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Don’t Be the Missing Link, but Evaluate before You Link Back

08/04/2010
Beach Accommodations on Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai Hawaii Beach Accommodations

When link building, I tell my clients that the best links will come from those they ask. If you’re running a beach accommodation in Hawaii, for example, you’ll want to contact everyone in the area who depends on your guests for their income (moped rentals, car rentals, boat charters, bicycle rentals, surfing schools, etc) and ask for links. If your rental is on Kauai, you’ll want to exchange links with other rentals like yours on other islands (like minded, but not in direct competition). Basically you’ll want to swap links with anyone in Hawaii who isn’t going to compete with you.

Once you’ve done all that, you’ll sit back and watch the business roll in. Ha! You wish. If you have a web site, you’re going to want to constantly make it better, if only because if you don’t, you’re going to slip in the rankings and lose all that great business to your competition. But since you’ve worked so hard and gotten up there in the rankings, you’ve probably noticed that you’re getting email from all kinds of questionable sites wanting to exchange links with you.

Since your time is at least as valuable as a link from your site, you should really be wary of these offers. Most of them are junk. You’ll see right away that many of them are form letter, poorly worded, awkwardly formatted, and from a site that is not a particularly good match. But don’t delete right away! Sometimes there is a person on the other end of those bad emails who might be able to help. But how can you tell quickly without wasting a lot of time on a bad lead?

First, you have to have a Google Page Rank checker in your tool bar. They’re easy to find: just search for google page rank tool bar for your browser. I just got one for Google Chrome, finally. While Google is phasing out PageRank as an important factor in ranking, it’s still a good idea to use it when deciding with whom to exchange links.  If the link offer is coming from a site where the home page Page Rank is less than that of your site’s rank, forget it.

Even if they are the same rank, a lot of times the site that wants to link to you will bury your link in a part of their site that has no rank, and will likely never get any. Forget that. Remember, links aren’t just for Google. People follow them. But if the site offering to link to you (or, often in these cases, already has–in order to guilt you into linking to them) is burying your link, it’s unlikely Google will ever find it worthwhile, much less a real person who might click on it.

This is especially true if they want to bury your link while you have a highly ranked link page that gets a lot of traffic and people actually use it–meaning they click on the links and explore the sites to which you’ve linked. Link pages started off as resources whereby people discovered other cool stuff on the web at the recommendation of people. If your link page is such a resource, like this Kauai resource listing, then you’ll want to protect it by making editorial decisions about what links work as a resource for your readers, and what links don’t.

Finally, even if they are burying your link, if the site is a directory of listings of your competition, you might want to give them a link back. Just try to do it from a page with similar or less page rank than the page from which they are linking to you. You don’t want to give more than you’re getting. And try to link to the page that has your link on it (that way your link to them might help their link to you with a little boost of link juice.

Now get back to weeding through that inbox full of link offers. You never know–there might be  a good one or two  in there.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/16/2011 8:33 am

    Wonderful writeup!!
    @Tony, Thats true what you’ve said but PR is indeed important in the overall scheme of things. For newbies, i guess its hard work and pateince that they have to rely upon more than anything else.

  2. 03/17/2011 11:18 am

    Great site! I’d like to feature your site on my Blog profiles page. Let me know if you’d be interested.

    Jared Winn
    JCWinn Local-Internet Directory
    http://jcwinn.com

  3. 10/14/2010 8:24 am

    This page inspired me to work more intelligently. thanks,

  4. 08/04/2010 11:03 am

    I agree with you totally. But what about the newbie who is honest, sincere and just want to get their campaign off the ground. Should’nt we take a good look at their site, see the structure of their content and determing weather or not they stand a chance of ranking high on Lord Google?

    • 08/04/2010 11:17 am

      Absolutely. PageRank is not the end all/ be all on the value of a link. Future PageRank should be considered. To see where a site might be in the future, as you suggest, we should look at content structure and other factors when determining if the link might be worth something someday. I often reward real link pages that are integrated well in the navigation structure by linking directly to the link page from somewhere else, thereby giving it a little boost toward giving me a little boost.

      There is a site that does future PageRank estimates which I use sometimes: PageRank Prediction.

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