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Cult of Links Needs Linking Exorcist

Have you ever known someone who has blind faith to a religous sect or self-improvement group and has been taken in by a charismatic leader? The devotion to the cause is seemingly blind and support in donated time or financial contribution exceeds all reason? That is where we are with the cult of linking. You stand by marveling at how an intelligent person could be so entirely absorbed in their linking fanaticism that they lose sight of reality?

I just ran an article in this space a couple of days ago called “Link Swapping Killing Web Sites” and commented that I was glad to see some sanity returning to webmasters as a preface to the Michael Cheney piece.

Today I’ve been shown a bit more lunacy from three different angles. First, I have a client seeking quality links. He has hundreds of outbound links from his network of sites and uses his own linking script with an admin control panel where he approves or deletes links submitted. I talked him into scrapping that and took down links to the “swap” page from major pages of his sites. To replace those “Swap” links, I proposed that we use one of the many “text link brokers” popping up across the web.

We can simply buy the links from relevant sources from reputable brokers – or so I thought. I contacted two of those brokers asking for some type of substantiation for the value of the links they were selling. I simply asked them if they had any case studies showing search engine rank increases attributable to major text link purchases.

I’m still reeling from one response. He said, “We don’t keep track of that sort of thing. Most people have been happy with our partners links.” I had to pick my jaw up from the floor! He is asking the better part of $1000 for “run of site” links from a questionable “network” of sites that, although on topic, were not a good fit for my clients links.

When I pointed out to him that they were all on very close IP addresses and clearly resided on the same virtual server, he seemed not to understand what I was talking about when I asked if they couldn’t offer more variation in IP address range to avoid a link farm penalty from the search engines.

I shook my head in astonishment and moved on with my day and then I got a note from a colleague who asked me if I were interested in his “Linking Engine” for my client sites. He pointed out that it cost the better part of $1000 to install this PHP script on a client site and customize it. He sent me the promotional sales letter they use to convince prospects of the value of the script. He told me he sells it … “to all of our SEO clients”.

When I asked if he had any proof that this “Linking Engine” benefits clients after installation by increasing their rank or traffic, he seemed shocked and said, “I don’t have time for that, everyone knows linking works to increase rank and traffic.” Now I like this friend very much on a personal level, but he’s lost all track of reality when he’s too busy to prove the value proposition of this $1000 software to potential customers, then expects them to take it on faith that it’s worth the money.

The final straw came when I was emailed another one of the thousands of the usual daily reciprocal link requests. They wanted a link from a particular highly ranked page of my site and since their site is new, he’d give me TWO links to my one. WOW! Two worthless links for one valuable one, what a deal!

I recently heard Michael Palka speak at the WebmasterWorld Search conference, he’s Director of Product Management for AskJeeves, and during his presentation, he said plainly that webmasters should ALWAYS post a linking policy on their site. I’m inclined to agree with that and I’ve posted a notice saying that I ONLY link to those contributing content to my site. It has been my policy for nearly a year anyway, that will just make it official. I link only to those who contribute content to my site via their resource box giving them credit for the articles.

That said, now I have only to add that to over 1000 pages over several templates. I doubt it will reduce the link requests because many are generated by software or are requsted by link campaign managers from SEO’s who don’t read the site, they simply run software looking for highly ranked pages for client keyword phrases and fire out a couple hundred link requests to site owners who turned up on top of their list.

I’m coming very near to turning into a linking exorcist in a campaign to rid these raving linking lunatics of their maniacal linking demons!