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Bad Link Exchange Practices and SEO Mistakes

If you do link exchange, make sure you are doing it right! Avoid being scammed by the tricks some webmasters use!

Here are a number of pitfalls to watch out for when exchanging links and applying SEO practices to your site:

  1. Inaccessible Link Pages

    Sometimes an unscrupulous webmaster will send you an invitation to exchange links, and say that they've placed a link to your site on their link page. You check out the link, it's there. You check out their homepage, it looks good - worth a link from your site.

    BUT - make sure that you can find a link from their home page to their links page. It may be indirect, such as via a site map, which is fine too. But if there is now way for you to navigate from the site's home page to its links page, then there's no way for the search engine spiders to find the links page - and the link to your site will do you no good.

    Some webmasters who do this are unaware that they haven't placed a link to their links page, and just need a reminder. Others will do this purposefully. If the site's links page has a PageRank greater than 0, then you can be assured that the search engines can and do know about the links page. If its PageRank is 0, then the page may be new or it may be inaccessible to search engines.

  2. Invalid or Indirect Links

    When exchanging links, check each new link to your site to make sure that it is a valid link that will contribute link popularity (and PageRank) to your site.

    One thing to look out for is links that link to a script on the other site (and the script then redirects to your site). These links do not help you. Another trick to look out for is links that include the nofollow tag, which tells search engines not to follow the link at all. These links will likewise do you no good.

    I recommend using an automated program such as LinkMachine that will check your reciprocal links for you and will not count indirect or nofollow links.

  3. Linking to Banned Pages

    Google doesn't allow "offpage" factors to decrease your site's search ranking. That is to say, if a link farm or a site that's been banned by Google links to your site, this won't have a negative affect on your site (it won't have a positive affect either).

    However, if your site links to a page that's been banned by Google, that can have a detrimental affect on the ranking of your page in search results. So avoid including on your site any links to sites that have been banned by Google. If a site has a PageRank of 0 even though it is not new, there's a fair bet that it's been banned by Google. Look up the site's domain in Google, and if nothing comes up, you know the site's been banned and it's best not to link to it.

  4. Unvaried Anchor Text

    It's become increasingly important to avoid having all of the links to your site use the same anchor text as one another. Google interprets this lack of variety as the result of artificial link popularity, and reduces its positive influence on search rankings. Therefore, try to encourage variety on the anchor text used on links to your site.

    If you send out link exchange invitations, change the wording of the site title or link anchor text that you suggest in the invitation. An easy way to do this is to send out link invitations using LinkMachine, which has an alternate profiles feature that lets you enter various different anchor texts, and it will choose randomly from among these in the link exchange invitations you send out.

  5. Whole Site Linking

    Purchasing text links from sites that sell them can be useful in some cases. But be careful not to purchase a link from a site that will place your link on every page in their site. So many identical links from the same IP address make Google's spider suspicious, and recently Google has been ignoring the influence of whole site links like that.

  6. Doorway Pages and Cloaking

    Don't fall for one of those SEO schemes that uses "doorway pages" (sometimes known as "advertising pages" or "promotional pages") and/or "cloaking" to generate lots of links to your site. While such techniques may see good results in the short term, they are prohibited by Google and may eventually result in your site being banned from Google.