Jan 3, 2011

To Link or Not To Link (your website to another) - How To Avoid "Link Farms"

Most all website owners/managers have received this type of email - a "reciprocal link request" from a total stranger.  Here's a typical example:
Copy of Email from LINK FARM:
...and I manage a wide variety of websites and have found that adding links on my site to other related sites is beneficial for both parties involved. My research has shown that linking with similar sites shows a significant increase of website traffic. I came across your website ABCcompany{dot}com and would be very interested in adding your link to my site; provided you are able to add a link back to one of my sites. If I have made a mistake by sending this to the wrong address, please simply click reply and I will remove your email from my mailing list. Below I have included the details I would like you to use when adding my link to your site:
URL: XYZcompany{dot}com
Title: _____ ________ ________
Description: _________________ ___________ __ _____________ __________ _______
If you are interested in my offer, please reply to this email and let me know where you have added my link. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you!++++++++++++++++

1) it comes from someone you don't know
2) it involves a website totally unrelated to your company/products/services/industry
3) this email was sent to you because your website indicates that this address deals with requests of this type.
3) it offers to "help you" remove yourself from their mailing list by clicking reply (this confirms they hit an active email account, which increases the value of your email address when they sell it to other spammers and scammers)

Regarding these types of emails, I encourage all Cole WebMarketing clients to be very cautious and be careful to avoid "link farms". These are sites that exist primarily for the purpose of providing a huge number of links to often completely unrelated websites. They are frowned upon by Google and the other search engines because "# of links to your site" is considered to be a factor in how GoogleBot, Slurp and other major search engines "index your site" (determine rank, listings, etc.). This is the main reason link farms are considered a "black hat (bad) SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactic".
QUALITY RECIPROCAL LINKS = White Hat SEO: Increasing your "back links" (inbound links from other sites to your site) is considered an effective "white hat (good) SEO tactic". It's advisable that you try to get as many websites as possible to link INTO your site. Linking OUT to other sites only helps them. That's why ''reciprocal links'' are best - both related sites link to each other to help both the human site visitor (get additional info.) AND makes your site more "search engine friendly".

OUTBOUND LINK RISKS: A final word of caution regarding linking out to other sites from your website - as you know, our world today is one filled with a "information overload" and web surfers have developed a very short attention span.  If you link out to another website, be aware that you may decrease your "conversion ratio" (visitors turning into customers).  The prospect at your site might have been just about to order, call, email you, bookmark, share, or take another buying action, but you distracted them with a link to another website.  Also, if you are a dealer or distributor, linking out to the "manufacturer" website might cost you a sale/customer if the other site makes it easy to find your competitors. An outbound link is best from dealer to manufacturer when you have an exclusive or protected territory.

For more information about this blog post topic, please visit CarolinaWebsiteDesign.com (note the inbound link I just included here!) and then call Cole WebMarketing at 704-503-7069 to discuss your business, your website and how we may be able to help you improve your SEO efforts with a quality link building program.

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