their roots far and wide, and will have garnered hundreds of thousands of inbound links. It seems to me that has to be worth a lot more than a number one position for a few weeks or a few months.

    2:39 am on July 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    WebmasterWorld Senior Member dstiles is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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    And again, of course, google's link policy is flawed.

    I design/host a few "personal", "community" and shopping sites that will never get many links to them because the people who (frequently!) visit do not have web sites on which to post those links.

    Lots of useful content but who will link to them? A handful of directories and that's about it. And I refuse to go chasing up irrelevant links for them.

    On the other hand, because they list well in SEs (despite having very few links!) we get a respectable amount of traffic.

    8:06 pm on July 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    I'm with tonynoriega and lifeinasia...that's how I work. I used to do LE's but found that so many people removed your link after X time or even added nofollows when they thought you weren't looking that I ditched them and link to whom I want purely for value.

    Also the concept is flawed. Any ranking factor that can be manipulated is living on borrowed time IMO. It's always been a major factor, but it should steadily decline as algos get more intelligent. Just logic.

    12:24 pm on July 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    I think link exchanges still have a place in SEO, however, I don't dedicate as much time to it in 2009 as I did say five or six years ago when I started out.

    I have undertaken link exchange campaigns in the past 12 months that have worked and given the said sites good rankings.

    It is the age old debate about relevancy and quality of your partners.

    Google looks at links, always has and (fingers crossed) always will do, exchanges is one such (effective) way of acquiring them if done well. However, to reitterate, it is not the best imo.

    12:45 pm on July 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    I'm wondering what people are doing ELSE to get links.

    Okay, you can spend a lot of time and/or money to get a high-quality-content, but this gives you only a vertain amount of links - your competitor ranks still before you. I have written 8 small helpfull appications for your PC (which are really helpfull everybody's telling me), but after a link-analysis, I got exactly 12 links in the last 12 month for that.

    Now you start exchanging links, but as it said above, it takes a lot of time and it's tricky. Okay. But thats it - what else can you do if your competitor still ranks before you? The only thing I can imagine is building up domains after domains on your own to link to your site.

    3:22 pm on July 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    If your content is that good you can simply ask people for inbound links (no exchange involved). It's working for me on my latest site (contains an online tool that is unique in my niche). Little time to spend on link requests but I'm getting 1-2 a week and now starting to get unsolicited links from the traffic the solicited links brings.

    If you know your topic well, you can also engage constructively in blogs and forums in your niche with links back from profiles etc.

    It's not as if the only options are quality-content-and-they-will-come vs quick-site-exchange-links-like-topsy.

    9:41 pm on July 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    You can't always get people to link to you - many sites have customers who do not have web sites! I suspect this applies in cangoou's case, from his mention of: "...helpfull appications for your PC..."

    As I said earlier: this is one of the many major failings of google's linking scheme. You either pay for links, either in cash or in kind, which google frowns upon and which means no natural links, or you have very few links at all.

    12:13 pm on Aug 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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    it's more surprised that CNN are talking about SEO.although the suggest about exchanging link is common.
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