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Monday, November 22, 2004

Link Swapping Killing Websites

It's so refreshing to see this sentiment from other webmasters more often lately! Michael Cheney is one of a growing number of people who are starting to agree with me that the majority of websites have gone completely mad about linking. I'm happy to see some sense being talked after so long in absolute linking psychosis. In fact, I'd love to hear from others with innovative linking strategies to add to this discussion. Please join and post your responses if you have suggestions. I've recently reported from the World of Search Conference in Las Vegas, on the great effects of press relases as a link building method. I've written before about using testimonials as a linking strategy. Writing and distributing articles for use in ezines and newsletters is another well known technique and one I've used myself to gain wide exposure for a half dozen of my own sites and more recently, those of my clients. I've long contended that "reciprocal links" are dead and wish the rest of the webmasters who constantly email me asking for links would read my articles on web issues and send me theirs to use and link to them through the resource box, instead of asking for reciprocal links from me. I WON'T do it! PLEASE DON'T ASK!

Let's be DONE with RECIPROCAL LINKING! Here's Michael Cheney with his views on the subject . . .

5 Reasons Why Link Swapping Is Killing Your Website
by Michael Cheney

I created my first website in 1995 - it was so long ago I built it out of rock and wood, not HTML.

Shortly after it went live I realised that nobody apart from me could see it and it started to dawn on me what this 'Internet thing' is all about. It is not about having a stand-alone website plonked somewhere that nobody will ever see - it is about being part of an INTERconnected NETwork of other websites. INTER-NET. The penny dropped - I needed to start getting connected to other websites.

Much has changed since then (my hair got longer, shorter and has since started to recede further up my head for one thing) but it seems the desire and pressure you face as a website owner to exchange links shows no signs of fading. But link swapping is killing your website! Here's 5 Reasons why...

Reason No. 1 - It's Addictive!

It's true. You might not be that far down the link-swapping path yet but I promise you it will happen sooner or later. One day you'll find yourself laughing like a maniac as you run a report to see how many in-bound links you have and start rubbing your hands gleefully as you reach that magic milestone you set yourself six months ago. You'll start mainlining reciprocal links:

"Just one more link. Please - all I need is one more link!"

Take a deep breath, step back from the precipice and think for a moment. Why do you want all these links pointing to your website? No, honestly - why do you REALLY want all these links pointing to your website? To improve link popularity? You're falling into the trap. Do you want it to boost that little green bar that Google assigns to your page? (see Wise up!

Reason No. 2 - It Is Eating Away At Your Time Like A Hungry Hippo!

Just take a look at the last time you went out looking for a link and got it. How long did it take you? Not long? Well, let me put this another way - how long did it take you to find the right type of websites, look through those and find ones that even have a links page, find the contact information for the websites you wanted to contact, create the email, send the email, respond to the email, place their link on your website, check that they reciprocated with you, email back and forth a few times more and so on...?

If you add up all the minutes that each of these elements takes you could be looking at half an hour per reciprocal link established - maybe even longer!

And don't think you're cutting corners if you're using software. It might be quicker to find possible linking partners using software but it's a false economy as, to my knowledge, people are still cleverer than machines.

What I mean by this is I can tell if you email me using software rather than using your own fingers. If you go looking for reciprocal links using software you are FAR less likely to get a response so the whole process will probably take you as long in terms of time spent per link established.

Reason No. 3 - You Are Spending More Time On Other People's Websites Than Your Own

If you spend a lot of your time researching and creating reciprocal links you'd better make sure that your website is perfect. Remember - all that time you're spending developing reciprocal links could be spent adding new content to your website, sending out an up to date newsletter to your mailing list or even sitting down and writing out goals for your website.

If you spend all the time on improving your website, adding great content, providing excellent service, keeping it up to date, testing different headlines and homepage layouts INSTEAD of spending the time building links guess what? You will magically find that more people link to you anyway!

In fact - your website will become such a great resource because of all the time you're dedicating to it that people will go OUT OF THEIR WAY to link to you! How ironic is that?!

You go hunting for links and your site suffers and therefore hardly anybody links to you. You spend time on making your website THE BEST IT CAN BE and everyone starts linking to you as, shock horror, you have a brilliant website that is worth referring to..

Reason No. 4 - You Don't Have A Multi-Million Dollar Budget To Beat The Boffins

Those white-cloaked geeks over at Google towers and the like have millions of dollars at their disposal to create the latest technology that can sniff out the merest whiff of dodginess when it comes to link swapping.

If they think something is suspect you might get penalised. First you started to see sites that used the same phrase for their inbound links get penalised. Then it was sites that engaged with link farms. Who knows what's next?

Ultimately you can bet your bottom dollar that the search engines will change their tack with reciprocal links and their importance - some of them are already starting to look at the words that appear before and after each link to make sure it is on a relevant page and not just created as part of a reciprocal linking deal.

It's a risky game we're all playing and my money's on the guys with the white coats and millions of dollars..

Reason No. 5 - You Are The Weakest Link, Goodbye!

When push comes to shove this whole 'game' of website marketing is about balance.

Imagine you are a tightrope walker. Fifty metres beneath you is a huge vat of boiling hot lava. To help you across the rope from the podium of "website launch" to the podium of "website success" you get a balancing rod.

Spending too much time and effort on reciprocal link building is like having a large sack on one end of the rod. This sack has an elephantin it. The elephant is wearing boots. Made from concrete. Get the picture?

Michael Cheney
Author of The Website Marketing BibleTM - Download your free Sampler of The Website Marketing BibleTM now and get free bonuses worth £159 ($288)


Blogger said...

There is great value in quality link swaps. Discrediting them as bunk and using at the same time (even through ezine articles) is what some would call hypocritical. Mr. Cheney's article is riddled with opinions, appears thrown together and does not even mention Google's Guidelines for Webmasters. On this page ( the very first thing to do after your site is ready is to "have relevant sites link to yours." Any good webmaster would know that quality link swaps are part of an overall great SEO campaign.

9:40 PM  
Blogger SEOptimism said...

Sorry AcesCafe, I disagree strenuously. ;-)

I've even started to respond to link swap requests at my sites by sending a standard boilerplate reply to those requesting link swaps.

My linking policy is to link only to those who provide content for my site. If you would like to contribute an article, case study or relevant text content for Website101, I'd be happy to consider using it and link to you through a resource box at the end of it.

Likewise, I'd prefer that you use one of my articles at your site and link back to me through my resource box, rather than a simple link swap. You can find a wide selection of articles to use at my article archive for a list of available articles.

If you would like to know more about my linking policy, please read this article.


Mike Banks Valentine
562-572-9702 Direct

10:39 AM  

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