Part I: Linking Practices That Will Hurt your
Search Engine Rankings
Quality linking practices are encouraged by the
major search engines as an acceptable way of improving site popularity,
website traffic and help contribute to higher search engine rankings.
As a webmaster you must be wary of engaging in poor linking practices
that have the potential to strip your website of its ranking status on
the major search engines Google, Yahoo and MSN.
In this two part Article Series we will firstly discuss those linking
practices that will find your website penalized by the major search
engines, with the most current controversy over ‘paid links’.
Google has recently penalized several sites with ranking drops for
violating its quality webmaster guidelines by selling paid links. This
penalty can also be applied to those sites displaying ‘paid links’ that
are considered spam or of low quality by the search engines and provide
users with a poor browsing experience.
Not all paid linking will be penalized, the current focus tends to be
on those links that are primarily being used to manipulate search
engine rankings. Purchasing paid links may also affect your rankings if
the originating site selling the links is considered to be a ‘bad
neighborhood’ site by the major search engines, your site’s
rankings can be affected by association. As a general rule, avoid
companies selling links who are promoting paid links that are ‘hard to
detect by a search engine’ and with the recent increase in the
reporting of paid links to Google, their ranking algorithms are being
adjusted to detect such paid links.
The advice from Google on paid links is that it’s okay to promote paid
links that are aimed at increasing website traffic but are not being
used to manipulate search engine rankings. If you are using paid links:-
• Add a ‘no follow attribute’ to the linking info (see Google for more
info on how to do this).
• You can also redirect the links to an intermediate page that is
blocked from the search engines with robots.txt file.
• Clearly define paid advertising links on your site to the search
engines ie. with a ‘sponsored link’ title heading.
Another linking practice that is discouraged by the major search
engines is using Link Farms to artificially
increase a site’s link popularity. Link farms are usually classified as
a website or web page that displays a series of links to other
unrelated sites and displays no content of real value or interest to
site visitors. These types of links pages are usually created by
automated software programs and services. To avoid being caught linking
to a ‘link farm’ vigorously check all link exchange requests and the
reciprocal URL location of your link on their site. Link farms will be
obvious in nature as no actual web content will be present for site
visitors except links and often the link exchange will be represented
as a ‘3 way link’ exchange.
‘3 Way Linking’ has been an emerging
trend over the past 12 months and is designed to quickly boost the
search engine rankings and online presence of the requesting link
partners site by anonymously building link pages that have no direct
link to them so that they can’t be penalized by the search engines for
deceptive SEO practices. 3 Way Links are of little or no benefit to
your site or your linking campaign as typically the third party site
that your link is located on has no content relevance to your own site
or worse still it is just a ‘link farm’. Once again your site’s search
engine rankings can be penalized by association.
Check link exchange requests carefully as often 3 way linking practices
are hidden in the link request, in some cases you may agree to a link
exchange with a site whose content is similar to yours only to find
that when the link exchange is completed that your link has been placed
on a third party site. Often the site requesting the link exchange does
not even have a links page set up on their site. 3 Way Links can also
be represented as ‘triangular link exchanges’.
The final linking practice we will look at is ‘Cross Linking’.
Excessively cross-linking sites of unrelated content can and will
violate the quality webmaster guidelines of Google, Yahoo and MSN. This
linking practice is generally used to artificially increase the number
of links to a site and link popularity with the main aim of
manipulating the search engine rankings. Even if you are the owner of
multiple sites it is unwise to cross link them if the content of the
sites is unrelated.
I came across a prime example of cross-linking recently when analyzing
a potential new client’s site for SEO & website marketing
recommendations. What I discovered was that their existing SEO provider
had excessively cross-linked their site to all their other clients
sites under the disguise of ‘site map’ pages which were not only
numerous in quantity but also keyword stuffed. This practice has
somehow gotten past the ranking algorithms of Google and Yahoo most
likely because the pages were being represented as ‘site map’ pages
however the site had been penalized by MSN with no rankings showing
The only way of bringing up the site on MSN was to type in the site’s
direct URL address. The site owner was completely unaware of this
breach which was explained away by this SEO company as the search
engine results for MSN being inconclusive on the day they were searched
for reporting purposes. To a novice, this explanation probably seems
viable – so website owners be wary and don’t be afraid to ask questions
as to why your site is not receiving rankings in at least the top 10
pages of the search engine results for Google, Yahoo & MSN
especially if you are paying for professional SEO services. Avoid
automated software being added to your site primarily for SEO purposes,
organic search engine results are certainly achievable without the
application of automated software which usually displays web pages of
lower quality than your main web pages and certainly be wary of site
maps being developed for your site in the format I have described
above. These are generally placed in the footer of your home page with
the words site map preceding them, followed by an A – Z listing of site
map web pages. This doesn’t apply to software added to your site to
record site statistics for performance analysis.
Positive linking practices will be discussed in Part 2 of this Article
© Rosemary Donald, Rank1 Website Marketing 5th November, 2007
Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/seo-articles/
About the Author
Rosemary Donald is an SEO Consultant with Rank1
Website Marketing (www.rank1websitemarketing.com) and author of the SEO
ebook 'Insider Secrets of Rank1 Websites' available for $29.95 AU.
Rosemary is a regular contributor to online article sites on the topics
of SEO, website marketing, ecommerce, search engine marketing and small
Rosemary is also a successful online trader and owner of
www.sabujewellery.com a top ranking on site on Google, Yahoo and MSN
with experience in online marketing, export sales, importing, growing
customer bases, ecommerce customer service, online sales generation and
Rank 1 search engine marketing.