Link Exchanges/Link Farms – Good or Bad

– Posted in: SEO, Web Design

The other day, I received a very courteous email from a webmaster looking to increase the rankings of his web pages. I have spent the last few days contemplating his request.

First, what are Link Exchanges & Link Farms?

Link farming is the process of exchanging reciprocal links with web sites in order to increase search engine optimization. The sole purpose of any link farm is to get search engine rankings. They typically have web pages that consists of 50, 100 or even more unrelated links on it.

Link Exchanges (also known as a banner exchanges) are a confederation of web sites that operates similarly to a web ring. It is a  method of exchanging links on a large scale (usually automated) specifically for the purpose of improving search engine rankings, not user-experience.

It used to be common practice to exchange your links like this. Typically exchanges & farms involve either manually or automatically setting up pages or directories of links to other sites and partners that link back to your site. These types of spam-filled pages or directories often have no value to the visitor.

I had a client, several years ago, who had links from anyone who asked to be linked to their site. When I went through all the links I was surprised to find dead links, links that lead down bunny trails of pop up ads, & even pornographic pages. When we found this, we immediately took the page down. Why would anyone want to read a page of links?

Personally, I practice what I like to call, “Organic Exchanges.” An organic exchange is posting links on your web site that pertains to your web site. For instance, I surf the net often, looking at tutorials, or gaining advice on subjects just like this that I am writing about. I have blogs I love to read daily… So, what I do is put a link on my web site or my Favorite Web sites over on the sidebar so that you too can enjoy some of my favs. There are no strings attached. If I list you, you don’t have to list me.

You say I’m shooting my page ranks down? No, I don’t think so. You see, search engines like my fav, Google are changing every day. They are smart to our ways of trying to get high page rankings. So, I want them to see that all my external, as well as internal links go hand in hand with my business.

Keywords are very important to have for all web pages. Search engines put a high value on external links that link to pages that have keywords that are pertinent to the web site. So, if you do choose to put my web site URL on your web site, make sure you list me under web design, web hosting, or something along those lines. That way I get an honest page rank.

My point is this; exchange links organically, naturally. Make sure they are meaningful to your business. Don’t go for those automated exchanges or farms that don’t know you. They don’t know your business. All they will do is get you removed from Google. That is not a good thing.

The main reason for avoiding link exchanges, is because search engines like Google consider it a manipulative technique for gaining page ranks. Google has been known to remove sites for trying to artificially inflate their rankings. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines state that spam link exchange tactics are deceptive or manipulative behavior. You can read more here.

So, don’t write me & ask me to post a link to your web site. I won’t do it unless I actually use your site and find it useful. Don’t send me to your web page where you’ve listed my web site in amongst other links that you’ve farmed. It isn’t help either of us!

— More Later

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