Today I was pretty amazed to read an article by the Sr. Product Manager of Microsoft, Skip Chilcott who openly endorsed that webmasters should participate in Link Exchange as it helps to boost the rankings in search engines.
This is what Google has to say about participating in Link schemes:
…some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.
This is what Microsoft’s guideline says (Important part in Bold):
..Techniques that might prevent your website from appearing in Live Search results
The following techniques aren’t appropriate uses of the Live Search index. Use of these techniques might affect how your website is ranked within Live Search, and might cause your website to be removed from the index….. – Using techniques, such as link farms, to artificially increase the number of links to your webpage.
Yahoo also takes a similar stance about Link exchange –
What Yahoo! Considers Unwanted: … Sites cross-linked excessively with other sites to inflate a site’s apparent popularity (link schemes)….
Now I wonder why would Skip Chilcott of Microsoft would publicly recommend participating in Link exchange scheme (a semi black-hat technique) and also endorse certain software/firms for that purpose.
Why Do I strongly discourage Link Exchange Schemes
Search Engine has become competitive and more useful for people (like us). We heavily depend on search engine to find useful & relevant information everyday. The reason we find ‘search engines’ useful is because – It allows us to find what we are looking for in a quick time. But as more and more people starts to ‘game’ the search engine, there will be more ‘spam’ and ‘low quality results’ in the respected engines. One way of stopping that spam is to, making sure that the Search algorithm doesn’t take ‘certain’ attributes into consideration that can be artificially manipulation (E.g. low quality links). Google (The primary engine that I personally uses) has taken several measures in past and has discounted those ‘bad links’ from counting. They have discouraged and taken necessary action to prevent webmasters from gaming the search ranking using those ‘shady SEO techniques’.
Even though I may not 100% agree to what Google does (they do have some strict ruling about a lot of things), I do agree that Reciprocal Linking or participating in automated link exchange program does not benefit the user at all and it just benefits the webmaster to game the whole system! And if search engines are gamed, then it will lose it’s usefulness.
And when such ‘shady advice’ comes directly from the Sr. Product manager of Microsoft, it just makes everything clear to me that why Live Search has been so far away in producing anything but good results!
Update: Skip Chilcott has created another post, identifying the mistake he made in his first post. This time He has asked a colleague over at Live Search to share some expert advice on linking best practices. [ I'm really looking forward to that post ]
What Kind of Link Exchange Are Possible White Hat?
- Links that helps the user to find more useful information on that particular subject.
- Links that are not promoting or giving Link juice to a site that is spammy in nature
- Links exchange that are primarily meant for Traffic and not for “search engine ranking”
- Links that you would want to recommend to the search engine because of their quality and value to you and your users
Natural Link building techniques that many Search Experts recommend:
8 Ways to Buy Links Without “Buying Links”, Rand Fishkin – SEOmoz.org
Should I Avoid Link Exchange / Link Trading Hubs?, Aaron Wall – SEObook.com
The definitive link building strategy, Web Credible
101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website, Aaron Wall – SEOBook.com
Link Building Tutorial – A Complete Walkthrough, Saad Kamal
Five Link Building Strategies That Work, Brian Clark – Copyblogger