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Text link brokers do a good job by connecting related Web sites and handling their traffic deals. It looks like a win-win situation, but there are pitfalls with regard to search engines, who try to devaluate all non-editorial links because their ranking algorithms aren't perfect. Commercial link trades aren't evil, but risky without link condom.

Since this site now carries advertisements for a text link broker, it's time to explain the role of ad/link brokers in traffic management from a search engine's point of view, and to discuss risks and benefits from a site owner's perspective. To make a long story short, well done link trades are not penalized by search engines, but there are risks. Many professional link/traffic brokers offer extremely valuable services, and paying for links is not evil.

Links are an important ranking factor for all major search engines. Natural links do boost the ranking of the destination page, thus the engines try to discover each link's intention. Their goal is to conclude advertisements and other types of bought links to prevent their ranking algorithms from counting those as editorial links.

To find out whether a particular link is bought or not, search engines make use of high sophisticated algorithms like block analysis etc., and there are reviews by humans. Neither artificial intelligence nor human driven components of their judgement on the intention of links can determine the character of each and every link out there. However, they do know a lot more than Joe Webmaster can imagine, and they silently devalue links, that is they take away a page's -- or even a complete Web site's -- ability to pass reputation in its links, if the site doesn't devalue paid non-editorial links itself.

The search engines try to create an ideal world for their link based ranking algorithms by requesting link condoms for all non-editorial links. By adding rel="nofollow" to a paid link's A element, this particular link is marked as castrated. A castrated link is powerless with regard to SE rankings, that means it will not pass theme relevancy via keywords in its anchor text, it will not pass topical relevancy from its context, it will not pass PageRank (link popularity), TrustRank or anything other than human traffic to the destination page. Search engine crawlers do follow castrated links to fetch the destination page, and they show them in backlink searches, but links with condom -- and links from pages where the SE has taken away the ability to pass any reputation -- have no impact on the destination page's SE rankings.

The heated "Are paid links evil or not and may search engines penalize sold links or not" debate is pretty much useless. The engines can enforce any rule they want, because it's their search index. I don't think penalizing pages carrying paid links is the right thing to do, but since the link condom policy is out, I have to recommend the usage of the notional monster1 rel="nofollow". Sure, there are still ways to hide paid links from the search engines, but is it really worth it to take the risks for the sole purpose of selling PageRank? Getting penalized for uncastrated paid links means that internal links become powerless. Losing the ability to pass reputation and relevancy in internal (navigational) links cannot outweigh the slightly higher revenues from sold links that may or may not pass PageRank etc.

When it comes to link trades handled by a broker, the risks of uncastrated linkage is way higher than with other link purchases. Like any potential customer search engine staff can browse the broker's publisher lists and harvest the links of sites offering link spots. Also, automatically inserted links managed by a 3rd party may leave footprints in the source code.

That does not mean you should not use the services of link brokers! It means that you should tell the broker that you sell and/or purchase only links with condom. Once the deal is set up, check the source code to make sure that the condom is in place.

The services offered by text link brokers, or better traffic brokers, are extremely valuable, because they find link partners for you and review all involved sites to make sure that your links won't appear on unrelated places, and that you don't link out to unwanted neighborhoods. Also, they monitor each and every deal and refund the fees if the other site takes your links down.

On the sales pitch of most broker's Web sites you'll find statements promising increased search engine rankings due to bought links. That's true, although obviously bought links will not increase the PageRank (or TrustRank ...) of your pages. Don't confuse page rankings with PageRank. Popularity can be measured by other techniques than PageRank. More human visitors coming via bought text links to your Web pages will increase their SE rankings naturally (here is how it works). Human visitors leave their footprints in SE databases, and trafficked pages do get a ranking boost.

Unfortunately some text link brokers don't tell how you benefit from bought links on search result pages, and some may even mention link popularity. However, since they do know how it works, their prices should have factored in the fact that bought links (usually) don't boost search engine rankings directly (by passing PageRank...). Just because a link appears on Google's backlink SERPs or Yahoo's linkdomain results that does not mean that it counts for link popularity. Traffic counts, so when you look at prices for static HTML links on related Web sites, always remember that you're buying traffic, not link popularity or PageRank2.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Top-5 Methods to Attract Search Engine SpidersNext Page

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The value nofollow of the REL attribute creates misunderstandings, because it is, hmmm, hapless.
In fact, it means passNoReputation and nothing more. That is search engines shall follow those links, and they shall index the destination page, and they shall show those links in reversed citation results.
There were micro formats better suitable to achieve the goal, for example Technorati's votelinks, but unfortunately the search geeks have chosen a value adapted from the robots exclusion standard, which is plain misleading because it has absolutely nothing to do with its functionality.


Patrick Gavin, CEO of Text Link Ads, that's the link broker advertising on this site, likes to add:
We recommend only purchasing links on websites that have a good chance of sending you targeted traffic that converts for you. If you are getting your money's worth in targeted traffic you don't have to worry about how the search engines treat the link and any benefit will be a bonus.

Author: Sebastian
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