Link Exchange

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					                                                 Link Exchange
                                                                
LINK EXCHANGE

A link exchange (also known as a banner exchange) is a confederation of websites that operates similarly to a web ring.
Webmasters register their web sites with a central organization, that runs the exchange, and in turn receive from the
exchange HTML code which they insert into their web pages. In contrast to a web ring, where the HTML code simply
comprises simple circular ring navigation hyperlinks, in a link exchange the HTML code causes the display of banner
advertisements, for the sites of other members of the exchange, on the member web sites, and webmasters have to
create such banner advertisements for their own web sites.

The banners are downloaded from the exchange. A monitor on the exchange determines, from referral information
supplied by web browsers, how many times a member web site has displayed the banner advertisements of other
members, and credits that member with a number of displays of its banner on some other member's web site. Link
exchanges usually operate on a 2:1 ratio, such that for every two times a member shows a second member's banner
advertisement, that second member displays the first member's banner advertisement. This page impressions:credits
ratio is the exchange rate.

One of the earliest link exchanges was Link Exchange, a company that is now owned by Microsoft.

Link exchanges have advantages and disadvantages from the point of view of those using the World Wide Web for
marketing. On the one hand, they have the advantages of bringing in a highly targeted readership (for link exchanges
where all members of the exchange have similar web sites), of increasing the "link popularity" of a site with Web search
engines, and of being relatively stable methods of hyperlinking. On the other hand, they have the disadvantages of
potentially distracting visitors away to other sites before they have fully explored the site that the original link was on.

Feig notes several aspects of link exchange companies that prospective members take into account:

a) Banners that are animated images result in member web sites taking a long time to load. Some companies impose
   restrictions on animation lengths.
b) The size, in bytes, of a banner is important, affecting both how long it takes to load and how long it takes to render
   the web site displaying the banner.
c) Control over the subjects of advertisements is important. Some companies offer guarantees that advertisements will
   be restricted to certain subjects, will not include advertisements for pornography, and so forth.
d) Companies that provide mechanisms to design banners for webmasters often use automated facilities, where the
   generated banner design is not reviewed by a human being.

METHODS OF WEBSITE LINKING

This article pertains to methods of hyperlinking to/of different websites, often used in regard to search engine
optimization (SEO).

Reciprocal link

A reciprocal link is a mutual link between two objects, commonly between two websites to ensure mutual traffic.
Example: Alice and Bob have websites. If Bob's website links to Alice's website, and Alice's website links to Bob's website,
the websites are reciprocally linked. Website owners often submit their sites to reciprocal link exchange directories, in
order to achieve higher rankings in the search engines. Reciprocal linking between websites is an important part of the
search engine optimization process because Google uses link popularity algorithms (defined as the number of links that
led to a particular page and the anchor text of the link) to rank websites for relevancy.

Three way linking


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                                                  Link Exchange
                                                                 
Three way linking (siteA -> siteB -> siteC -> siteA) is a special type of reciprocal linking. The attempt of this link building
method is to create more "natural" links in the eyes of search engines. The value of links by three-way linking can then
be better than normal reciprocal links, which are usually done between two domains.

Automated linking

In order to take advantage of the need for inbound links to rank well in the search engines, a number of automatic link
exchange services have been launched. Members of these schemes will typically agree to have several links added to all
their web pages in return for getting similar links back from other sites.

Link exchange

An alternative to the automated linking above is a link exchange forum, in which members will advertise the sites that
they want to get links to, and will in turn offer reciprocal or three way links back to the sites that link to them. The links
generated through such services are subject to editorial review.

One way linking

One way link is a term used among webmasters for link building methods. It is a hyperlink that points to a website
without any reciprocal link; thus the link goes "one way" in direction. It is suspected by many industry consultants that
this type of link would be considered more natural in the eyes of search engines. One Way links are also called Incoming
Links or Inbound Links.

An effective way to build this type of one way linking is by distributing articles through content sites and article
directories. These articles generally contain an About the Author box that contains a one-way link back to the author's
URL. When publishers use these articles, those one-way links help authors increase their page rank.

Multi way linking

Multi way linking is a technique used for website promotion whereby websites may create similar one way links that each
involves 3 or more partner sites. This provides each website with a one way non-reciprocal link. This technique has
evolved from reciprocal linking. According to Google and Yahoo, the latest search algorithms have evolved to hold less
favor towards websites that contain a high percentage of reciprocated links, and a higher favor towards websites that
maintain a high level of incoming non-reciprocated (one-way) links.

The term multi way simply refers to the fact that the link exchange is between 3 or more websites, however each link is
singular by only pointing to one other website. Other means of linking that may increase your web presence may also
include other indirect methods such as loading images, videos, content or RSS feeds from a third partners website.

Link campaign

Link campaigns are a form of online marketing and SEO. A business seeking to increase the number of visitors to its web
site can ask its strategic partners, professional organizations, chambers of commerce, suppliers, and customers to add
links from their web sites. A link campaign may involve mutual links back and forth between related sites, but it doesn't
have to require the reciprocation of links.

Incestuous linking

Incestuous linking is an SEO strategy used by a webmaster to promote a collection of their own web sites, or those of
close friends.


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                                                   Link Exchange
                                                                  
Due to the domination of the search engine market by Google, and its underlying PageRank technology, sites are deemed
to be more important if they have large numbers of inbound links. If those inbound links are also from highly ranked web
sites, they will boost the web site further. With the take-up of blogging and social networking sites such as MySpace, this
has resulted in lots of web sites that are inter-linked and can artificially improve the ranking of a web site without merit,
i.e. without valuable or unique content.

When the sites are not directly owned, this is referred to as a web clique.

Overlinking

Overlinking in a webpage or another hyperlinked text is the characteristic of having too many hyperlinks.

It is characterized by:

1. A large proportion of the words in each sentence being rendered as links.
2. Links that have little information content, such as linking on specific years like 1995, or unnecessary linking of
   common words used in the common way, for which the reader can be expected to understand the word's full
   meaning in context, without any hyperlink help.
3. A link for any single term is excessively repeated in the same article. "Excessive" is usually more than one link for the
   same term in a line or a paragraph, since in this case one or more duplicate links will almost certainly then appear
   needlessly on the viewer's screen.

Underlinking

The opposites of overlinking are null linking and underlinking, which are phenomena in which hyperlinks are reduced to
such a degree as to remove all pointers to a likely-needed context of an unusual term, in the text-area where the term
occurs. Underlinking results whenever a reader encounters an odd term in an article (perhaps not even for the first
time), and wants to briefly browse more deeply at that point, but he or she cannot without an extensive search of the
article for a (possibly non-existent) instance of the linked term.

The extreme case of underlinking is a dead-end page, a page with no links at all. Usability experts discourage making
dead-end pages.

Link doping

Link doping refers to the practice and effects of embedding a large number of gratuitous hyperlinks on a website, in
exchange for reciprocal links. Mainly used when describing blogs, link doping usually implies that a person hyperlinks to
sites he or she has never visited, in return for a place on the website's blogroll, for the sole purpose of inflating the
apparent popularity of his or her website. Since the search algorithms of many web directories and search engines rely on
the number of hyperlinks to a website to determine its importance or influence, link doping can result in a high placement
or ranking for the offending website.

Originally used in an essay published in Sobriquet Magazine and on Blogcritics.org, link doping has been confused with
the related practice of excessive hyperlinking, also known as "link whoring". While the two phrases may be used
interchangeably to describe gratuitous linking, link doping carries the additional connotation of deliberately striving to
attain a certain level of success for one's website without having earned it through hard work (as an average athlete on
steroids might perform better than a naturally gifted athlete not on performance-enhancing drugs).

Free for all linking



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                                                     Link Exchange
                                                                    
A free for all (FFA) link page is a web page set up ostensibly to improve the search engine placement of a particular web
site. Webmasters typically will use software to place a link to their site on hundreds of FFA sites, hoping that the resulting
incoming links will increase the ranking of their site in search engines. Experts in SEO techniques do not place much value
on FFAs. First, most FFAs only maintain a small number of links for a short time, too short for most search engines to pick
up. Second, the high "human" traffic to FFA sites is almost completely other webmasters visiting the site to place their
own links manually. Finally, search engine algorithms count more than link numbers, they also check relevancy which the
unrelated links on FFA sites do not have. Another drawback to FFAs is the amount of spam e-mail webmasters will receive
from members of the FFA. Using an FFA can be considered a form of spamdexing.

Link popularity

Link popularity is a measure of the quantity and quality of other web sites that link to a specific site on the World Wide
Web. It is an example of the move by search engines towards off-the-page-criteria to determine quality content. In
theory, off-the-page-criteria adds the aspect of impartiality to search engine rankings. Link popularity plays an important
role in the visibility of a web site among the top of the search results. Indeed, some search engines require at least one
or more links coming to a web site, otherwise they will drop it from their index.

Search engines such as Google use a special link analysis system to rank web pages. Citations from other WWW authors
help to define a site's reputation. The philosophy of link popularity is that important sites will attract many links. Content-
poor sites will have difficulty attracting any links. Link popularity assumes that not all incoming links are equal, as an
inbound link from a major directory carries more weight than an inbound link from an obscure personal home page. In
other words, the quality of incoming links counts more than sheer numbers of them.

Link bait

Link bait is any content or feature within a website that somehow baits viewers to place links to it from other websites.
Matt Cutts defines link bait as anything "interesting enough to catch people's attention." Link bait can be an extremely
powerful form of marketing as it is viral in nature.

Link bait in search engine optimization

The quantity and quality of inbound links are two of the many metrics used by a search engine ranking algorithm to rank
a website. Link bait creation falls under the task of link building, and aims to increase the quantity of high-quality,
relevant links to a website. Part of successful linkbaiting is devising a mini-PR campaign around the release of a link bait
article so that bloggers and social media users are made aware and can help promote the piece in tandem. Social media
traffic can generate a substantial amount of links to a single web page. Sustainable link bait is rooted in quality content.

    Types of link bait

Although there are no clear-cut subdivisions within link bait, many attempt to divide them into types of hooks. This is a
short list of some of the most common approaches with brief descriptions:

•      Informational Hooks - Provide information that a reader may find very useful. Some rare tips and tricks or any
       personal experience through which readers can benefit.
•      News Hooks - Provide fresh information and garner citations and links as the news spreads.
•      Humor Hooks - Tell a funny story or a joke. A bizarre picture of your subject or mocking cartoons can also prove to
       be link bait.
•      Evil Hooks - Saying something unpopular or mean may also yield a lot of attention. Writing about something that is
       not appealing about a product or a popular blogger. Provide strong reasons for it.
•      Tool Hooks - Create some sort of tool that is useful enough that people link to it.


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                                                  Link Exchange
                                                                 
Forum signature linking

Forum signature linking is a technique used to build backlinks to a website. This is the process of using forum
communities that allow outbound hyperlinks in their member's signature. This can be a fast method to build up inbound
links to a website; it can also produce some targeted traffic if the website is relevant to the forum topic. It should be
stated that forums using the nofollow attribute will have no actual Search Engine Optimization value.

Link broker

A link broker is a company that allows you to buy or rent links. Link brokerages function in a few different ways but all
offer the same service: selling or renting you links. The quality of the sites, the links they sell and the prices vary greatly,
as do the effects those links can have at the search engines.

BACKLINKS

Backlinks (or back-links (UK)) are incoming links to a website or web page. In the search engine optimization (SEO)
world, the number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (though other
measures, such as PageRank, are likely to be more important). Outside of SEO, the backlinks of a webpage may be of
significant personal, cultural or semantic interest: they indicate who is paying attention to that page.

In basic link terminology, a backlink is any link received by a web node (web page, directory, website, or top level
domain) from another web node (Björneborn and Ingwersen, 2004). Backlinks are also known as incoming links, inbound
links, inlinks, and inward links.

Search engine rankings

Search engines often use the number of backlinks that a website has as one of the factors for determining that website's
search engine ranking. Websites often employ various techniques (called search engine optimization) to increase the
number of backlinks pointing to their website.

There are various factors for determining the quality of a back link. Main factor is the page rank of the web page giving
the back link. Back link from high ranked site is of good quality. Second factor is the subject of the pages which are linked
by a back link. If both sites are discussing the same topic, the back link is relevant and of good quality. Third important
thing is the anchor text of the back link. If the anchor text is related to the theme of the website (where the link is
pointing), then it is called a good quality back link. A good quality back link will increase the page rank of your website.

Obtaining backlinks from search engines

Most commercial search engines provide a mechanism to determine the number of backlinks they have recorded to a
particular web page. For example, Google can be searched using link:wikipedia.org (or link:en.wikipedia.org) to find the
number of pages on the Web pointing to http://wikipedia.org/.

Yahoo!’s Site Explorer is a method of obtaining the number of backlinks on a site.

Technical

When HTML was designed, there was no explicit mechanism in the design to keep track of backlinks in software, as this
carried additional logistical and network overhead.

Some website software internally keeps track of backlinks. Examples of this include most wiki and CMS software.


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                                                 Link Exchange
                                                                
Other mechanisms have been developed to track backlinks between disparate webpages controlled by organizations that
aren't associated with each other. The most notable example of this is TrackBacks between blogs.

LINK FARM

On the World Wide Web, a link farm is any group of web sites that all hyperlink to every other page in the group.
Although some link farms can be created by hand, most are created through automated programs and services. A link
farm is a form of spamming the index of a search engine (sometimes called spamdexing or spamexing). Other link
exchange systems are designed to allow individual websites to selectively exchange links with other relevant websites and
are not considered a form of spamdexing.

History

Link farms were developed by search engine optimizers in 1999 to take advantage of the Inktomi search engine's
dependence upon link popularity. Although link popularity is used by some search engines to help establish a ranking
order for search results, the Inktomi engine at the time maintained two indexes. Search results were produced from the
primary index which was limited to approximately 100 million listings. Pages with few inbound links continually fell out of
the Inktomi index on a monthly basis.

Inktomi was targeted for manipulation through link farms because it was then used by several independent but popular
search engines, such as HotBot. Yahoo!, then the most popular search service, also used Inktomi results to supplement
its directory search feature. The link farms helped stabilize listings primarily for online business Web sites that had few
natural links from larger, more stable sites in the Inktomi index.

Link farm exchanges were at first handled on an informal basis, but several service companies were founded to provide
automated registration, categorization, and link page updates to member Web sites.

When the Google search engine became popular, search engine optimizers learned that Google's ranking algorithm
depended in part on a link weighting scheme called PageRank. Rather than simply count all inbound links equally, the
PageRank algorithm determines that some links may be more valuable than others, and therefore assigns them more
weight than others. Link farming was adapted to help increase the PageRank of member pages.

However, even the link farms became susceptible to manipulation by unscrupulous webmasters who joined the services,
received inbound linkage, and then found ways to hide their outbound links or to avoid posting any links on their sites at
all. Link farm managers had to implement quality controls and monitor member compliance with their rules to ensure
fairness.

Alternative link farm products emerged, particularly link-finding software that identified potential reciprocal link partners,
sent them template-based emails offering to exchange links, and create directory-like link pages for Web sites hoping to
build their link popularity and PageRank.

Search engines countered the link farm movement by identifying specific attributes associated with link farm pages and
filtering those pages from indexing and search results. In some cases, entire domains were removed from the search
engine indexes in order to prevent them from influencing search results.

Justification

The justification for link farm-influenced crawling diminished proportionately as the search engines expanded their
capacities to index more sites. Once the 500-million listing threshold was crossed, link farms became unnecessary for
helping sites stay in primary indexes. Inktomi's technology, now a part of Yahoo!, now indexes billions of Web pages and
uses them to offer its search results.

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                                                 Link Exchange
                                                                
Where link weighting is still believed by some Webmasters to influence search engine results with Google, Yahoo!, MSN,
and Ask (among others), link farms remain a popular tool for increasing PageRank or perceived equivalent values.
PageRank-like measurements apply only to the individual pages being linked to (typically the reciprocal linking pages on
member sites), so these pages must in turn link out to other pages (such as the main index pages of the member sites) in
order for the link weighting to help.

The expression "link farm" is now considered to be derogatory. Many reciprocal link management service operators tout
the value of their resource management and direct networking relationship building. The reciprocal link management
services promote their industry as an alternative to search engines for finding and attracting visitors to Web sites. Their
acceptance is by no means universal but the link management services seem to have established a stable customer base.




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