When to Avoid Link Trading Requests
There are many things to watch out for when someone requests that you trade links with their website, because it's not who links to you that can cause you a problem but who YOU link to.
Very Bad Spelling or Grammatical Errors
Poor spelling and grammar is usually indicative of someone from a foreign country and being as that is where a lot of SEO and linking scams come from, be very choosy who you link to.
Linking to Bad Neighborhoods
You can run their site through a bad neighborhood link checker to see if their site it linking out to sites that Google does not like (gambling and other poor quality sites). If you link to a site that is linking to bad neighborhoods it can reflect back on your site.
If their site is selling dog food and you own a clothing store people aren't looking for clothing on their site and the search engines may also consider that a non-relevant link.
Trading Links From Your Home Page
Be very careful about trading links with a site that insists you put the link to their site on your home page unless they do the same for you and their site is the same quality, or better, than yours. However, before you agree to that check their page with a No-follow checker (available as a Firefox extension) to make sure they haven't prevented the links from being indexed by search engines.
Linking Within the Content of Web PagesLinking from a link page doesn't give as much value as linking within the content of a popular page so request that whenever you can.
Often they agree to put a link to your site "on one of their pages" but they don't say where. Avoid any link trade where the intent is not clearly stated because if the only place that link appears ends up in their footer, search engines may ignore it. Also if it is linked from a page two levels deep it won't rank as well as if it was in the top menu.
Multiple Outgoing Links to other Sites in their Footer
Some site owners put a lot of links to other sites in the footer of their pages. Here are three reasons they may do that:
- They own the other sites (likely a self-promoting network*)
- They are trading links (could be harmless but could also be triangular linking**)
- They are getting paid to place the links there by owners of other sites, i.e., selling links.
*Google is a domain registrar so it can easily spot networks owned by the same person by comparing their name, address, phone, email or other information. The network scheme is likely to be the next casualty in Google's algorithim.
**Google can spot triangular linking because it follows the links and anytime it sees a pattern of the same links on different sites they may all be demoted.
All three of the above, and especially the last one, can cause the outgoing links to be devalued because Google doesn't like people manipulating their engine and if you trade links with them it can reflect back on your site.
The best sites to trade links with will have relevant content, they will place your link within the content of one of their pages and it will be a do-follow link.
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