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Is it time to do link Exchange Again?

     
7:18 pm on Apr 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I was wondering if it was time to revisit link exchange as means of gaining traffic to your site. Exchanging links with other websites in that niche could bring some relevant traffic. So I checked out my old link program Linksmanager here is what I found


LinksManager was born on August 1, 1998 before Google went online. LinksManager was designed and patented to manage the chore of linking. It was never designed or marketed to be a Search Engine Optimization product.

It was with great sadness that I put LinksManager to sleep on October 31, 2014. I simply could not stop the influx of cancellations coming in from customers preoccupied about comments made specifically to them by Google employees telling website operators to stop linking between websites. I reached out to Google via Fedex and their switchboard many times to discuss the matter. They never took my calls or replied to my sincere questions and comments. Not once.


source [linksmanager.com...]

Surely penalisation of link exchange to similar niche websites is restriction of trade isn't it?

[edited by: brotherhood_of_LAN at 9:22 pm (utc) on Apr 27, 2015]
[edit reason] shortened quote [/edit]

3:57 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I won't say that every endeavor I've ever done would be considered completely white hat (after all, how do you know how or if something works unless you test it) but at the end of the day, trying to keep ahead of Google with tricks and tactics took just as much time and effort as just coming up with a sustainable strategy in the first place. Plus it was just plain exhausting.
4:28 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Even white hat has left me cleaning up for a months. One of my editors published content that was originally in newspaper print with the permission of the newspaper. This high PR newspaper eventually decided to put the content online and wack!... the site was hit by Panda.

As for link exchange are we talking about a links/directory page? If so I would avoid. However I don't think people link out enough via the content articles unless its like to Wikipedia or some high authority... We should be linking to quality content not necessarily high authority that simply get bigger and bigger.

Also webmasters are all too scared to link to less authority sites as it leaves a mess when the link becomes dead.

[edited by: Johan007 at 4:33 pm (utc) on Apr 30, 2015]

4:32 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@netmeg @Robert Charlton @aakk9999 @brotherhood of lan @goodroi @Everyone

It is my wish that there was a place as equally popular as this board (Google SEO News and Discussion) once was where the conversation could evolve into something of an alternative discussion on the subject of acquiring traffic via the natural mechanisms of the Internet. I'm thinking about what @netmeg said about developing a "sustainable strategy." It's a business discussion, a marketing discussion and an Internet best-practices discussion (among other things) which seems to be an impossible discussion to have in the context of "How do I get traffic from Google." Having said that, it's a discussion that naturally flows out from the topic of this board (and spills over into it). I don't think this site needs new boards per se. Perhaps it's just a matter of emphasis, organization or whatever. Food for thought. ;)
4:47 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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netmeg wrote:
I mostly try to link only to people with more authority than I have.

That used to be my approach too. But now I'm also willing to link to new sites and small unknown sites too, if I judge them to useful, high-quality sites. If you only link to sites that already have authority, then you just re-inforce their already-high rankings, and make it harder for new sites to get recognition. I'm not saying that you don't need standards, but only that you should try to be fair and open-minded about who you link to.
5:52 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I try to be. If a newer / smaller site appears to have value, I'll link to it. They're rare as hen's teeth in my space though, and the brutal truth is I care more about my users (and my sites) than I do about someone else's site.
5:54 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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more authority

What does "authority" mean? (Serious question.) It could mean "sites Google likes better than they like me" and that's one meaning. Or it could mean "people who know more about this specific subject than I do" and that's a different meaning. If Site A is the world's leading authority on widgets-in-general, and Site B is the world's leading authority on green left-handed Belgian widgets, who's got more "authority"? In the state of nature*, wouldn't they both link to each other without even thinking about it?


* Defined by the philosopher Hobbes or someone like him as "the world before Google was invented".
6:34 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It could mean "sites Google likes better than they like me" and that's one meaning. Or it could mean "people who know more about this specific subject than I do" and that's a different meaning. If Site A is the world's leading authority on widgets-in-general, and Site B is the world's leading authority on green left-handed Belgian widgets, who's got more "authority"? In the state of nature*, wouldn't they both link to each other without even thinking about it?


Yes. To all of it. I mean, I don't have a formula better than "I know it when I see it"; nor do I have a ton of time to spend overthinking it. I mostly just try to avoid linking to sites I think are crap. Since I'm doing the linking, it's my definition of crap and only mine that matters. So far, it's worked out pretty well.
7:02 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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With regard to the question of identifying an authority, that's a problem that Google itself has been wrestling with for a long time. Remember the Google Knol? Or the Author Tag fiasco?

Not that Google has given up, but they've been rather quiet about the specifics of their current approach. Of course we have new threads about it here fairly often, but it's mostly specualtion.
7:25 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Since I'm doing the linking, it's my definition of crap and only mine that matters.


Touche!
8:07 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Link exchanges and links as citations are two different things. Someone who's skittish or who's convinced that a Google penalty is just around the corner might not want to participate in a link exchange, but being afraid to link out for legitimate reasons doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Links aren't just a basic component of the Web; they're also needed by search crawlers (to discover new pages, if nothing else). Why would Google want to discourage "natural" linking? Without links, Google and other search engines wouldn't be in business.

As for when I link to other sites organically (as opposed to via an affiliate link), it's usually when they have more or different content about the topic than I do, or when they're the original source. That's good for me, good for the link recipient, and good for the reader.
8:17 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So I linked out to some authority sites in my niche. Guess what site moved upwards about 40 places...... Then I cloaked the links in the script I posted. Site moved back down.

Maybe google rewards natural linking ? I did a couple of link exchanges as well but the site moved in my opinion because I linked to authority sites in the niche. Which is what Netmeg does. Going to try putting the links back without the cloaking and see what happens.
8:41 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Just because that's the way I do it doesn't mean you'll get the exact same result. Linking is *just one thing*.
9:03 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Ok there still a few links to cloak ie link partners that cloak there links to you so I modified the script and made it google friendly, Google cache and Googlebot will see the redirect


<?php

$url = "http://www.yoursite.com";
$domain = str_ireplace('www.', '', parse_url($url, PHP_URL_HOST));
$refDomain = str_ireplace('www.', '', parse_url($_SERVER["HTTP_REFERER"], PHP_URL_HOST));

if(strcmp($domain, $refDomain) == 0)
{
header("Location:".$_GET['url']);
} else {

if (strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'],'googleusercontent')) {
header("Location:".$_GET['url']);
} else if (strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'],'Googlebot'))
{
header("Location:".$_GET['url']);
} else {
header("Location: http://www.yoursite.com");
}
}
?>


So I link directly to authority site's and cloak the dodgy links.... I'll try this
9:26 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Actually scrapped all that code and just used a url shortener like twitter does
5:26 am on May 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Funny thing is, I did get the privilege of being slapped into oblivion in the SERPs along with everyone else because of all this nonsense


Some would say you were doing blackhat while proudly convinced you used only whitehat tactics. I don't worry much about hats, but I do like to know the environment I work in. The only way to learn that environment is experimentation, which requires sites that can be experimented with.

Unless, of course, you have the magic formula for producing quality sites that immediately rise to the first place of the serps for all keywords you want.
9:53 am on May 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My hunch is that a formalised exchange would legitimately be seen as a little bit dodgy by Google. I mean if you run a site about photography and you link exchange with a washing machine site then you know there's a reasonably legit reason to see that exchange as kind of a bit editorially debatable.

But, I now do just like another poster suggested, link out to other sites whether they're competitors or not. Because my users might find that useful. I know that this helps them in Google's eyes but so be it. I don't nofollow either. Since adopting this approach I've been doing a lot better. And you know, I think it's up to us - the web isn't just about Google and Google implications. It's about people!
12:06 pm on May 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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site about photography and you link exchange with a washing machine site


What if the washing machine guy was your brother-in-law? And you wanted people to know about him if they ever needed repairs for their washer?

If there is justice in the universe (a big "if" some days!), Google wouldn't be disturbed by the occasional link trade that seemed totally off topic.

I've seen many photographers trade links with places like wedding venues, caterers, florists, limousine services, jewelry shops and so on. They are complementary services wanting to reach the same eyeballs and willing to recommend each other. I'd certainly want Google to make room for that in its view of the world.
12:54 pm on May 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I agree with Buckworks. The worst that happens for irrelevance is it passes depreciated PageRank. I think Bing and Google have been a thousand steps ahead of that for years.

My understanding is that a page isn't necessarily the most granular unit of the web, that a page can be divided into pieces where different parts of a page are relevant for different things. A normal article could hyperlink out to several different things ranging from products to videos to someone else's article on a related but different topic. So rather than depreciate that link the search engines can obtain a finer grain of accuracy by dividing up the page into sections. That's kind of the flip side of assigning a lower score to content and links in the footer.
2:14 pm on May 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Some would say you were doing blackhat while proudly convinced you used only whitehat tactics.


Fair enough. Bottom line is that I've primarily focused on building sites, rather than manipulating their rank in Google, focusing on things like writing good HTML, linking in ways that make sense to my viewers, producing original and useful content/services or whatever. Yes, I cared about gaining exposure and I experimented just like everyone else. I just never bothered with getting a degree in SEO tactics. Google promoted the concept of page rank aggressively for a time and now they've backed off. I understand the value of a good link to my site. I've also always instinctively known what the goal of counting an weighing links is. It's about quantifying legitimate connections between resources. On the other hand, it was simple to see that generating spam all over the Internet to manipulate the SERPS was not a legitimate use of the Internet (even if it was a clever business strategy that paid big dividends for many) and I chose to stick with the links my sites earned naturally. After all is said and done, I think it's was the only sensible approach there ever was. Granted, I didn't get rich in the process. After all, I'm a web developer first and foremost, not a Google manipulation guru. Black hat, white hat or whatever. I think we've arriving at a point in history where we may have to know a great many things called "what not to do" just to get a fair shake in the SERPS, when and if there's ever a fair shake to be found.
7:10 am on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I don't believe we are too different philosophically. My experiment revolved around the benefit of links from directories from the time when directories were falling into less than favored status with SEs. Many directories at the time were "pay or link to us". Rather than pay, I linked, then cloaked those links. When I got my data, I shut the links down. Shades of grey.

You are certainly correct in the "what not to do" environment today. Earlier today I made live some pages that have very little on page keyword information, but should have strong user interaction and time on page. The established site should provide thematic information, the pages positive user behaviour.
3:16 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Rob_Banks I like what you said in the last paragraph. I think that approach is the wave of the future (though I also think it's been an essential fundamental for a very long time).

I once ran a modestly successful local business directory that IMHO offered some very unique services. Individual pages on that site dominated the SERPs for years. I never worried about linking out, never charged for the service, never required a back-link, never cloaked anything or made any effort to promote it in blogs or via link exchange. People loved what I offered and, over time, the site acquired links from the media, local organizations, government websites, bloggers and more. Once someone discovered the community nature of the site and the services it offered, it was hard to keep them from spreading the news, naturally. Long story short, some developer friends of mine thought it might be time to take the concept national. Turned out to be very bad timing. We enjoyed some very encouraging success early on and then the Google zookeeper stepped in and literally wiped out years of work overnight. I gave it another year and things came back a bit but then, like the flick of a light switch, it was snuffed out again. Suffice to say, that site is gone forever.

What did I learn? Probably nothing. I'm back building a smaller niche directory (something more manageable frankly) applying many of the same concepts developed in that original business directory. I know I've got an uphill battle with Google but I know that this type of site still offers things that they don't and I'll keep pushing those boundaries as long as I'm at this.

This site is picking up high quality links naturally and every time another appears, I see my search profile improve. Add to that a more diversified marketing/traffic acquisition strategy that involves multiple channels and the signs are quite encouraging. I'm happy with the slow steady approach but I can understand why it doesn't fit with the "get-rich-quick" mentality (or at least "pay-the-bills" mentality) that we as business people find so difficult to ignore.
3:25 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Change of trend?

I've had a few requests for good, old-fashioned, relevant exchange of links recently while the panicky 'remove my link from 2006' requests have stopped. Interesting.
7:26 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I was wondering if it was time to revisit link exchange as means of gaining traffic to your site.


As with any PAID link Google doesn't have a problem with them so long as you designated them that way and you do agree with Google on that point as you stated these are for TRAFFIC (visitors from the other websites) and not to rank better in Google.

Add rel="nofollow" and everyone is happy unless your desire wasn't to gain traffic but to first rank better and then only to gain Google traffic. Because you already understand visitors never click on reciprocal links.
11:35 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Because you already understand visitors never click on reciprocal links.


Why not?
12:02 am on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Unless your desire wasn't to gain traffic but to first rank better and then only to gain Google traffic. Because you already understand visitors never click on reciprocal links.


If the site is in the same niche and someone recommends you by putting you on there links page then you can get a small amount of referral traffic and that traffic will be good because

1. You were recommended
2. Its from a site in the same niche

Whats wrong with that, its how the internet used to work. I think its time to get back to it.
6:49 am on May 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@fathom,

Getting wrapped up in your own approach to seo isn't necessarily the "be all, end all" thing everyone should do. I mostly agree with your concept of generic inbound links and using internal linking for thematic relevance but everyone needs to explore their own options.

As with any PAID link Google doesn't have a problem with them so long as you designated them that way and you do agree with Google on that point as you stated these are for TRAFFIC (visitors from the other websites) and not to rank better in Google.


Heard that kind of crap too many times. If you work for Google, then you can state what they have a problem with, or don't have a problem with. Other than that, feel free to state that you think Google might do this or might do that. Apologies, but I get tired of the B.S.
10:59 am on May 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Because you already understand visitors never click on reciprocal links.


No.
11:15 am on May 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Because you already understand visitors never click on reciprocal links.

Depends how it is done. If a plan is to have a page called "Links" or "Resources" full of exchanged links then it is true that it is likely that there would not be many clicks, if any at all.

But if the links exchanged are done with a visitor in mind, are part of smaller set of recommendations that is integrated into website content in a right way, then links will be clicked on. Let's also not forget that the visitor does not know whether the link was exchanged or is it one way. In fact, they do not care.
12:22 pm on May 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Not all of us are selling 50 cent ads, so visitor volume expectations are different. 1 click can make my whole year. If that click comes from a referral site then it is more likely to be a valuable click. From my perspective, the reciprical link penalty killed off a valuable source of revenue and is definitely the googs way of controlling my traffic.

i miss the reciprical links, and i refuse to remove myself from directories. And yes, directories do provide traffic, very little, but for my vertical, a liile can be more than enough.
12:35 pm on May 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I look at it this way... linking that is...
You can pick one of the three below, but only one as the other two won't fit, and might earn a penalty. Your choice, of course!

You do it because it is useful for the user.
You do it because it generates traffic.
You do it because it generates income.
This 71 message thread spans 3 pages: 71
 

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