It seems I have been encountering an awful lot of doctrine at webmaster forums recently about the high value of one-way links or the low value of link exchanges. This is a myth, based on those people who engage in what the search engines view as “unnatural” linking patters. If most of your links come from reciprocation, then it stands to reason that your website does not have a lot of value, or else it should get lots of links based on the quality of its content or its usefulness.
But if your links come from a wide variety of sources and in a wide variety of formats, there is no truth to the myth that a link exchange is worth less than a one-way link. When faced with Internet marketing issues, it is often worth doing a reality check. What would you do to promote your business in the real world?
Suppose you owned a tourist attraction and you wanted to place your brochure in the lobby of a local hotel. The hotel might say:
- Great. That’s a wonderful service to my visitors.
- No problem. That will be $50 a month.
- Sure, if I can place my brochure on your counter (like a link exchange!)
- OK, if you give me a season’s pass.
Does it matter which way you get the brochure (link) into the lobby (webpage)? No. What counts is that you are where your target market can see you. And that is what counts with link-building. Find the p[laces you want to be seen by real people and by the search engines and get your site listed there in whatever way you can.
A note about paid links. Google do not like paid links. But does that mean it is wrong to buy a link if that’s what it takes to be where you want to be? No, that is just good marketing. But it does help to understand what Google is doing.
Google does not care how you do your marketing. Google does care that the public perceives it as the most useful search engine. Google is a business, just like you, and the customer is always right. To keep customers coming back, Google has a very complex and carefully balanced ranking algorithm. Who is ranked at what position is a moot point to Google, but if the overall integrity of its results is placed at risk, Google has to take action. The massive purchasing of paid links on high PageRank websites, often irrelevant to the topic of the link, has the potential of skewing Google’s results. For that reason, these are not looked on favorably.
I do not recommend as a matter of practice that you buy or lease irrelevant links to boost PageRank. I do not recommend that paid links be a major portion of your linking campaign. And I do not recommend you buy links where there are a dozen other paid links all together. But if there is a relevant link that you want and the price is money, I do recommend that you don’t feel obliged to keep your money in your pocket.
One way or link exchanges. Barter or paid. Three way or five way linking. Do whatever it takes to get the highest quality, relevant links to your website.
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