You’ve done all the right things to ensure you get the best possible search engine ranking for your site: optimized the right keywords, your meta tags, even wrote brilliant content that the world is about to fall in love with.
Now you are moving on to the most important part of any search engine ranking strategy: link building.
But wait a minute. Looks like you are in luck!
You get an email similar to this one:
As I was surfing around Google , I discovered your website: http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/ I am trying to add as many informative websites as possible to my site. Which in turn will benefit my users as well as provide you with relevant traffic to your site. I have a website with about 5,000 – 7,000 people on it per day who fit the same demographic as your site.
If you follow this link, http://www.widgets.com/?pg=2eC4L you will see that I put your link on my homepage.
Some website owners do not like when other sites link to them so I thought I might ask for your review.
Please get back to me when you have a chance, to let me know if the link I have placed suits your needs. Also if you would like a custom Title for it just send me a email and I will get it updated.
Have a good week
Of course, you check out their website first.
You see a good amount of backlinks, very few outgoing links, decent PR 3-5 – all in all, LOOKS like a good reciprocal link building candidate.
Do you go for it?
Well, let’s take a closer look at this reciprocal link building request.
Look at the URL in the email and you’ll see a referral code in it (usually looks like ?pg= or ?ref=).
This either sets a cookie when you click on it or logs your IP (or both), which makes your site “appear in the sidebar”.
For all intents and purposes, you see your site link somewhere in their sidebar, but the truth is this info is entirely manipulated and if you clear your cookie cache or take a look at the website from a different IP, your link will be nowhere to be found.
Here are some other signs that this reciprocal link building request is nothing but a scam:
1. Look for the presence of a line within the <head> section of the code that looks like this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow” />
This tells search engines that this page should not be indexed and not to follow links on the page.
So, if your page is listed on this page, it will be ignored by the search engines.
2. Robots exclusion
Take a look at the site’s robots.txt file (www.theirdomainname.com/robots.txt) and look for a line that excludes the page containing external links.
Again, if a line like this exists, the site manager is a link grabber and any of your links on their site won’t be given credit by Search Engines.
3. Indirect links to your site
If you’ve managed to avoid all the above reciprocal link building pitfalls and you are ready to get your link added to the link exchanger’s site, hold on, we’re not done yet. Even if they are honest enough not to have written clever code to fool the search engines, you may find that links on their site aren’t all they appear to be.
For example, they may be using code behind what appears to be a genuine link to redirect to another page, which then launches your website. This is all well and good for human visitors, but a search engine will never run that code.
Say the link appears to go to www.mywebsite.com, take a look at the code and you may see something like this:
You’ll see that instead of giving search engines some nice clear keywords and a website to visit, they are directing the link to a piece of code that will then forward the visitor (but not necessarily a search engine to the site).
Reciprocal Link Building Scams Wrap Up
This is a very unfortunate practice in the race for better search engine ranking. It’s unethical, cunning, and it makes more and more website owners implement “nofollow” policy on their blogs/sites.
Another word of caution: be careful when hiring an SEO company to do your link building. If they happen to employ any of the tricks above, your blog runs a risk of being labeled as unethical in the community – not the kind of reputation you want to have.
My thanks go out to www.earnersblog.com and www.geeksaloud.com for the idea and facts for this post.
You are right: you don’t have to comment or retweet, but would it help if I told you it would be much appreciated? 🙂