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Issues with Link Exchanging

Many of us exchange links with other websites and that’s pretty normal in the course of our work over the internet media – it may be blogging, trading or providing SEO services and so on. According to Google you can get penalized for excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (something like, “Link to me and I’ll link to you.”).

Recently Google has actively started penalising websites for excessive link exchanging and link selling, certainly…..

Several webmasters who run large sites have reported that they are receiving automated alerts via Google Webmaster Tools saying the following:

Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links on [domain]!

We’ve detected that some or all of your pages are using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines, which are available here.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. For more information about our linking guidelines, visit this page.

We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please visit to submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.

Matt Cutts, a member of the Search Quality Group at Google has confirmed that Google is now penalising sites who are selling links. Here’s the quote from a comment he posted on Webmasterworld:

Yup, I believe that’s real. Remember at Pubcon I said we’d be ramping up our transparency when we think a site is outside our guidelines? This is one of those instances. The key part of this email is “Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank.” So one thing to look for is anything that could be considered link selling, past link selling, or that sort of thing.

We do not have any advice here….  but bloggers and webmasters, it pays to be very carefully whether it is worth exchanging links with a commercial website, even if that website is related to your websites subject matter and looks non-spammy, friendly and useful. If you have several links like this already, it is recommended assessing each and every one of them and base on the following criteria – REMOVE THEM:

  • If the website you’re linking to engages in excessive link exchanging.
  • If the website has very little original content and lots of junk content they’ve scrounged from around the web and dumped on their site.
  • If they have excessive advertising or very aggressive ads or affiliate programs.
  • If they have any other red flags like appearing on Google’s list of unsafe sites or McAfee’s list of bad websites.

The above list is simply our opinion and is a list of general heuristics that might indicate a site that could get you penalised, either because they are considered spam/dangerous by Google or because Google may bucket you as a link-exchanger site.

Remember that the best quality links, both incoming and outbound, are links that are organic and not reciprocal (not link exchanges). They are links that exist purely because someone found a resource on the web useful. While Google’s algorithm has changed over the years, they still rely heavily on the link structure of the web to find the best content. If you engage in link exchanges you are hurting their ability to find useful content. Recently you’ve probably noticed a lot more spam in Google’s search results. Google is now fighting this problem aggressively so expect to see more penalties for link manipulation and web spam.[ad#Chitika]

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