Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Link Swapping Is A Scam

with 5 comments

my reflection in my netbook with autumn foliage behind me

Along with learning about blogging and self publishing, I’ve been learning how the Internet works. In order to do the things I want to do I’ve had to learn how to employ the technology, but I am by no means a “natural.”

One of the most important lessons is to share what you learn with others. I have learned so much from what others have shared with me, that it’s only natural to return the favour. Because I have several web sites and blogs, I’ll often get the same spam for different sites. The one that’s prompted this blog post is the following verbatim reprint of a particular spam email I get periodically for my various blogs and websites. If you get one like this, my advice is:

Don’t do it.

Although I’ve redacted the names to protect the guilty, the rest of the email is reproduced word for word here:

Hello,

Let’s do a 3-way link swap with your website http://russwurm.org. I’ll give you two links in exchange for one from
you.

3-way linking is a very effective link building strategy. Since you’re getting the links from third party websites, they appear totally natural to search engines. Such inbound links help your website rank higher in Google and other
search engines.

Visit [redacted] to submit your website.

Thanks,
[redacted]

Founder & CEO, {redacted]

This is a scam.

I’ve blogged about this before, but I’m still getting this email, so I’ll try again.

The tip off is that these links “appear totally natural.” It appears to be a way to scam the search engines, but what it really wants to do is scam us out of our good reputations.

When you start creating web content like blogs or websites, you often hear about rumoured — almost magic — ways of getting your website noticed by search engines. Search terms. Meta data. Tags. SEO. Categories. Search Engine Optimization. Everyone wants our web page to be on the top of the Google search, because that will brings readers.

my cat sits on the deck behind my external workstation

Search engines have a variety of ways to decide how to rank web pages, and one of them is based on how many incoming links you have. As long as there has been an Internet there have been ways people have tried to scam the search engines. The reason for this is simple.

If someone types “costumes” in the search bar, if your costume blog is at the top of the list the search engine returns you will get a lot more visitors. If it first appears on page fifty, well, not so much.

The thing to remember is that any search engine is trying to provide every web searcher with the correct website or information they want, as quickly as possible. So search engines are not happy with fake results. I’ve heard tell that Google refuses to index bad actors who do things like salting their web pages with invisible words in hopes of gaming the search engine. If you’re a fly-by-night operator, maybe how you get page hits doesn’t matter. If you are looking for a quick buck and are willing to change domain names more often than underwear, maybe that’s okay. If Google black lists you, you just get a new five dollar domain name from godaddy.

No thanks

When I was starting out, the advice I got was to build solid content. You will get readership if the content is there. If people want to read what you write, they will find you. But it takes time, and a lot of effort.

Murray works at distracting me.

That’s what I have tried to do, because I’m here for the long haul. Web credibility is important. If anything, your online reputation might even be more important than your real life reputation on the Internet. What you put online is the basis of what you are judged for online.

If I were to trade links with this organization, I might get traffic, but is it traffic that will do me any good? Would it be people who actually want to find my blog?

I have worked hard on all of my blogs. So I don’t want people being directed here in error — long enough to discover that they have been deliberately sent to the wrong place. If you trick people to come to your site, even if they might find your content interesting, or even of use, they will be annoyed at having been misdirected, which very likely will not result in a regular readers. That’s important to me; I want people to actually read what I write.

After all, would I really want to direct my readers to web pages that aren’t good enough to attract readers legitimately?

I don’t think so.

Worse, do I want to squander my hard earned web credibility on some scammer?  No way.

Like most good con jobs, this seems to cost nothing, but in fact it comes very dear.  Like many things, quite often anything that sounds too good to be true, is.

The essential backyard writer workstation (cats are optional)
LEFT: Fair Trade Coffee CENTER: Netbook (red tape obscures camera lens). RIGHT: mouse on futuristic mousepad

5 Responses

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  1. […] Building Strategies for Smaller Brands in a Competitive SpaceBroken Link BuildingLink Swapping Is A Scam #header {text-align:left } #description { clear:left;float: left; } .recentcomments […]

  2. Wow…. tagging an article with SEO generated twice as many spam comments are page views (tell you something, doesn’t it. The problem with that, of course, is that your brain goes numb while deleting spam comments and I think I nuked a legitimate track back among the pigeons. If so, sorry to whoever you are.

    Laurel L. Russwurm

    October 26, 2011 at 7:20 am

  3. Totally agree with the link exchange problems. I get the same with my sites, crappy content farms etc asking to trade links. Google has already begun to move away from link counts and trust quality content (and unique!) instead. Interesting to see what all the scammers, website scrapers and other Internet scum do when they can no longer ‘game’ the system. I actually have sites that do well with very few links, so I can already notice the improvements. In fact, I have linked to this article merely because it related to something I posted, THIS is natural linking, and it seems to count more than 1000 crappy exchanged links. Great post!

    http://onlinebusinessthought.com

    October 26, 2011 at 7:17 am

  4. […] Link Swapping Is A Scam (laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com) […]

  5. Thanks Laurel…I needed to hear this as I often feel as I struggle alone with how to build a credible blog and not sell myself out to unworthy advertisers and such…being a bit older (55) and venturing out in cyberspace only with my determination and a bit of tech help from hubby, its been a challenge…i couldn’t agree with you more on 1) being here for the long haul and 2) web credibility is important…

    …and instead of cat distraction I have dogs 🙂

    Little L

    October 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm


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