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How does Google feel about Link Exchange Directories now?

8:55 pm on Jul 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I know old news right? But is it? I am telling you guys, I continue to see competitors creep up in front of me and I have been wondering how they are doing it.

I write great content at least 4 times a week, have gotten several good links to some of my articles. My link profile is pretty strong, but I still get passed by lame ass sites that have little content and poor links.

I started to look in really deep how these guys are doing it and noticed that 5 out of 8 of my major competitors are still using links exchanges, but not as you think. They are receiving links but not reciprocating them on their links page.

Well how are they doing that?

I am sure some of you have heard of these automated link exchanges sites or reciprocal link Exchange directories (cannot post URL here put pm me for example). Where you sign up, add your link to the directory and then you get e-mails from the directory notifying you someone wants to swap links with you. Well, there is an option in many of these directories where you can say:

“Add my site first before you request a link exchange from me”

The funny part is, allot of these sites request a link exchange from you, add your link first and if you do not respond a large percentage of them just leave your link on their links page. They most likely forget and move on. I have verified this with several sites in these directories.

My main questions is:

Do you guys think Google sees link exchanges, or using these link exchange directories as spammy or negative for rankings?

Do you think it can cause a penalty?

I am real careful these days, Google is handing out penalties for any small shift these days, that it scares me to even edit the content on a few outdated pages, or change the title of an un optimized page etc…..

Thoughts, opinions?

11:33 pm on July 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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There are a few ways of looking at this:

1. What are the engineers at Google trying to do
2. What are they saying publicly
3. What is the reality right now

We know that Google's pubic statements discourage link exchange practices. But they don't say you will definitely be penalized, not for reciprocal links and not for appearing in a directory. If the directory is specifically dedicated to link exchanges, and it's online for the purpose of improved ranking - then there's a good chance you'll get no Google value out of it.

If it's a paid service that publishes any website that pays, you are on the edge of a penalty. You are also giving Google a clear signal that you want to manipulate the search results. If you do start to rank on a competitive phrase, odds are you will geet a manual inspection and they won't like this part of what they see.

Still, in many cases, these practices are creating links that just get discounted, in my opinion. Reciprocal links were around before Google was around, and they appear to be helpful, within a certain limit.

If you really want to compete on high value searches, then you'll need some links from good sites who really like your offering and want to show it to their visitors. That's what it takes. There is no magic method that works for very long except for getting those high quality links.
7:57 am on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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And keep in mind there have been repeated reports of Google employees saying links from directories can be okay. If there is a quality review process, which involves rejection of sites regardless of whether or not they pay, then it is more likely the directory is going to provide some SEO benefit. I would not regard link exchange directories as having a "quality review process". However, there are plenty of good directories that can provide some benefit by having a listing.