Google has just sent the Search Marketing world
into a frenzy of hair pulling and nail biting. Its latest shake
up of its algorithm has put paid to unrestrained link swapping.
It had gone overboard like Meta tag stuffing before it. Even
before this latest revision, all signs indicate that the Search
Engines were beginning to devalue reciprocal links and forum
signatures in their SERPís .So what is a harried webmaster to
do? Are backlinks still relevant to search rankings? If they
still count, how do you acquire them without running afoul of
The answer to that is Link Trading. Link trading
also known as Link Renting, is simply paying to have a link
pointing to your site from another site, usually, with a high or
higher page rank. In essence you are buying the linking siteís
traffic and, if your own site is related, its search relevancy.
Link trading came into vogue even before the
current SE upheavals because it was often the only way a new or
lowly ranked site could get any links from authority sites. Its
principle advantage from a search rankings point of view is it
is a one-way link ≠ the most valuable kind ≠ and thus
constitutes a high quality link.
Secondly, link trading or renting if well
executed can pull in significant amounts of traffic. If you
target a site with relatively high traffic, you are likely to
benefit from the overflow ≠ obtain traffic you would not
otherwise have gotten.
Link trading also has a viral or branding effect
leading on from its traffic-generation benefit. More web surfers
get to see your link and if you properly optimize the linkís
anchor text, your site profits from the resultant visibility.
You also profit from being associated with the site hosting your
link, and if its reputation is good, this will yield a powerful
The downside is clear ≠ a site may have negative
connotations for your visitors, so researching them thoroughly
before buying your link space is critical.
As link renting becomes more popular, the number
of sites willing to sell link space increases. Given that the
purpose for most webmasters is to gain links from sites with
relatively higher PR, you should consider only sites that rate
as authority sites in your category. Over and above that, the
usual factors for quality linking should be taken into account.
Briefly these are:
1. Visitor Profile ≠ choose
only those sites that get the type of surfer you are targeting.
2. Page Relevance ≠ make sure that the title
and body content of the page hosting your link is relevant to
the linked page on your site.
3. Optimized Anchor Text ≠ it
is imperative that the text in your link is optimized for your
web page, as well as being curiosity arousing.
4. Text Link Placement ≠
wherever possible determine the placement of your link ≠ you are
paying for it. Links within body text (usually in your own
distributed content) are the most effective. The rule of thumb
is that the higher up the page the link is placed, the better
its click-thru-rate (CTR).
5. Quantity of links on page
≠ in a link trade set up, the hosting site usually guarantees
the number of outgoing links ≠ 3-5, and never more than 10. The
fewer links there are, the better your CTR. Too many (6+) will
erode the link PR you acquire as well as create distractions to
6. Design ≠ again you may not
have control over the design of the text link ad, but it is
worth checking to see whether you have any options. A simple
link will generally maximize your CTR. Dynamic urls are not
spidered by the SE bots, so any ad tracking scripts will do
nothing for your link popularity, only boosting traffic your
How to Buy Links
Many sites readily link sell space on their
pages. Due to the fear of SE blacklisting, some sites are
reluctant to openly advertise the fact that they will sell you
link space, and with these, it is often best to approach 3rd
party link brokers. This will generally not cost you more as the
linking sitesí pays the brokersí fees, but it will give you more
options to choose from. The leading link brokers are Text Link
Brokers and Text Link Ads. The caveats for quality linking still
apply, and donít plunge in if you are not sure.
It is usual for linking sites to charge a monthly
fee for each link with the possibility of getting site wide
links or links on specific pages. However site wide links tend
to be more expensive and may not achieve any higher PR than
single page links although they may generate more traffic.
Typical charges would range from $15/month for PR3ís to
+$400/month for PR7ís with wide variation in between.
I do not think there is anything to be gained in
linking with pages with less than PR5, principally because the
PR they would pass on would be minimal.
Hosted Marketing Pages
A variation on the theme coming into fashion is
Hosted Marketing Pages also known as Content Hosting or Pre-sell
Pages. In this method you arrange with the site that you want a
link from, to have a highly optimized, timely and relevant
article that you provide, hosted on that site for a fee. You of
course will have embedded all the relevant links in appropriate
content that you control. Its main advantage is to allow you to
advertise more links than a straight link trade, and with links
that rate more highly in SE algorithms for relevance.
On the other hand you lose out on PR because the
article would most likely be on a brand new page, and anyway you
donít want your material competing with other similar
editorials. Hosted marketing pages will I believe replace
reciprocal linking as the leading SEO technique, especially to
establish new sites.
HMPís are one way of paying to syndicate articles
relevant to your web site or page. Paid article syndication is
not a new SEO method, but as part of a link trading strategy, it
takes on a new dimension. Like with HMPís you would distribute
optimized articles, in order to acquire inbound links to your
site. One can either issue press releases through agencies like
PR Web, or have article directories do so. Either way you would
pay for prioritization and for wider reach. Just as with HMPís
apart from the exposure your site gets, you retain control of
your linksí anchor text.
According to research conducted by the Marketing
Experiments Journal, paid press release distribution has for
traffic generation purposes, a better ROI than traditional PPC,
with an added SEO benefit. (http://www.marketingexperiments.com/see/1122).
Link Trading or Link Renting differs from
straight advertising in having an SEO focus that in the longer
term obtains more valuable organic traffic from high SE rankings
than the direct traffic generated by PPC or any other type of
advertising. The latter is only effective for as long as you are
shelling out money to fund it, and most advertising experiences
diminishing returns, whereas an SEO technique like link trading
gains momentum from its viral effect such that in time you can
curtail the amount of link renting you are doing with only a
marginal effect on your SE visibility.
It is debatable whether Link Renting amounts to
SERP manipulation. By the reckoning of some, all SEO is just
that ≠ Search Engine manipulation. However even the SEís are
aware that SEO hones their own search results by forcing
webmasters to focus more acutely the type of traffic their sites
attract, based on existing search queries and extrapolating for
future ones. In a hypothetical world, if all web pages were
adequately optimized, even the most incomprehensible search
query terms would return relevant and usable results. This is
surely the holy grail of Search.
You need to decide before you start researching
sites to buy links from just why you want to trade ≠ for traffic
or PR. Some research suggests that PPC has better and more
controllable returns than Link Renting for traffic conversion
(traffic that buys or takes some other specific action). If your
aim is to boost your own siteís PR, be careful about how much
you pay. Tony Simpson of Webpageaddons has written an
informatively about this in a two part article. He concludes
that you are much safer bidding for link space on the basis of
traffic generation than PR. Either way, buying links, if
properly executed, enhances the prospects for a new site, and is
set to become part of the internet marketing mix for most
Happy Link Trading