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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 Ė 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]

10:18 pm on Apr 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Just reading the Guidelines and its interesting to compare Bing and Google advice, on Reciprocal links it seems to differ greatly with Google ambiguous advice talking about "excessive" without defining it,

BINGS ADVICE:
RECIPROCAL LINKING
In cases like this, you agree with another website to exchange links. They point one at your site, and you point one at their site. Keeping in mind that humans normally donít follow this pattern, Bing can easily see there is limited value to such link exchanges. Donít skip this as a valid link building tactic, however. New websites need links, and exchanging a link is a solid way to not only gain a trusted inbound link, but potentially to gain direct traffic form the other website. That traffic could easily bring with it more links as those new visitors spread the word about your own website.

source [bing.com...]


GOOGLE ADVICE:
The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results:
Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking


source [support.google.com...]
10:40 pm on Apr 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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


That's probably wishful thinking, but in any case, is there any evidence that Google penalizes legitimate reciprocal links, as opposed to SEO linking schemes?

IMHO, it's more likely that Google, like Bing, "can easily see there is limited value to such link exchanges."
11:03 pm on Apr 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I guess the wording here is key, "EXCESSIVE" I can remember some sites had a bigger link directory than dmoz :) . I think in the right niche I think this can still add value and give some click through but only if the sites are relevant.
Google seem to see limited value in any links since 90% are no follow so it might as well add these too. I'm fed up with all this link paranoia people have I am going to link out to some relevant resources and also do some exchanges.
6:54 am on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The most important question to ask about a link exchange: would this make good sense to human users?

Focus on quality and relevance and you'll probably be okay.
12:56 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Reciprocal linking was at one time considered white hat. True fact. Reciprocal linking was asserted to be Google approved. Many became upset when I started a discussion popping that illusion by providing evidence that reciprocal linking was not white hat and neither was it recommended by Google.

It's common knowledge that reciprocal linking patterns occur naturally. As a consequence, there's no blanket penalization for that. And as Bing states and Google implies, some light interlinking is not a big deal. The deal becomes big when you start doing what the white hats used to do, by scaling it up and sending out tens of thousands of emails because the implication is the intent changes from telling people about your site and getting recommended by peers to trying to influence the search engines.

[edited by: martinibuster at 1:20 pm (utc) on Apr 28, 2015]

1:20 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I just link out where I think it's helpful. Sometimes they notice and link back, more often they don't.
4:47 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I agree that "excessive" is an important concept in this discussion. I prefer to gather links as netmeg suggests. I link out in a genuine attempt to be useful to my viewers first and foremost. Next, I like to think I'm doing something of value for those I link to. I get a small but steady growth in link-backs over time (mostly from webmasters that are grateful for the recognition). It's not a fast-track approach but I find it builds a strong link foundation "naturally."

And I think it's important to keep in mind that the primary purpose of a link isn't to build credibility with a search engine. It's purpose is to guide viewers from one piece of content to another (supposedly) related piece of content. It you let the search engines paralyze you into not doing what is natural in this environment, you might want to re-adjust your thinking...

Search Engine Traffic -- Get lot's of it and pray you don't loose it (often considered the easy approach and more profitable approach--well, at least by those that still have it in some substantial volume). The keeping it part is obviously driving this discussion on some level.

I'll also suggest that the quality of traffic flowing in from natural links tends to be some of the best there is (at least where user engagement is concerned). The bounce rate is a lot lower for me than with search traffic.
Link Traffic -- Harder to develop but a more stable, long-term source of traffic IMHO. Maybe not as lucrative for most, but perhaps more stable and, at a bare minimum, a good foundation to build on.

[edited by: webcentric at 4:52 pm (utc) on Apr 28, 2015]

4:50 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It also helps if you're a little picky about who YOU link to, I think. I mostly try to link only to people with more authority than I have.
5:20 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It also helps if you're a little picky about who YOU link to, I think. I mostly try to link only to people with more authority than I have.


Exactly. In fact, I don't even have a problem linking to so-called competitors if they're in a position of authority. It sounds stupid but without going into niche details, here's the point. If you're serving a national or global niche, linking to state or local resources (such as professional organizations) makes perfect sense for the audience's needs. Same applies going up the chain (a local site linking to a national org for example).

My thoughts on this are simple. Why would anyone take my site seriously if I act like God's gift to the subject while refusing to help people find additional resources (just because I might lose a visitor). I like to think of my sites as places where people come and go. If they find it a good place to find what they're interested in, they'll be back.

Getting back on point...contemplating linking strategies these days (in the context of "will Google slap me?") is yesterday's paranoia. I'd suggest concentrating on creating a better Internet experience for the audience and simply letting the Net do what it does so well "naturally".
11:09 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So I had a think about this - Google penalises for outbound links sometimes, but I want to show them to visitors and benefit from similar sites linking to the target website through traffic - so I thought "Cloak Them" , here a script I slightly modified. I think google will see only a link to your home page:
Outbound link would be something like......

http://www.yoursite.com/link.php?url=http://www.google.com


Contents of link.php

<?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 {
header("Location: http://www.yoursite.com");
}
?>
11:10 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So a safe way to exchange links..... what you guys think?
11:23 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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contemplating linking strategies these days (in the context of "will Google slap me?") is yesterday's paranoia

What a topical subject. I'm currently feeling stoked because an utterly unimpeachable authority chose to link to my version of a particular set of content. (Mine happens to be the best, but I'm not certain they actually know this.) Scurrying to investigate the unexpected source of traffic to a rarely visited subdirectory, I found that they themselves are doing something admirable which I wanted to tell people about... and then I fell into the Yesterday's Paranoia of Oh, wait, I can't do that because the search engine will suspect hanky-panky.

Is this the point where you're allowed to say "Well, ### it, I still think it will be useful to humans"?

:: wandering off to add link ::
11:33 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If there was a plus one on this forum I'd be voting now Lucy. It all started with "nofollow" Google went from indexing and organising the web to dictating to it. W3C became a nonentity as google began to dictate mark up links and strategy and webmasters hung by there every word. Howether who here thinks Google intentions are as honourable as W3C and not fueled by greed?
11:54 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Is this the point where you're allowed to say "Well, ### it, I still think it will be useful to humans"?


If you're talking about "allowed" by Google, my answer is - I don't know and I'm not sure I care. On the other hand, I'm of the opinion that the web is not Google's to shape (at least not while I have some of that power in my own two hands). Perhaps it's time to show Google how the web should work and let them follow our good lead for a change.

-Added-
Just to keep this on point. A link exchange can be both a commercial arrangement and a plain and simple, sensible, natural association between bits of information. Either way, it's a form of connectivity. Google should follow the links and stop fostering a popularity contest based on them. Just because G wield's some power based on this concept, it doesn't mean that the fundamental mechanisms of the Internet should die a slow death as a result. Do we really want to live in Google's world or one of our own making?
12:39 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So a safe way to exchange links..... what you guys think?


Probably not.

Is this the point where you're allowed to say "Well, ### it, I still think it will be useful to humans"?


I always think that. You're probably better off bragging about your unimpeachable link than pretending it doesn't exist.
1:38 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I link to stuff that has value. "They: link to me for the same reason. I don't ask them, they don't ask me. That's the way the web works most of the time.

Goggle, years back, made a big deal out of links and created the monster they are trying to kill off now. (Page Rank started as "link count8ing"). Sadly, all to easy to game. Also sadly, because it is easy will not be killed or defeated. That's the current web.

But I don't build my site for G or B or Y or the other Y... I build it for me, myself, I, and the users who like the same stuff/things. Some of those sites are info, some are for fun, some are for business... but all of them are out there and some will link to me... and sometimes I might link to them.

As for going on a reciprocal link exchange campaign... not sure how well it work these days. As noted above, B and G both know when that happens. There will be a point of diminishing returns. Is it 10 links/day, 100, 1000? who knows.
1:51 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Probably not.


Ermm so why not ? many sites cloak links and get away with it. Like Twitter for instance, its the same technique why should I not be allowed to do it ?
2:19 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It all started with "nofollow" Google went from indexing and organising the web to dictating to it.


Bing and Yahoo! also support the "nofollow" attribute (and have done so for years).
2:49 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy I have to ask are you an apologist for Google? I seen your posts here and they always have a slant. The fact Yahoo supported this doesn't interest me and as Bing was not yet created its doubtful they supported it isn't it? As Bing is a current search engine and Yahoo isn't I would value there opinion more. Howether I would value W3C opinion above everything as I believe they genuinely seek to construct a fair internet.

[edited by: brotherhood_of_LAN at 3:17 am (utc) on Apr 29, 2015]
[edit reason] language [/edit]

3:18 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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

Yes, it is a restriction of trade. But the question is it coincidental or intentional. To determine this, regulators would have to step in an view the fine details to determine intent. That's assuming regulators, who are not the brightest and most productive lot, could even comprehend a complex scheme to restrict trade in the digital world. Or whether Google's lobbyists/special treatment would kill any investigation before it even started.

Since it has already been revealed that Google attempted to restrict trade, why not links too? If there are less links for people to click on, then the people are more likely to use Google.

I would not cloak links, and I would be careful about getting links. It seems Google's actions would indicate they don't want people linking to each other. That siphons money away from them and any linking you get/give could result in a "penalty."
3:27 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Seoskunk, how is it being an "apologist for Google" to point out that all three major U.S. search engines support "nofollow"? I guess you must think I'm an apologist for Bing and Yahoo, too.

Fact is, the search engines (along with quite a few content platforms) support "nofollow" because of all the people who couldn't care less about a natural or organic Web--or the W3C, for that matter. If Google didn't exist, there would still be a need for something like rel="nofollow," because Google didn't invent the concept of link popularity and isn't alone in giving attention to links.
3:36 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Advertisement!:

Tinfoil Hats! Tinfoil Hats! Only Hugs and Kisses accepted!


The above is no more silly than believing G will squash your site for taking money away from them by linking to others. I CAN see G de-rank for attempting to game the system as that does affect the way the black box algo works.
5:10 am on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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When the emphasis of discussions like this turns staunchly away from pleasing Google (or avoiding its wrath) to building a better Internet, we'll be getting somewhere. I've been watching this forum with great interest this year (well, for many years) and I do believe that such sentiment is rising. I contend that it's up to us to develop the Internet into a more useful, entertaining, and viable resource than it is today. A foolhardy notion perhaps but it beats living in fear. We're all free to link as we choose. Is that really such a dark, dangerous path or have we simply been lulled into thinking there is no other path? Or are we just gonna stay fixated on the easy path until it leads the whole flock over a cliff? I sense more and more people simply getting off the merry-go-round and giving this circus a whole lot less credence than they once did. I can feel a liberated feeling in their words and it's encouraging.
1:20 pm on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Ermm so why not ? many sites cloak links and get away with it. Like Twitter for instance, its the same technique why should I not be allowed to do it ?


You're allowed to do whatever you want with your own site. But you won't get the same results as Twitter because you're not Twitter. You won't have all the other metrics.

But go ahead and cloak them. I certainly don't care. I think it'll come back and bite you eventually. When you put out a shady signal, you're gonna look shady. Me, I prefer to link out like I have nothing to worry about. Because I don't worry about it.
2:07 pm on Apr 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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What @netmeg said.

I recently got a link from a site that has nothing to do with mine. What happened was, I helped one of the content writers out, with my opinion and he mentioned me and the website, without even asking him to - a good juicy dofollow link from a very trusted website. So I decided to marry the two verticals, get a content piece that is unique in its own way and link back. If Google can't "see" this as a digital "hat`s off to you sir" type of deal, they should close doors.

If you doubt the honesty of your intention, maybe you should not link back. That is my only and very simple rule.
5:11 am on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If you doubt the honesty of your intention, maybe you should not link back.

Maybe it's not just the honesty of one's current intention... it's past history, future actions, and the honesty of past intentions in gaining past, present, and future links. Google is big on intent, it's got a good memory, and it has gotten pretty good at analyzing patterns statistically.

Note that in any link exchange situation, as in any link buying or selling situation, there are two sides to the pattern (at least). That also makes Google more likely to be right.

How'd Dirty Harry put it?... "Go ahead, make my day."

Dirty Harry's feelings aside... I agree with netmeg here. In support of her comment, I would note that way back, when link exchangers felt three-way linking might be safer than direct link exchanges, there were those who speculated that the penalty for three-way linking would be worse if they could detect it. I'd speculate that the penalty for cloaked link exchanges, assuming Google could detect them, would be worse as well.
6:22 am on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@seoskunk

I personally wouldn't advocate link exchange as a method to build ranking in today's environment. I've used a different variation on cloaking and it did not provide the wonderful results you might want if people were linking to you but SE's could not see your reciprocal outbounds. Think about it, SE sees a variety of inbounds, but there aren't any outbound links? Good if you have supporting analytics (user behavior), otherwise a flag.

You are asking the right questions, but you probably aren't going to get direct answers.
2:36 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Here's a direct answer. Keep looking for ways to game the system and the system will continually seek ways to slap you down!
2:49 pm on Apr 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Just for the record, I have never engaged in an unnatural link-exchange scheme but somehow was able to compete for years with all the jokers (if the shoe fits) who think gaming the system is the way to go. While they've been cleaning up their link profiles, I've just been getting up every morning and doing what I've been doing for close to two decades...building quality websites. 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. Good news is, I don't have to go back and undo years of self-serving chaos I created all over the Internet.
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