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Thanks For Your Horrible Link Request

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As part of my Intro To Search Engine Marketing session at our Search Engine Strategies conferences, I always have a segment on link building and the appropriate way to do it. Key tip? Understand the site you are making the request from. What's it about? What's the best place for a link? How can you make this easy?

Then I usually drag out one of the many generic link requests I get that violate all the rules. I just got another one of these classics:

We have recently visited your site, http://www.searchenginewatch.com, and found it to be not only professional and interesting, but very informative too. We would like to propose entering into a link exchange that will be beneficial to both your site and our clients' site.

As you're probably aware, search engines (such as Google) prefer sites that are linked from other related sites. For some time now, reciprocal linking (sites trading links to each other) has been used to improve link popularity and rankings in many of the major search engines.

I have something like this I use already in my talk. It's makes for a good laugh. What? Links are important? Wow, thanks for letting me know! I mean, I run a site all about search engines. It's a good thing you've come along. This is a great tip. I'd better let my readers know.

Please, thanks for showing me how much thought and effort you put into this request. But it gets better:

However, these same search engines are now gradually discounting the benefits of direct reciprocal links. Many search engine discussion forums have already identified the trend among the major engines to give more preference to sites that have "one-way" links. This means that any two sites directly linking to each other will no longer be improving their search engine visibility as much as sites that have "incoming-only" links from other topic-related sites.

What we are proposing is a link exchange that will benefit your site and our clients' site, without having an ineffective direct reciprocal link exchange. Our proposed link exchange creates, in effect, an "incoming-only" link for each site. This is a more desirable (and more difficult to achieve) link which will help both sites improve their search engine visibility, while at the same time it completely avoids the detested spamming dangers of "link farms" and similar ill-advised approaches.

Not quite right. Folks can (and do) debate, but my view is that links between two entire SITES are not likely to be discounted. After all, what's a site? A domain name? Well, you've got plenty of domain names shared by multiple web sites within them. Going to discount all those links? That's going to make a mess of your link analysis system. Too many innocents will be caught.

More important, you want to offer me a link on some unknown page that might not have any visitors at all? That's what I care about -- a page that has visitors I'm interested in, not one that may (or may not) have any impact on search rankings.

Thanks -- I can't be bothered with your off-topic request that shows complete ignorance of what my web site is about. I'll stick with my

Thanks -- I can't be bothered with your off-topic request that shows complete ignorance of what my web site is about. I'll stick with my Three Golden Rules Of Link Building, instead.


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