Posts Tagged ‘PageRank’

Proper Link Exchange Strategy


In the beginning, there was light, and Yahoo shined above all the others. To get web traffic and to the top of Yahoo’s search results it was important to be admitted into its directory. A link from their directory is still very powerful, but mostly they charge for that service now.

Along came google with a new formula, whereby a website was judged by the number of links pointing to it. Each link pointing to a website is like a positive vote. Why else would someone link to another page from theirs if the page they were linking to did not serve some useful purpose?

This concept has been labeled PageRank, whereby the higher a page’s ranking evaluation (0 is the lowest and 10 is the highest), the higher it will show up in google’s search results. This is because the webpage’s pagerank is taken into consideration in google’s algorithm (a long, mathematical formula used to compute the ranking of pages according to the keywords searched) when it is deciding which order to rank pages in.

This formula proved very effective and soon people realized that they were getting better search results with google than they were with Yahoo, so they started switching on mass.

Of course, webmasters caught on quickly too and it became an industry to build “backlinks” – which are links from other websites to yours (if you are the webmaster). All sorts of services sprouted which were designed to accumulate these backlinks for a webmaster. Perhaps it was a submission to 500 directories for a fee of $50. Many such directories sprouted up and included automated systems which made submission to them easier. A domain, such as, can be purchased for as little as $12 a year. This means someone can set up an automated directory, then use the programming scripts to do the same but on many other domains. The services which automatically submit links for their clients do so on many of these automated directories, while the directories themselves try to earn an income by including google ads on each of their pages. A single page might mention only a link to your site, with the title and description text, while you have the option to pay extra to push your link to a more prominent, visible and higher traffic location in their directory.

All these sorts of gimmicks and tricks were designed to take advantage of the google pagerank system in order to elevate a page’s ranking in google’s search results. Afterall, how often do you look past the first page of 10 results when surfing the internet? If you are not on the first page, or even in the top few links, much fewer people will actually stumble on your site.

But along comes Panda and Penguin. No, these are not two animals wishing to build links to their little cove in nature, but an adjustment in google’s algorithm to battle against these tactics. After all, google became much more successful than yahoo precisely because its formula for search results was more accurate and successful. But if everyone jumps on the bandwagon and starts to frantically build backlinks, it distorts the original concept in favor of those who practice this strategy. Links are no longer an honest vote and reflection of a website’s usefulness, but can be considered as spam intended to distort google’s search results in someone’s favor.

These tactics would negatively affect google’s business strategy, which is based on producing quality and accurate results, so in the spring of 2012 it rolled up its sleeves and unrolled a few tweaks to its algorithm designed to negatively affect such spammers, while giving a boost to those websites following more honest practices and which seem to be of legitimate quality.

Of course this spelt absolute disaster for many who had intensively practiced such deceitful tactics, and many are still struggling to recover and save face in the eyes of google.

Link Exchanges

One strategy how to build backlinks is by exchanging links with other websites. You link to their page from yours, they link back to you, and you both benefit equally. Ideally, you want to exchange links with websites which are thematically related to yours. For example, if your website is about dog food, you will probably not want to exchange links with your direct competition, but perhaps with a dog food store in another city, or with a dog pound. Definitely not with a site about Viagra. The words on their website should be similar to the ones on yours.

But google caught onto this as well, so if you have a partner.html page from which you link to the homepages of your link exchange partners, while your partners have the same and from which they link to your home page, it looks a little obvious that this is manipulated and google can easily cancel out any positive affect from such an exchange, even though such a strategy worked in the past. Such a link is called a “two-way exchange”, and is easily discernable. You may still get some positive affect from it, but with the new rules probably not very much.

Ideally you want to work with three-way exchanges, such as if you link from a page in your domain to the homepage or deep page of your partner’s domain, while they would link from a page in that domain to a page of another domain you own. Or perhaps they would link to one of your partners, and they in turn link back to you. Such linking would not be so obvious and it would be difficult for google to consider as spam or discredit it.

Also, it is not so effective to link from a “partner” page, full of single links to all sorts of other pages, because google can easily understand the purpose of such a page and also discredit its value. Or simple links at the bottom of your pages pointing out in different directions.

No, the most powerful link would be directly from within the text of a page. Such as a long article about how to take care of a dog, with a link to your store when “dog food” is mentioned. Or perhaps you could create a sponsor box, with some brief text about dog food and link out from that. That way your readers will see it is an advertisement, not get offended if they click on “dog food” from within your text (because they might expect to read more and useful information about dog food – not just get pushed to some product sell), while google could perceive that as some other text within your article (although it might make some assumptions and partially discredit it).

There is a lot of talk on the internet now about backlinking and many have different opinions. I believe you simply need to be more careful and less obvious, but use your mathematical intuition to understand the limitations of any algorithm which google might develop to attack such practices. Best is to be subtle, but to whatever degree google decides to discredit a link, chances are it will not be discredited completely and it will always pay to focus on developing quality backlinks, than to do nothing.

However, one major problem in developing link exchanges, which can be a rather time consuming process, is if your link partner is dishonest and removes their link to you after some time, assuming you will not bother to constantly check that they are still linking back to you. If they remove their link to you, it means you are linking only to them, which is considered a one-way link – the most prized of all links.

Or another nasty trick is if they add a “nofollow” relation to their link to you. This is a command to the search engines not to follow the link to your website, meaning it is almost the same as removing the link. Except that you will still see it and may think your link partner remains honest.

There are several nasty tricks webmasters can use to bend the link exchange game in their favour, such as adding a NOINDEX or NOFOLLOW meta in their headers, which would essentially tell any search engine to ignore all the contents on that page.

Additionally, try not to arrange link exchanges when either of you are sending emails from a gmail account. Google owns gmail and, based on its privacy policy in the past, you can rest assured it might use your correspondence to hone in on link exchange agreements. Especially when you write in an email: “I’ll link from such and such a page, you link to this one of mine,” and within a week the respective links appear on your webpages.

Because it takes time to email with potential link exchange partners, find and approach potential partners, log your agreements somewhere and then add the link to one of your pages, it is a good idea to use a link exchange tool which would automate much of this work and immediately inform you as soon as a link partner tries something dishonest.

Free Online Reciprocal Link Exchange Checker
Search Engine Optimization Service

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WordPress Plugin to Redirect Old Pages to New Ones and Why it is a Good Idea to Have Categories in your Permalinks


For this I used the plugin Redirection by John Godley. If you place all your posts into carefully selected categories which contain important keywords for that subject, you can set the Permalinks (through Settings) to include the category name in the web url, ie:


in the Custom Structure on the Permalinks page. This is primarily beneficial if you have many posts covering a broad range of topics and want to focus the topics according to certain keywords. The redirection itself is important so that you can instruct google of where the new pages are. In about a month google will percolate the changes and transfer all page rank and rankings to the new page, otherwise this very important SEO stuff will get lost, to a large degree.

The procedure how to redirect is as follows.

Install the plugin XML-Sitemap. This is also very important for SEO.

Once you create your sitemap, after installing the plugin, download sitemap.xlm from your website and open it in Word.

In XML Data Views choose sitemap.xsl. This should convert the format into a table, with the links on the far left column. Select that column, copy it, erase the entire contents of the file and paste it back in Text Only mode. Save the file as txt format, open it in Notepad and copy its contents into the far left column of a blank Excel file. It should be one per line.

Now update your Permalinks to include the Category name (make sure all your posts are first assigned to the correct category).

Download the sitemap.xlm again and this time it should have the new addresses. Do the same for the second column. Make sure the post addresses are lined up correctly (old site left column, new site second column but with category name in the url address).

If this process will be taking too long and you are afraid your dead and unredirected (old) pages will cause you harm in the eyes of google, you can simply remove


from the Permalinks structure and put it back once everything is set up properly.

Now save your Excel file as (Windows) comma delimited CSV format. Before you upload this big file, I would suggest you open the csv file and erase all but one line, so that you can test it first (save it with another name so as not to lose all your data). It should look like (when viewing in Word or Notepad)

old_page, new_page

Now go to Tools > Redirection > Options and upload your test file in the Import section.

Once done, copy the old web address, paste it into your browser and test if it in fact does redirect. If it has worked successfully then you can upload the whole list/file.


More SEO Tips concerning this matter (instructions to customer)

took me a few hours to figure out how to do it but successfully redirected all the old pages. You can test it by removing the category name from the url/page address and see that it redirects automatically to the new one.

Attached you will find your new list of files. I noticed that you have a lot of files similar to:


This is not good because google considers it spammy and downgrades them. If you are looking for ideas how to title a blog you can look at the Tags section in the editing window. It is a good idea to add all the tags, because that is the new thing with google and it might not be paying attention to the Meta Keywords anymore. Or if you want a more detailed report of the most common words used on one of your pages, you can use that SEO Quake plugin I suggested to you a while ago.

All pages should have a unique title, preferably based on the most frequent words on the page, and the Description and Keywords should use the same words, but the Description should be a bit different, so make sure to add a few more words. This combination will have the greatest affect for raising your rankings of that page in those keywords.

If you add any pictures, it is a good idea to use the Title in the picture’s Alternate Text (with each successive picture using slightly different alternate text – I usually just add a number, or add the name of the picture file), which you will find in the window once you select which picture to upload from your computer. Don’t forget that you can embed pictures into the text, such as on the right or left side. Right now you have it in the center and the text does not wrap around it.

If you decide to change the titles of those repetitive pages first wait for my additional instructions.


Now we can proceed to an import step: go to Setting > SEO Smart Links. It’s pretty straight forward, and this system creates automatic links between your pages just like wikipedia does. Wiki is often the first page on the net and this is one of the main reasons for that. Whenever I play around with WP I have the admin account open in one tab, and the online version in another tab. In Chrome you can ctrl pageup or pagedown to bounce between tabs. In other browsers it might be ctrl tab or ctrl shift tab. You update a page, jump to its online version and press F5 (refresh) to see the changes.

To create a list at the bottom of this plugin, first start with one page and test it. For example, every time the word Czech Republic is mentioned in an article, the plugin can be set to create a link to your page/post specialising on that. Once you see how it works you can create your list. You can also do the same for external/third party pages. Google likes it when your pages occasionally do that, as opposed to just interlinking with your own pages, which it would consider a deadend site. I often link out to wiki pages because they are stable and well respected by google. If making such manual linkouts make sure to use one of the keywords you are focusing on with that page.


And when linking to some of your pages from third party sites, which is very important (it’s like a vote for your site and gives it more credit in google’s eyes), you can use the attached file as a guide. For myself I always wrote the Title of the page in the column to the left so that I know what keywords I’d like to link from.

I know that you think the situation has now changed and that it is bad to link back to your site, but I am sure the world of SEO experts have not been fired and they are still busy building backlinks, just being more careful about it. This is a very important part of ranking up in google, but it’s obviously your choice. What I do is if I read some website where I notice I can post a comment on the bottom, and I see that other comments were allowed to link out to their website (or from their name – try to add “Geneology expert” or other important keyword to your name if so), I try to think of a good comment, after understanding the article, so that the moderator will be likely to accept it.

If using the plugin to automatically link to your pages, try to link to only important or interesting articles, to give your reader a good experience and keep them around.


Okay, should take about a month for your new pages to get indexed properly in google, after which I can uninstall the plugin.

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