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Link Exchange Requests

05/05/07


  
Permalink 05:27:38 pm, by Jet-Screamer Email , 642 words   English (US)
Categories: Website Hosting Tips

Link Exchange Requests

What are Link Exchange Requests?

You've seen the emailed requests; "We've added a link to your site on our links page! Please reciprocate by adding a link to our website on yours..." You may even visit the page referred to and see a link to your site there and feel obligated to link to theirs. Not so fast. First let's review the purpose of link exchanges and then we'll look at how to get the desired result out of link exchanges.

So why the heck is everyone emailing you for a link exchange, aka URL swap? One word, Google. Google accounts for 48.1% of all Online Searches and is the focus of all website owners as far as organic (as opposed to paid) search placement. A first page placement for target keywords/phrases can make a huge difference in the number of eyeballs arriving at one's site and the two main factors that affect this ranking are content & links to your site.

Content is pretty obvious. Whatever is typed into the search box should be the main topic of the web page shown in the search results. Google uses many automated means of weighing the varying content on a page for this purpose and this will be discussed in a future column.

Follow up:


The other factor, external links, is given a high value by Google because, by their logic, if a lot of people are linking to your site for a particular word or phrase then your site must be informative about that subject. Now, acting on this alone one would think having oodles of external links would be a great idea. Not quite. The "quality" of the page linking to yours is taken into account by Google so "link farms" (a service offered by less reputable Search Engine Optimization companies) can actually lower your ranking. Also, a lot of external links on websites which don't appear to share a similar topic or subject matter will dilute Google's valuation of your external links as opposed to having external links from websites of similar subject matter.

Which brings us to another issue, Link Exchange Scams. With link exchange scams the person you're "swapping" with makes it appear they have linked to your website but as far as Google is concerned, they have not. One manner in which this is done is to utilize JavaScript to make the link go to your site, but Google does not consider this a link. Another nearly invisible method is to tell Google, through what's called a robots.txt file, to not look at the web page that contains your link.

So to summarize, it's best for more sites to link to you than you are linking to other sites. It's best that sites linking to yours be within the same subject area as yours and vice versa. VERIFY that the sites which claim to link to yours are doing so and recheck every few months.

To use Google to look for sites that are linking to yours, do the following:

From Google's main page click the "Advanced Search Link" next to the search input box.
google avanced search

Scroll down this page until you see the following section:
google page specific search
Enter your domain name/url in the box to the right of the text "Find pages that link to the page" as exampled in red letters. The results are pages which google has indexed that link to the page you entered. This is by no means a complete list so if someone claims to have linked to your site this is NOT proof they have not. However, it could be a good sign of this. If you are unsure if the people you are exchanging links with are genuine, just contact us and we'll assist you in verifying.

7/14/2009, Edited to Add: Recently published article on CNET.com, Link exchanges: The poor man's SEO.


  
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