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Rethinking Linking - Link Exchange Back to Basics
By: Kai Virihaur
In the old days of the internet, links were the primary
communication path between web sites. Search engines were
not as sophisticated as today, and search results rather
crude. Actually, even today links are reported to be more
used than search engine results; but the latter are
increasing their share.
In a way, this began to change when Google entered the
scene. In an effort to make search results more relevant,
Google implemented an algoritm that judged the quality of a
web site by the number of other sites linking to it. It
seemed rather obvious that a popular, much linked-to, site
should be of higher relevance than a site with few links
pointing to it.
Unfortunately, as webmasters realized this a frantic
stampede began. Everybody did whatever they could to secure
as many incoming links as possible. One example: In my own
field, web hosting reviews, there is a site that has
(according to Yahoo) 4,000,000 incoming links pointing to
it! Yes, FOUR MILLION links! By comparison, Microsoft.com
has only about 3,000,000 incoming links!
I won't speculate on just how those 4,000,000 links were
collected, but surely it can't have been by manually asking
those 4,000,000 webmasters for a link exchange! And I also
doubt that the 4,000,000 webmasters just spontaneously
thought "Wow, I will put up a link to this cool web hosting
review site"! Yes, even cooler than Microsoft.com,
As we all know now, Google got tired of having its search
results manipulated in this way. So they tweaked their
ranking algoritms (one tweak widely known as the dreaded
"Florida Update"), to put an end to these methods. They
started actively punishing web sites that were caught using
devices such as "Free For All" link exchange sites, and
implemented many other measures also; too many to mention
So, getting many inbound links is a dead concept now? That
is what some people claim, but they are wrong! What IS dead
is the idea that links are nothing but search engine food.
Rather, we are getting back in the direction of the good ol'
days, when links were not there just to bait the search
bots. Some folks may have forgotten that links really are
there to serve as paths of communication for Real People.
Inbound links to a web site means paths for humans to enter,
and browse the content. And that is what all of us
webmasters want: VISITORS!
This also means: stop trying to manipulate search engines.
Keep your directory of links, if it does provide some real
value to visitors. But if those links are just a messy
jumble, hidden somewhere in a dusty corner of your site -
repent! Get those links out of the closet, let them breathe
some fresh air!
About the Author
Kai Virihaur is a web developer, researcher, and artist. He runs
The Hosting Finder (www.thehostingfinder.com), a web hosting directory featuring articles and RSS feeds on web development, web site promotion, and internet marketing.
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