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Trading links without a "link directory" page?

A workaround to link exchanges?



8:53 pm on Mar 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hey everybody!

I am looking for some good insight on how to approach this. Although not as popular in Google anymore, I am looking at exchanging links with various websites in my field of work. I will use discretion and make sure the link is WORTH it and is relevant.

But WHERE can I put the outbound link BACK to their site? How frowned upon are "Link Pages"? Let say I have 20 outbound links. 20 per page is alright, I suppose, right? But what if I get 40? Can I make two pages of 20 links and call them "links pages?"


Should I distribute the links around accordingly throughout the pages that have good PR? I have about 4 pages with a good PR rank. The rest are about 2s and 1s.

And furthermore.....if I do START a link page....how do I get it to have good PR? I have been many link pages out there with good PR and I just wonder how they do it!

Sorry...much of this is ramlbing, but I hope it prompts good discussion. Thank you for the insight!


10:43 pm on Mar 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

If your links are quality and related, there's no real concern how you do it, though some argue that links from 'links pages' do get devalued.

The real concern is that while you clearly understand the importance of qaulity links, some of your reciprocal link partners may not - so if they are careless, sloppy or idiotic, the whole thing could go bad very easily. You'll need to check the links regularly to be sure they stay Quality. A bad neighborhood can creep up on you.


1:07 am on Mar 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The main problem with link pages is that everyone links out of them, but no one links to them.

Many "links" pages are not even included in google's indexed because of lack of internal link support of the main site.


5:08 am on Mar 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I would make 4 or 5 content pages with 4 or 5 links in each of and have the outbound links within the text. It shouldn't be too difficult to place some links within the content to your partner sites since they're related.

For example, you could have one page on 'how to make blue widgets' and write a short blurb about the topic, but linking out to 5 sites within the text. Then make another page and do the same thing, wash rinse repeat. One thing I would make sure is that you also link out to some of the higher authority pages in your niche that are not going to be part of this recip deal. That will make it look more natural.

This will turn your 'links' pages into content pages that could actually be a benefit to users, and make the rep links look much more natural.

Jim Boykin wrote a post about this on his blog that you should check out for more details.

- Dave


12:59 am on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just to add a second vote to what daveshap said. Sound advice, and one I shall be taking. It's a question I've wondered about myself, never thought to ask for an answer. Good post :-)

[Added - BTW, do you have a link to Jim's post!]

[edited by: AnonyMouse at 1:01 am (utc) on Mar. 5, 2008]


2:58 am on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Great advice from everyone! And daveshap....good thinking. My only question is..... is it worth it?

Let me pose this for a second. Lets say I go through the trouble of making these link pages with good content. But then the person I am trading links with surely won't extend the same courtesy, correct? I am just another link to them.

SO, does me making my outbound links correctly as you suggested "outweigh" the effects of the regular old link from THEIR site? Who is actually winning here? It seems by me going through the extra trouble....they would be....and I am still getting the same boring ole link back from them.

I hope I am making sense. haha.

Again, much appreciated!


5:31 am on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi Tokey666,

I think if you are going to do a recips page, it is worth it regardless of the type of links you get back because it's fresh content, could genuinely help users, and will increase the likelihood that the links will not be discounted.

I generally wouldn't spend time doing recips and would explore other ways to work with sites in your niche for links, but your question was what's the best way to do it, and this is the way that I know of that is most likely to get you the most bang for your buck out of a links page, but you have to put in some extra work.

I think Google is far more advanced than discounting links simply cause they're recips. I think if the links on both sites are on links pages that ooze all the signals of being spammy (the word 'links' in the title, linking out to porn, pills, casino, and generally unrelated sites, many links with no text surrounding them, etc.) then they will be discounted. But if I link to a site within a content page of my site (what I'm advocating you build) and they happen to link back to my site at a later time, there is no reason to believe that those links will be discounted simply because they're recips.

Another thing I'd recommend if you're going to go this route is waiting perhaps as long as a few months between the time you link out and when you get the link back. Most recips are a dead give away because they appear around the same time linking to each other, and it's reasonable to believe search engines have loads of temporal info regarding links and can spot this easily. If you put a link out to a partners site and have them wait a few months before they link to you, it will look less likely as a traditional spammy recip. I have not proven or tested this so I could be off here, but it's just another factor that you can utilize to not make it look like a traditional recip. Also make sure to link out to other resourceful sites in your industry besides the ones that are giving you links back.

The advantage of what I'm suggesting lies in the fact that your pages no longer contain many of the obvious signs of a reciprocal links page, primarily because it becomes a link within the content of one of your pages, not a link from a links page. So in the eyes of a search engine, while still technically being a recip in the fact that there are two sites that link to each other, at least one is from a content page.

Like I said before, I don't believe this is the best way to utilize the relationships with the other sites in your niche, but if you're going to go this route, the info I've listed above will help you increase the possibility that the links will count, but like all things in SEO, it's not guaranteed to work.

This response is way longer than is probably necessary, but I wanted to explain my reasoning behind my suggestions, not just give my suggestions. I hope this helps.

- Dave


12:50 pm on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Awesome Dave. A well thought-out response and I do agree.

At any rate, let me dive in a litttlleee bit with everyone. Lets say I make these really nice links page. Good content, well placed links, etc etc. How is it possible to increase the page rank of THAT or THOSE pages enough to make the links "count" in the eyes of the reciprocal linker. Do I really waste time out there finding links to link to my "links" page?

I do feel at this moment I seem to be one of those "quantity" type of people, but its really not the case. I am just trying to get more thoughts just regarding this subject. Believe it or not, my niche is difficult to find links for. Most and I mean MOST websites out there dedicated to the vacation rental industry are advertising based with huge databases of paid advertisements anyway, so I am really at a loss when it comes to getting good quality inbound links.

Done for now. :)

Thanks yet again Dave and everyone who has and will contribute.

[edited by: martinibuster at 5:14 pm (utc) on Mar. 5, 2008]
[edit reason] Removed link. See TOS for info. [/edit]


1:09 pm on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

In my less experienced days I found out the hard way that having a serious number of outbound links on a page that received inbound links was Google suicide.

The site in question is run for a community arts organisation and there is a substantial body of links to local clubs, organisations, venues, local suppliers etc etc etc. These are a major element of the site.

The solution was to create a "resources" page which had a description of our geographical coverage and links to separate pages of links to venues, businesses, artists and national bodies. Deep linking to the resources page was encouraged.

I have never worried about PR dilution in the inbound links but get good positions in all key searches both for the resources page and actual link pages as well as driving a lot of traffic on the links.


2:12 pm on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I want to comment on this because I have taken a radically different approach with a site I'm developing. This may be OT t a degree, and for that I apologize.

My understanding of the internet and linking goees back to 1998, when I set up my first web site and back then, as now, linking, to me, was always about TRAFFIC.

Google perverted the system with their artificial PageRank algo, and has followed through with various penalties, guidelines, etc., such as the rel=nofollow attribute.

My point is that I could care less what my PR is, so long as the traffic is solid, and regardless where it comes from. The site I'm developing is a local site, made up primarily of a home page with headlines that link to various local business pages (not their sites directly) with special offers, discounts, coupons, etc.

Now, what I'm doing makes perfect business sense, in that I am providing a service - ads and traffic. I expect Google will go ape-carzy over the site because people are actually paying money for this.

Am I wrong? Should I not do this because Google will poop all over me and my customers or should I continue on providing a valuable local service and forget what the big G thinks?

Again, I could care less about PR. Most of my customers have not a clue what it is. They just want more business.


2:42 pm on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The "problem" with Daves' suggestion is that it needs to be done very cautiously or you can risk the site, and with moderation or subtlety being largely unfamiliar concepts within our industry....


2:59 pm on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Let's face it, most sites are going to have a "small number" of quality link partners in the true sense of the matter. Years ago I decided to do things differently. No longer do I look at my outbound links as just a link. When we place an outbound on one of our sites, we look at that as a partnership whether or not the recipient reciprocates.

Partnerships are much more valuable than trading links. They do require a little more work but the end result is a win/win situation for all involved, including the search engines. Stop treating your OBLs as a commodity. Start looking at them as integral parts of your website. Key partnerships get major play, usually a full page of advertisement.

You see, we like to keep our visitors on site for as long as possible. If we're going to link offsite, the user is most likely going to click that link and be taken to a partner page. We look at that partner page like a full page ad in an 8.5 x 11.0 magazine, and its in full color too! Do you know how much those cost? Depending on the industry and the number of subscribers, that one page could cost upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 per issue. And, the rule of thumb is that it needs to run for at least 5-6 issues for full effect. Give your partners a page like that and they are sure to be "grateful" for your ingenuity. Who knows, maybe they will do the same in return. ;)

One of the biggest challenges with focusing all of your link development within one area of your site are the footprints. Finding "hoards" of links is no problem for the SEs, they are all over the place. Those link directories stick out like a sore thumb, they always have. So that means you need to do something different. This is a great topic of discussion and one that I look foward to participating more in. Thanks for starting it tokey666!

Inline Links are the key to success.


5:12 pm on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

There are questionable directories with nothing but paid links and a fairly high PR.

There are various companies and individuals who market paid links even using adwords.

All that makes the whole linking situation very dubious and i have seen pages with real content and a few decent related links getting downgraded to PR 0 though they where internaly supported by a PR 4.


11:26 pm on Mar 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The problem with linking to other sites is your site can be penalized for linking to sites that aren't very careful who they link to and just because they look clean when you first check them out doesn't mean they won't add "bad neighborhood" links in the future. This could affect just that page or your whole site if there are too many of these kinds of links. This means you have to constantly check every page where you have outgoing links.

If you have several link pages your site could be tagged as a directory and thus you will need to put rel="nofollow" on every link if you want those pages to gain any PR or keyword rank. I've seen Google note in the webmaster tools when a site contained a directory which was causing problems). The directory had no PR and the whole site had recently dropped in keyword rank.

I just realized 2 of 5 sites I was linking to on one of my pages were selling or linking to bad neighborhood products. My page was PR 0 when it should have been PR 4 and there is no other reason for it. I removed the links but the PR hasn't come back yet.


10:22 am on Mar 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

In my experience link pages appear to work. I run a site and use reciprocal link exchanging. Over the months I have seen increases in search engine traffic (nothing else about the site has changed).

However, the general consensus these days seems to be that only obtaining one way links is truly worth your time. And the only legititmate way to do that is through link baiting.

[edited by: engine at 12:59 pm (utc) on Mar. 7, 2008]
[edit reason] No urls, thanks [/edit]


6:19 pm on Mar 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Trading links without a "link directory" page?
A workaround to link exchanges?

Why is a workaround needed?

The major search engines list their links in the traditional format:

Link title (URL)
description, linebreak etc.

Just because the search engines have asked webmasters to avoid excessive irrelevant reciprocal linking does not mean that traditional link directory style pages are bad by any means.

I've got a personal website in the aviation industry that's nine years old and it has a traditional link directory powered by editor based software. My link directory pages are all indexed by all of the search engines and I rank in the top five positions for my keywords. I obtain links very slowly and only with sites tightly related to my own site. Over a span of nine years I have about 725 sites linking to my own, many of them through traditional relevant link exchange.

Sure, inline links and Linklets in side columns work when it benefits the end user's experience. But I don't see traditional link pages going anywhere. When a links page or link directory is highly relevant to benefit the end user's experience, thats relevant useful content for your website and a perfect place to store your links.

Just because link directory pages have been abused by some does not mean they should be avoided all together. The search engines clearly realize that webmasters in many cases will not give a link without getting one back. The search engines clearly realize the most useful method to display and serve exit links is in a traditional title-description line break format. They still use this format today.

If the search engines display their links in the same manner, what's wrong with it besides the fact that the format has been abused by some in the past?


10:49 am on Mar 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Just a quick question to clarify things in my head. I dont know if this is a silly question or not. But, if I have a page and with say pr3 and link it to another page of mine with a different domain. Will this page get an automatic pr3 if it is the only linked page?


3:02 pm on Mar 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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


Page rank (even 'greenbar' page rank) is much more complex than that.

There's never a 'certainty' that a new page will get a particular page rank - though if you have fairly predictable navigation, a new page in an existing folder is likely to get the same rank as a neighboring page.

And if you have a plain vanilla html site, page rank is fairly likely to diminish as you go deeper into the site at a rate of roughly 'one point' per level. But less likely than last year, and direct links to deep pages will distort it, of course.

Remember it's page rank, not site rank - it's every page for itself (even if the 'page' in page rank is Larry, according to urban myth / rumour / real true fact*)

*delete according to taste and blood alcohol level.


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