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Linking With Integrity - Getting One Way Links The Right Way

Oct 23, 2007
It's just as important to know what not to do when executing a website linking strategy as it is to know what to do. With inexpensive linking software and services so readily available, there's a strong temptation to take shortcuts when it comes to getting quality links.

Avoiding these traps will help your search engine placements rise naturally and stay that way for a long time. In this article, I describe two ways that you can help yourself avoid being labeled a link spammer.

Link Farms

What is a link farm? A link farm is any website designed and set up for the sole purpose of getting search engine spiders to crawl and index web pages. These websites provide absolutely no end user utility or benefit.

So how do you recognize a link farm? First, you need to ask yourself, is this site heavy laden with links? Most link farms will have a "farm" of links with little to no content. As for an explanation of the site's existence, it's usually missing too.

The next question you need to ask is, what does the URL of the site itself look like? Most of the time, link farms will have long, hyphenated URLs (i.e. our-great-linking-directory dot com). This is a generalization so not all link farms will have these types of URLs. Many of these link farms are generated using software. The software will go out and find a domain name that contains specific keywords even if it settles on something with several hyphens and numbers. You may still consider a long, hyphenated site for linking purposes but make certain you conduct more research before you submit a link.

Next, look at the domain name extension and note if it's .info or .biz. In order to sell these extensions, many domain name registrars offer a one-time, deep discount. I know of several registrars that sell .info domains for 89 cents per year. These cheap domain names allow spammers to generate thousands of sites at a huge discount.

The next criteria I use to help identify a link farm is what I call the "cheese factor". Although some link farms will look professionally designed, most are either 1) generated with software or 2) are designed with the same cookie-cutter, non-altered templates that fill search engine results. This is especially true with blogs. Spammers and Internet newbies will not take the time to brand their websites or blogs. These are commonly referred to as "pump and dump" websites.

Another question you should ask is, does it look human? That is, does it look like someone hangs around and takes care of things? You should also be able to contact the webmaster either via web form or e-mail. If there's no contact information available anywhere on the website, be very afraid.

If it's a directory site, check out the links in a few of the main directory headings. Are the URLs hyphenated just like the main URL? If you visit one of these sites, does it look the same as the site you just came from? Are there more URLs crammed onto one page than anyone could possibly visit in a lifetime?

Last but not least, if you have your suspicions that a site might be a link farm, for any reason, stay away. It's better to miss a great linking opportunity than to post your link and get downgraded in your search engine placements.

Non-relevant Links

When you're placing your links, you want to make sure that the site you're linking to has something to do with your own site and, vice versa.

A non-relevant link is defined as a hypertext link placed on a website, or in a directory, that has little to no relevance to the linking site or directory. These links are placed for the sole purpose of 1) increasing page rank or 2) getting a website crawled and indexed or a combination of the two.

The most obvious way to combat not-relevant links, over which you have complete control, is the placement of links on your own site. Avoid placing links on your own site to another that has no relevance to your content; even if it's a legitimate. Why? The link doesn't do anything for you or the person whose link you placed. On the other hand, don't ask someone to place a link on their site which doesn't relate to yours.

Google, Yahoo, and MSN all look closely at whom you're linking to and who's linking to you. In fact, Google's PageRank definition specifically states that link relevance (quality) is looked at more than just the link itself.

So what's the solution? As in researching a potential link farm, you need to check out the sites that are you're linking to. If you're submitting your site to directories or article directories, make sure that you're submitting your content and links to the most relevant topics and sections.

Don't worry about getting an exact match in terms of relevance between your site and the linking site; just make sure that each site complements the other.

Know the Linking Pitfalls

In summary, you can be accused of being a link spammer even if you think you haven't done anything wrong. To keep your linking strategy clean, I've outlined two specific techniques that will keep your site safe with the search engines.

First, watch out for unscrupulous link directories and sites (i.e. link farms). Use the techniques and ask yourself the questions I've outlined to recognize and avoid these harmful sites.

Second, make sure you're posting to relevant sites/directories/articles/blogs or wherever you choose to submit your content and links.

Most importantly, if you think you might get accused of being a spammer, by attempting to use a linking technique you just read about or software you just bought, trust your gut and don't do it. Linking software creators claim that you can get thousands of back links with the press of a button or for only "$49". The only way to get good quality back links is to do the research yourself and hand-submit every single link.

If you avoid these two traps, you'll be well on your way to getting the links you need to get your website placed higher in search results and, as a result, generate more sales.
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