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Stay away from automated link exchange services. Don't trust sneaky sales pitches trying to talk you into risky link swaps. Systematic link patterns get your Web site penalized or even banned by search engines.

Years ago, Google started a great search engine ranking Web pages by PageRank within topical matches. Altavista was a big player, and a part of its algo ranked by weighted link popularity. Even Inktomi and a few others begun to experiment with linkpop as a ranking criteria.

Search engine optimizers and webmasters launched huge link farms, where thousands of Web sites were linking to each other. From a site owner's point of view, those link farms, aka spider traps, 'helped search engine crawlers to index and rank the participating sites'. For a limited period of time, Web sites participating in spider traps were crawled more frequently, and -caused by their linkpop- gained better placements on the search engine result pages.

From a search engine's point of view, artificial linking for the sole purpose of manipulating search engine rankings is a bad thing. Their clever engineers developed link spam filters, and the engines begun to automatically penalize or even ban sites involved in systematic link patterns.

Back in 2000, removing the artificial links and asking for reinclusion worked for most of the banned sites. Nowadays it's not that easy to get a banned domain back in the index. Savvy webmasters and serious search engine optimizers found better and honest ways to increase search engine traffic.

However, there are still a lot of link farms out there. Newbies following bad advice still join them, and get caught eventually. Spider trap operators are smart enough to save their ass, but thousands of participating newbies lose the majority of their traffic when a spider trap gets rolled up by the engines. Some spider traps even charge their participants. Google has just begun to work on a link spam network where the operator earns 46,000$ monthly for putting his customers at risk.

Stay away from any automated link exchange 'service', it's not worth it. Don't trust sneaky sales pitches trying to talk you into risky link swaps. Approaches to automatically support honest link trades are limited to administrative tasks. Hire an experienced SEO Consultant for serious help on your link development.

Monday, July 25, 2005

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