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My thoughts about Linking
There has been a lot of confusion among search engine marketers lately about linking. So, this article will attempt to explain my thoughs about linking in 2005.
The more links there are to a website the more the search engines tend to "overlook" bad linking practices (such as same-ip-address linking, same-owner-linking, etc.). There seems to be a certain "threshold" or "number of links" you must have. Once you pass that "threshold" or "number of links" then the search engines start ignoring what I call the "bad linking".
I define "bad linking" or "bad linking practices" as these types of links:
- Same ip address linking. Two sites reside on the same IP address. They trade links or one site links to another.
- Off-topic linking. Why should your casino site link to my site about puppies? Why should my puppies site exchange links with your casino site?
- Same-owner linking. You own two websites about two different topics. Why should they link together?
I build sites and I link where it is logical and helpful, I do not chase links for links sake and most link exchange requests that hit my e-mail go ignored. If you concentrate on logical and helpful then you don't need to worry about off-topic link exchange requests (we all ignore them anyway). The links coming and going from your website will be logical and helpful, which is exactly what the search engines and your visitors want.
The search engines are put in a tough position--they have a tough job to do. They have to decide which links are logical and helpful and which links exist just to try to manipulate their search engine algorithms. It's the search engine's goal to give their users unbiased search results--search results that cannot be easily manipulated by certain people or people they identify as "spammers" (Google's biggest nemesis according to their SEC filing). It is my opinion that the search engines consider a biased link to be a same-owner link between two sites, links between sites on the same Class C block, off-topic links, and any other links that exist just to try to manipulate their search results.
It is my belief that soon we will see a time where off-topic reciprocal linking is considered to be spam.
You have to ask yourself: why am I trading links? Why I am reciprocating a link with this other website? There's really no need to trade links with other sites. If your site has enough good content then other websites that are on-topic will link to you naturally.
The search engines are looking for good internet citizens--websites that are good members of the internet community as a whole. Websites that are "good internet citizens" have good content about their subject, they naturally get links from other on-topic websites, and they naturally "link out" to other on-topic websites.
Off-topic reciprocal links wreaks (smells) like search engine manipulation.
The search engines are looking for search engine manipulation. The foundations of the web are natural linking among websites--links that are both logical and helpful. Reciprocal Links are not logical and helpful because they are normally not integrated into the content of a website. They're typically just stuck on a page somewhere as a part of the navigation or at the bottom of the page.
Many search engine marketers have been saying that Google has tightening things up lately. They've actually been going more towards an on-topic website universe, or what they call the Google LocalRank algorithm. The so-called "innocent" websites have been suffering because they've typically gotten caught-up in what others have told them is okay to do (the stuff I call "bad linking" ) , anything that seems innocent enough but just ends up being some way of trying to manipulate the search results. (I.e., links like this: "trading off-topic links with my buddy sounds innocent enough because he's my buddy. His site has a Pr6 and I really want a higher PageRank." Then Google tightens up their on-topic natural algorithm and both of those buddies get whacked.)
I follow a lot of websites that have always done logical and helpful linking. They've never suffered any rankings problems since the 1990s. I don't care how innocent your site is, if you try to manipulate Google's search engine algorithm in any way your innocent website will suffer--and rightly so.
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Copyright 2003-2005 by Bill Hartzer. All rights reserved.