Linking 101 for white hats

Besides my black hat activities, I also run a few white hat sites. Like most white hat sites out there, they often get link exchange requests. The one I got recently made me go “duh…” and write this post to clarify some things for those white hats who still seem to live in 1998 or around that time and can’t keep up with the current do’s and don’t’s. I was really surprised to see some people are still not even slightly familiar wiht the concepts that seem natural for any SEO.

The email went along these usual lines:

We are glad to let you know that we have identified your website
as a potential link partner and have placed a link to your site from our site …

– etc., etc… Problem is, their site is actually a blog on their own domain, and the person who wrote the link exchange request doesn’t seem to be very familiar wiht the site structure as she mentioned a certain page where the link was supposedly placed while due to its blog nature that same sidebar with links appeared on every one of their pages, thus making all the links they added to it sitewide links.

There were other problems with that link exchange offer as well. The page I was offered a link on had a PR of 0 while their home page had a PR of 5 – not like it would matter considering their structure – but still… And of course, they wanted a reciprocal link from my site. I don’t even want to mention the fact that they lied in their email and the link to my site hasn’t been present anywhere on theirs at the time the request was sent.

I wrote back giving them a little crash course on the current Google algo and its love for reciprocal linking and sitewide links – suggesting that I place a link to them on my other site with equally high PR and similar topic if they place a single (not sitewide) link to my site on their home page. Hope they appreciate my free SEO crash course and at least thank me for saving them a load of headache 🙂

To all the white hat SEOs out there doing link exhcnages, I can advise the following:
1. Avoid sitewide links.
2. Doing reciprocal linking is like asking for trouble. Go for subtler linking schemes like black hat SEOs do – that works better.
3. When exchanging links with another site, look at the pagerank of the actual page the link ot your site will be placed on, NOT the site’s home page PR. The home page may have a PR of 8 but it would do you no good if the page your link is on has a PR of 0.

Talking about link exchange request emails in general, I normally regard most fo them as spam (that they so often are), and only took time to reply to this one since it really amazed me how ignorant some people calling themselves SEOs can still be.

Finally, before sending a link exchange email or replying to one you got, read this excellent article by Jim Boykin listing the cases when a link exchange email should be simply deleted.

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