Link baiting for seo ? What is a reciprocal link? Should I link or not?
by Trevor Weir
So, you are thinking about that email request. The one you got last week about giving someone a reciprocal link. You don’t know this person from Adam or Eve for that matter but there you are giving that email its 10 seconds of fame while puzzling about the ramifications of doing the little link deed or not.
Before I go any further, let me try to answer this one quickly and to the point. I will probably fail to answer quickly but I will get to the point.
- Get the Google ToolBar and turn on the PageRank option so that you can determine both what your own page rank is, as well as the page rank of the requesting site is.
- If your own page rank is a 3 and theirs is a either N/A or 0 – STOP don’t don’t bother responding to that email, just come back here take your time and read this article…
- If their page rank is considerably higher than yours – let’s say yours is N/A or even just PR1 or PR2 and theirs is PR3 or a whopping PR5 – stop reading my website, drop what you’re doing and give them the reciprocal link that they are asking for particularly if their site is in the same genre as yours or a related genre.
- The fewer the links on the page where they would like to give you a link back from is the more valuable that link is. MSN and Yahoo prefer to see links in the middle of text, so if they are the one’s asking you for a link, insist that your link on their site be inside an article or somewhere. Don’t accept links on pages full of other links. Google can see a link farm from a mile away.
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10-15% of your backlinks can be reciprocal without hurting your standings. More than that however and the search engines tend to frown on it, unless the majority of those links are coming from PR5 or higher sites like cnn.com, businessweek.com, telegraph.co.uk etc., but you get the idea.
If you are still hot and bothered about “absolutely having to get that link” but you know that you have been actively over-engaging in this reciprocal link activity ( because it’s like a bad drug habit to you, lol ) then encourage your fellow linker to use a third site in the process, so that you get what you want but you give away link from some other site that you have. You do have more than one, right? Did I just give you some blackhat seo? Nah, I wouldn’t do that would I?
Most of us search engine optimization buffoons know what this backlinking terminology means, so to simplify – it simply means “getting others to link to your site from their own” – hopefully because they thought you were worth linking to and not because its your aunt Harriot’s website.
How did this link exchange thing start ?
When this whole thing started, this linking was done by exchanging reciprocal links between 2 consenting sites, and initially search engines had no problem with this but Google and others soon began to devalue these reciprocal efforts due to not just
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the potential for spam but due to the fact that a “whole lot of consenting” was going on in this area. This created a sort of REAL link spam that was causing sites of dubious public value to pop quite high in the search listings. Black hat seo personnel were taking real advantage of this to the detriment of the general public.
Spam is known to many of us as that tasty meat from which the current swine flu propagates,lol, sorry couldn’t help myself, but in internet lingo it is also known as the process whereby a few tech savvy individuals attempt to gain unfair advantage by flooding areas of the internet with their own commercial resources in order to influence the public to purchase, buy or get branded in a certain way.
As an example, too many enterprising spammers send out unsolicited comments using software robot programs – to create thousands of backlinks automatically in forums, blogs and other places. This caused Google and others to create the dreaded nofollow tag. Others created fake websites and pages with links back to their own – not the phrase “their own” – commercial products – thus creating a need for Google and other search engines to objectively create quality ranking scores to determine the relationship between linking sites.
In the early days, the search engines were not specifically looking at some of these things such as which reciprocal links were owned by the same person or which 20 reciprocal links were with the same ISP, though they had these on their internal radar. In order to thwart the spammer type group, this data is now being considered rather carefully by the search engine algorithm personnel, as it is rather important for determining exactly who the spammers are.
Optimizing traffic through keyword selection …
Perhaps one of the most important pieces of the back-linking puzzle is in what keywords one uses on the site to attract more traffic – traditionally, this has been where most linking efforts have failed.
Why? Because unless you created the back links yourself, you can’t determine how someone else will link to your site. And how pray tell, would you do that? ( Yes, ok, it can be done, but it usually takes someone skilled or trained particularly in this task )
Secondly, since as a casual reader, you are not likely to be an expert on long tail keywords, if one gets the opportunity, ( Google the keywords “google keyword tool”) one is going to most logically try to pick the keywords having the most traffic. Would this be the correct thing to do? A very new online entity, even after being indexed by Google / Yahoo or most search engines, doesn’t stand a prayer for getting significant real traffic based on the most highly trafficked keywords – sorry but this wait for traffic could extend to many months or even years.
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So – have we been looking at a potentially time wasting effort here?
The potential problems don’t stop there. Oh no, we have just begun.
Did you install the google toolbar and activate the PageRank indicator? If so, then you can follow right along.
The page rank of new articles/html pages or text is typically “N/A”. After the search engine spiders have indexed it – typically Zero, where 0 means new and 9 and 10 are the absolute best. Some may say differently but while it’s possible that a new page with N/A or O as its rank can have a freshness quotient that can help it positively, in most search engines, this zero which is evidence of “no credibility” will assuredly not work in the page’s favor.
But there are exceptions to every rule and if the newly created page is sitting on a grandly popular Web 2.0 social network property like ebay or myspace, bebo or scribd to name a few then it won’t be penalized as much just because its current pagerank or credibility level appears to be a zero.
As the examples of exceptions above clearly show, it is thought that new pages on foundation sites such as those with a credibility level of 5 or above, inherently acquire some of the PageRank or PageTrust of the site that they are actually hosted on. Which is why your digg or scribd or squidoo article will assuredly show up higher in the search engine results than the exact same article put on your most wonderful website, lol.
All sounds rather complicated huh? So, what’s a girl to do?
Link-Baiting ( yet another term to learn )
Google’s time worn advice is, go back to basics, create strong content and be innovative. They would recommend strongly that you even create “link-bait” that will cause others to want to link to you.I like both this phrase and the thought – “if you have any idea what this link-bait thing means”.
Ignoring Google’s advice is always done at your own peril, however I urge you to examine the decision to get involved in creating link-bait more deeply.
Do you really have the 6-18 months that it takes to consistently create new articles almost daily, and to put out such a ferocious amount of high grade material in one spot that would cause people to socially bookmark that page on your site – If the answer is no then you understand why most of us will never ever intentionally create link-bait.
But, there are some real valid practical thesis on what consists link bait that will cause someone else to book mark your site’s page. If dozens of people are Socially Bookmarking your page on Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and the dozens of other social sites, this will, in fact, cause your page’s credibility to soar.
Creating titles with real content like
- 172 Ways to clean your neighbors back yard, without lifting a finger, that will net you a dozen beers each time
- 52 ways to get people to put money in an envelope and send it to you.
- 422 old things in your house that people might pay your 1,000 or more for.
- 22 Time tested love Reciepes that will cause the love of your life to throw themselves at your feet
The point here being that if you put enough information in one spot that is incredibly valuable, many people know that they will want to come back time and time again. They natural thing for most of them to do is book mark it. A few however, will bookmark it online, so that they can get to it from any machine and any browser irrespective of where they happen to be a year from now when they are once again trying to find that information.
Many more questions than answers, huh?
Post your questions below. I will try to answer them as best as I can.
If you are a search engine specialist yourself, feel free to comment on this article and help the less fortunate.
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