These pages with countless links to other websites were created during the fervor of link popularity when it was thought that the more links that linked to your website, the higher your website ranked in search engines such as Google. It was also thought that a reciprocal link between sites, any site, counted in your favor. Link farms sprung up, and website owners have been bombarded with reciprocal link requests ever since. Software and entire websites were launched to make creating link farms easier. But, many SEO professionals refused to use them, finding them to be a waste of time and website real estate, and an obvious desperate measure. My advice to my clients was from a usability perspective. Pages listing hundreds of websites leading OFF your website was illogical, especially if your website was trying to generate sales leads or sell products or services. The appearance of link farm pages made some websites appear unprofessional.
It didn't take long for search engine databases to become clogged up with pages upon pages that did nothing more than link to websites. This was their only purpose. Since search engines and directories want to provide relevant search results with quality pages for their users, link farm pages became quite a nuisance. Search engines began to penalize websites containing link farm pages. The workaround for that was to disconnect the link farm pages from the main site, but keep the game going in an effort to convince people to link back to your website.
Link Farm Request Checklist
The gig is up. Here's a checklist based on my own experiences, and those of other webmasters who contributed their thoughts on the subject in a recent Cre8asiteForums.com thread on this subject. If any of these seem obvious to you, link at your own risk:
Despite the negative approaches to link requests, there's definitely good reasons to seek them. If you see a website that offers something of value to your target audience, by all means, link to it. I always appreciate hearing from well researched inquiries. I can tell when someone has studied my website and has shown me a great spot on theirs to link mine. They take the extra step of pointing out on my website where they think their website should be linked. Most times they're correct.
Remember that it's not just the number of links back to your website that contribute to your rank jackpot. What counts is where your URL is placed, the amount and quality of its neighbor links and whether or not the page is even linked to the main domain at all. And that's just for starters. There's a lot more to linking and influence on rank than just a few basic guidelines. If you really want your website to rank well, build a good website that people find useful and want to return to, study branding and how that can help you, and of course, like everything else in a competitive environment, promote and market it effectively and wisely.
December 19, 2002
Kimberly Krause Berg is the owner of Cre8pc.com, Cre8asiteForums.com and co-founder of Cre8asite Webmaster Resources Directory.
Kim's career began in 1996 as the Webmaster for an Internet magazine publishing company. Later, while working for "dotcoms", she built websites, incorporated search engine optimization and performed Internet software application usability/user interface testing. For years she freelanced on the side by performing search engine optimization services via Cre8pc.com. Now a self-employed usability/SEO consultant, this mother of 2 is an advocate for home and small businesses. She specializes in what she calls the "marriage between search engine optimization and usability" and to that end offers Cre8pc and Cre8asiteForums as teaching sites.
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