Links Exchange ? a Hazardous Business?

So we gather in all the relevant information we can possibly find, and include it in all the right places, taking great care in linking our pages properly, optimise each page in turn with a list of 'keywords' - and making sure that the most relevant keywords are reflected in each pages 'title tags'..

After having done everything we can possibly think of 'at home', - we become aware of the importance of having 'inbound links' from other websites, especially from ones of a similar nature to our own little masterpiece, - how a multitude of other sites referring to our site can ultimately make our site look more important to a search engines 'spider', and therefore gain in stature within the index of the search engine and move closer to the top of the list of results presented.

At this point we'll probably come to the conclusion, that the least time consuming way to achieve these 'inbound links' is by joining one of the many links exchange programs available on the internet, - such as LinkMarket or InfoWizards ? to find other like-minded souls, who are also looking for fresh links into their websites.

These are free to join ? although they promote paid options as well ? and on the whole work well by letting you (and other webmasters) peruse a list of sites that actively engage in one-for-one exchanges of links with their sites. ? You look at the classified listings in their directory, decide which sites you would like to 'partner with', tick a box to apply for an exchange, - which will automatically then be 'proposed' to the other sites owner for them to decide whether to 'partner' with you or not, and if they accept your proposal you'll be notified and asked to put up a link from your site to theirs.

At this point one could easily get carried away thinking: - YES! Recognition at last. And - sadly - it appears that many webmasters ? especially of commercial sites ? factor this into their thinking. Knowing that ? as the proposer ? you must link to them first, they'll either take a very long time to put up a link for your site - (months) ? or simply not bother at all, hoping that you'll forget about it as you're busily chasing after more sites to exchange with.

Well ? you've now been warned ? DO NOT forget about it. Having put your link up to their sites, - give them SOME time ? say a couple of weeks ? to respond.

But - remember: all the time you're waiting, your links to them are likely to be producing benefits for their sites, - and if enough suckers do this, they will - in total ? have many hundreds of inbound links, for which they are not providing any return benefits at all, - thereby gaining much in Page Rank for no loss of their own!

Keep your wits about you. Before proposing or accepting a trade of links visit their site and check if there is a link from their Main Page to wherever they have their out going links. Then visit the links pages ? be sure to keep an eye on the address bar in your browser ? many, many sites are now engaged in the practice of having their links on a different site to the one you're linking to, which again - usually - is an attempt to gain an unfair advantage on you.

One exception would be, where they are engaging in a proper 3 way exchange simply in order for the search-engines not to detect the fact that links are being reciprocated, - which is a good idea as long as both sites on offer are 'proper' sites, - but they should be honest and tell you about this up front! All too often you'll find sites that are nothing but a device for providing 'cheap' return links to the likes of you and me.

Also on the increase are sites that will put up your link pretty smartly, often from a well rated page, but then after a week or two, - having allowed you to verify that your link is where you were told it would be ? guess what? It disappears again. What a surprise!

A possible tell-tale sign for you to beware of, would be sites showing a high Google PR, whilst having a very few outbound links on their links pages. I have seen quite a few sites with PR[6] or more and less than 50 outbound links in their directory!

One must ask hard questions like: Are they really that good, that thousands of sites would be linking to them without a return link?? - or: Is the content that good and original, that it would warrant that high a rating simply for quality reasons, - considering that most sites struggle to achieve PR[3] or PR [4]??

All this having been said, don't be put off, - just keep your wits about you and ask yourself pertinent questions, and ? most importantly: check, check and check again . . The 'smarter' Google gets, - the harder some people will be trying to con you.

- just an afterthought:

Although we are told that the Google search engine increasingly tend to 'discount' ? (for Page Rank purposes) - links that are reciprocated in this way, they should nevertheless be worthwhile for another reason: - they guide the search engine's spider back into your site for another quick scan each time that page is visited, thereby helping any new content added or any changes to your site to be discovered and indexed that much quicker than if left to it's own devices.

Per Dindorp created and maintains a number of popular tourism orientated sites in and about Somerset, - UK including

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