Archive for October, 2011

7 Reasons Why Manual Link Exchanges Suck

This post may cause some controversy as some people still indulge in manual link exchanges. However, much evidence suggests that they are inconvenient, time consuming and ineffective. Below are 7 reasons you should think twice before using manual link exchanges.

1. Extremely Time Consuming
There is no doubt finding quality links from websites can be hard. Many won’t respond and more often than not you’ll find yourself feeling frustrated. In business time is money and you need to make sure you’re making as good as a return as possible. If the return is likely to be low then you could be finding time to do activities which could bring in more money instead.

2. Links Can Be Lost Easily
Unfortunately web pages aren’t on the internet forever. Web owners could sell their domains, have it expire or have an error with their content management system. In some cases they may not even be aware of it! This is an issue for you as you’ve spent time to contact the owner and also put a link out from your website. If you’re putting a link out to an expired website, the search engines might even go as far to think your site is of low quality.

3. Most Are Low PageRank
Just because a websites homepage has a PageRank of 4 doesn’t mean that all of its pages are going to carry that rank as well. Pages are assessed individually on a website and only carry the link weight of the specific page when a link is passed. This means most pages you get a link from will be PageRank 0 meaning little to no influence on your SEO rankings. Automatic Backlinks only gives you PageRank 1 backlinks and above, and these are all from context relevant pages.

4. Site Could Take Part in Spammy Practices
Looking at a websites exterior won’t be enough justification as to whether they are legitimate. Some websites take part in some real dodgy activity that you must keep an eye out for. If you’re getting a link from a bad neighbourhood or even linking out to one, it could do you more harm than good.

5. Website Owner Could Be Untrustworthy
As well as taking part in spammy link practices, website owners could be untrustworthy and not give you what you expected. This will be most common with competitors who will use sneaky tactics such as cloaking or blocking the page. Examples of this would be using the no follow tag in the html or blocking the page to search engines using the robots.txt file.

6. The Need To Manage All Links
When you get to a certain stage of manual link exchanges you’re going to have a large list that you both get links from and link to. The downside of this is that you’re going to have to manage all of it, you’ll also have to ensure that the webmasters that you have on your list are still playing fair. If you own a large array of websites and use this SEO practice, it could turn out to be a real headache.

7. Google Isn’t A Fan Of Reciprocal Links!
It’s been known for a while now that Google has caught onto reciprocal links, Matt Cutts talks about SEO mistakes on his blog. Making sure your links are coming from context relevant websites that have trust is still as important as ever.

Changing from PageRank to mozRank

In the next few weeks will switch from using Google PageRank as a metric for determining the quality and price of a backlink to using mozRank by SEOmoz.

Why we are abandoning PageRank
For a long time it has been common knowledge that PageRank is not a very good or trustworthy metric for quality even Google agrees.

Additionally PageRank has never been made publicly available by Google except for in browser toolbars, so for us to get the PageRank of a particular page we have to pretend to be a browser toolbar and send a fake request to google. As Automatic Backlinks has grown, we have been sending tens of thousands of these requests on a daily basis and Google quickly detected that we were no ordinary browser toolbar and blocked our servers, even as we added more and more. Lately it appears that Google have started replying to these requests with a 0 instead of the usual ‘#blocked’ message meaning that we incorrectly marked pages as having a PageRank 0.

A final reason for the change is that we do not like to send requests to google with the URL of every page in our system. It gives them an opportunity to detect our network and this is a risk we feel we can no longer take.

Why we have chosen mozRank
mozRank is a metric quite similar to PageRank as it is a score from 0 to 10 on a logarithmic scale. In fact our preliminary tests show that mozRank and PageRank seem to follow each other quite closely. The number is calculated for using the metrics of 9,200,000,000 links on 400,000,000 pages.

Additionally, the clever people over at SEOmoz have made an API available that makes getting the mozRank of a page a very simple task which means we finally have a reliable, accurate and up to date method of determining the quality (and thus price) of a backlink.

What does it mean for our members?
We have decided to go with a rolling launch of this new system which means that we have already started adding pages with a mozRank of 1 or above. We expect that we will start adding links to pages using a price calculated from their mozRank (as opposed to their PageRank) as early as next week. Existing links added using PageRank as the price metric will remain calculated using the “old method” in a transition period of some months. This is to avoid large fluctuations in our members’ Link Credit balance.

Some members will have noticed that they will now have both a www and non www entry (and possibly other subdomains) of their sites in the dashboard. This is because Google does not distinguish between the two versions, however SEOmoz does. We encourage members to create a redirect from the non www to the www version of the site (or vice versa). This is a best practice SEO technique anyway and it will mean that the mozRank will all be on the same subdomain. Members are also welcome to activate the additional site, although we will not place links on it unless it has any mozRank.