NEW: Chris Thomas

Yes, linking is a great tool. Now you’ve heard some more about it, it’s time to get strategic.

Mastering the link fundamentals

Even though the topic of linking isn’t at the cutting edge of internet marketing discussions (like Web 2.0), for the time being it’s still one of the fundamentals of search engine optimisation and targeted traffic generation. It should certainly not be over-looked!

As I mentioned last week, a one way link pointing to your website from another is nearly always the better than a reciprocal link where two websites swap links. Reciprocal links are widely accepted as “OK” in the eyes of search engines – it makes sense that two websites with similar thematic content should exchange links.

There are two major benefits of creating reciprocal links between your website and others:

  1. You stand to gather traffic from your link partner.
  2. You improve your link popularity in the eyes of the major search engines and in some cases boost your own rankings and even PageRank.

There is a school of thought that reciprocal linking has little benefit because the links cancel each other out. That’s true up to a point, but if you do it right, you can obtain real search engine ranking benefits.

Here are some tips to get the maximum benefit when exchanging links:

  • You should always exchange links with a website that has similar content to yours and appears to be a worthwhile site with real content.
  • Avoid exchanging links with websites that have unrelated content; you know the ones; casinos, porn sites, and other “dodgy” websites (which could be black-banned at any moment). If you do, you may find your site being dragged down the rankings or even penalised and removed from the index altogether. If you have any of those sorts of links on your site, remove them right now!
  • Try and grab a link from a website that has a higher PageRank than yours. Even if the “link page” of your partner has a low PR, check the PageRank of their home page. If it’s quite high (say, PR 3, 4 or 5), then it’s probably worthwhile in the long run.
  • Make sure the links pointing to your website do not have a “nofollow” tag in the html link code. To view the code that the search engines see, right click somewhere on the page and search the “view source” for “nofollow”. If it does, then you’re being denied the link benefit as the search engine spiders won’t follow the link and won’t pass on any PageRank.

Don’t get sucked into a three way link exchange. This is where three websites link to each other in a triangular way to avoid reciprocal linking and try to obtain what looks like a one way link.

Of course this also applies to 4 and 5 way link exchanges. Google’s onto this system and could penalise you for trying to artificially manipulate the index.

Of course, one of the hardest things to do is find link partners. So to fill the gap portals have sprung up to bring people who want to exchange links together. One of the better ones I’ve used in the past is LinkPartners – which is free and sorts linking partners into related categories.

Please avoid automated link exchanging systems. They can violate Google’s terms of service because they send automated queries to the search engine when looking for related link exchange partners on your behalf.

Finally, if you’re really serious about out-ranking your competitor, then visit the sites that link to them and try and obtain a link from them as well. You can do this by visiting Yahoo and Google and typing into the search bar:

There’s one more week to go on this scintillating topic. Hang in there!


Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine marketing company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.


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