A link exchange strategy can work under certain circumstances. The
power of including a keyphrase in such links appears to be over.
A month ago, having a single link phrase in every link to your site,
and using that same phrase in on-the-page optimizing, was an extremely
powerful strategy, albeit in a grey-area of Google's guideines.
With the Florida update there have been a huge number of sites
targeting commercial keywords drop out of the search results. Debate
is continuing, and an agreement on what has caused this is far from
being reached. I have been in discussions involving many experts in
the field, and this is my own take on what has happened:
1) Google uses the words in and around links to a page as a ranking factor
2) Either due to the introduction of stemming in the search results,
ot just a general desire to make results more relevant, Google
introduced a filter to dampen the affect link text has on sites that
are using link text to influence search results
3) Link text works great for non-commercial sites, so the filter only
affects commercial keywords (possibly those that are bidded on in
4) The filter dampens the affect of all links pointing to a page,
internal or external
5) The filter only kicks in when it sees the same keyphrase repeated
over and over again
6) The filter might then also look for on-the-page optimizing for that
phrase, and possibly determine whether a page is being overly
7) Sites affected by the filter almost always drop a few hundred
spots. I think that this is because link text was the only factor that
had them so high in the first place, but it could also be a set
The affects of the filter can be seen by making a search at Scroogle,
a site designed for that purpose:
Some SEOs have reported fixing the problem by reducing the amount of
on-the-page optimizing. Others are busy changing incoming links to
include a variety of keyphrases, instead of just one.
Reciprocal links - one website
Google is going to be aware of when A links to B, and B links to A. If
the majority of links to your site are reciprocated, then Google has
every reason to suspect that the main purpose of such links is to
influence search results. To avoid any form of penalty, I would make
1) The majority of links pointing to your site are not reciprocated
2) A good portion of sites that you link to do not link back
3) Reciprocal links use a variety of words and phrases in the anchor
text and any description that follows. Try and provide a different
link text for every link swap you make. And try and get the other site
to do likewise
4) Try to place links in natural places, amongst relevant content. Try
not to have a "links page"
5) Don't mention the words "reciprocal" or "link swap" or anything
like them on your site
The percentages are anyone's guess. Only the Google engineers know
what they are. Trust your instinct on what looks right. Take a look at
all the links to your site, and the words they use, and ask yourself
if the list looks organic or are some elements orchestrated.
Reciprocal links - multiple websites
If you have more than one site focusing on the same or similar topics,
then you can increase the number of reciprocated links, by scattering
Last week someone offered me a link swap. My site in question is PR7,
and theirs is PR4. A link swap wouldn't make much difference to my
site's PR, but it could help my other site that has PR5. More
importantly, Google is only seeing A linking to B, and B linking to C.
Although our deal is for reciprocal links, it is far less obvious.
If I was to do this a lot, having indirect reciprocal linking, I would
make sure that each of my sites:
1) Used a different server
2) Had different WHOIS data
3) Didn't share any grahics or content with the other sites
4) Had a different internal structure to the other sites
It sounds a little paranoid, but many Google observers believe that
Google can and does look at such factors. And if they don't now, they
might next year, or in five years time. If you are in it for the long
haul, consider getting it right from the start.
I'd also keep well clear of linking each of my sites to each my other
sites. A few links here and there are okay, but avoid having links on
every page "to our other great sites".
If you only have one website at present, consider starting more in the
future. Hosting and paying domain name fees for a handful of extra
sites can be quite cheap relative to other forms of advertising.
Design can cost a lot, but that's often a pride thing. Get the
visitors first, make it look good second.
The pattern that worked best for me is:
A) Have a flagship site. Make it as big and wonderful as you can
B) When the flagship site is profitable, and possibly taking up less
of your time, create a new site. It needs to be on a similar topic,
contain some unique information, and be good enough to be listed in
C) Repeat. There is a limit to how many sites you can run. Try to
limit the number that require continual work
One site tried to make a commercial enterpise out of selling high PR
links, and had a major falling out with Google:
If the deal is made behind closed doors, and the link is one way, and
on topic, and using a unique piece of link text... Google will never
Yahoo (these days) is in the business of selling links. Yahoo has a
huge PageRank. Google say that getting a link at Yahoo is a good move.
Yahoo charges commercial sites $299 a year, and they tend accept any
halfway-decent site. No-one has suffered from buying a link from
I think it is a great idea to pursue, the only problem is determining
the price. In terms of factoring the price, off the top of my head:
If a link from a PR4 site is worth $1, then
PR5 - $20
PR6 - $150
PR7 - $750
PR8 - $2000
(other people will have wildly different opinions...)
Try and make the arrangement one of monthly payments. That prompts you
to check that the link is still there each month, and covers you if
their site suddenly dies.
It is important to realise that the Google's ability to provide
relevant search results depends on organic linking - websites linking
to web pages because they like the content, and believe it to be
useful to their visitors. Any attempt to use a link strategy that
undermines this process is increasing the chances of Google one day
penalizing your site for doing so.