Watch Out For Scam Link Exchange Emails
Do you run a website or know someone that does?
If so, how often do you, or they, receive an email with a subject line of the kind “Business proposal for your website” or “Link Exchange Proposal” – often sent from an anonymous free email account in the middle of the night.
These emails typically ask for nothing more than for you to put a link to a website of their choosing on your website and in return they will link back to you on two, three, four, or maybe even more websites of their choosing – and as the email often says “we both win” – but watch out as this is nothing more than a dressed up SCAM.
If you choose to go ahead then well done you have probably just been “link farmed” which means you have given away your “good link” (your website address), and a big part of your reputation, in exchange for one or more “bad links”.
It is an easy trap to fall into and an email like this, sent at a certain time, may sound like a dream. You may have been thinking about ways to improve your website visitors and thought that increasing the number of back links (other sites that link back to your website) will improve your overall website ranking and gain you more visitors – however, link exchanging in this manner is really not the way to do it.
If approached the right way, through good quality unique content with referrals from related and appropriate web sites, then benefits can be gained through good quality links back but simply trying to “play the system” can lead to an increase in “bad links” and actually turn visitors away.
So what is a “bad link” ?
A bad link is an inappropriate link back to your site with the purpose of manipulating website rankings, to promote bad, or inappropriate, web sites, or with the sole aim of building link exchanges. As such they care little for the actual content on your site – even though most emails of this nature will say something along the lines of “I must say your content is very good…”.
To really understand what is going on and how it can detrimentally affect your future website rankings you need to think about how the links are used. Many web site directories and search engines assess a website by the number of referrals it gets (back links) – much like a word of mouth recommendation but they rely heavily on trust and your reputation – to get the assessment right.
For example, would you recommend a particular restaurant to your close friends just because the restaurant asked you? Or would you recommend a restaurant because you believe it to be of high quality, appropriate to your friends requirements, and because you have a good experience there? If your friend goes to the restaurant and has a good experience too they will recommend it, and you, to their friends as being reliable and thus the word of mouth reputation, for both you and the restaurant, will improve.
If your friend turns up at the place you recommended and it is of very low quality, highly questionable, or perhaps not even a restaurant at all – they are likely not to ask for your opinion again and your reputation will be damaged (though it may take some time for you to realise it).
Google, for example, are very concerned about sites that simply “trade links” and will, eventually, penalize you for it (see Google Webmaster Central: Link schemes) – however the down side for you is that the “partner” site has probably gained a “good site link” (yours!), for a short time, and will farm its ranking potential for as long as it can before it moves onto the next site – you will be left to pick up the pieces.
So, the next time you receive an unsolicited email asking you for a link exchange or link swap – think about the impact it may have on your future reputation – the delete and “mark as spam” buttons are often only a click away.