Stopping Reciprocal Link Fraud

Avoid becoming a victim of reciprocal link fraud by learning how to spot the most common scams.
Reciprocal linking is a strategy that Web marketing specialists use for the purpose of generating higher search engine ranking and more site traffic. The practice is still an indispensable Web marketing strategy, but now fraudsters are manipulating the protocols for their gain - and your loss. Therefore, it's wise to watch out for unethical practices employed by bogus partners.

Why Do Web Sites Use Fraudulent Reciprocal Linking?
There are some Web sites who claim to be a trusted reciprocal linking partner when in fact they just aim to outwit their so-called linking partner. Why do they use fraudulent reciprocal linking? There are two possible reasons for this. First, these Web sites want to have one-way incoming links rather than a reciprocal link because a one-way incoming link is more valuable than a reciprocal link. Second, it's done to avoid participating in reciprocal linking activity with lower ranking Web sites.

How Is It Done?
Since reciprocal linking gained a huge amount of attention in terms of Web marketing and site promotion, it became a favorite target for fraud. There are some Web sites that don't use true reciprocal linking. Here are some common tricks unethical linkers use:

  1. Absent Back Link: This happens when your Web site’s reciprocal linking partner asks for a link from your site in exchange of a back link. Once you have already linked to their Web site, they won’t give your site a back link. This results in giving their Web site a one-way incoming link.
  2. Hidden Link: There are times when some Web site owners make your back link invisible to the search engines. by using JavaScript to hide them. Other times a supposed reciprocal linking partner uses the rel=”nofollow” attribute to make the search engines ignore your link.
  3. Redirect Script For Back Link: Some reciprocal linking partners use a redirect script to hide the back link pointing to your Web site. The back link is supposed to take the search engines and shoppers to your Web site, but instead it actually points to another page on the reciprocal linking partner’s site. This way, the back link pointing to your site is not recognized by the Web crawler, making it a useless link.

Reciprocal linking still lives and is still effective in increasing your Web site’s search engine ranking and traffic, but only if it is performed properly. If you're vigilant, you won't be a victim of reciprocal linking fraud.

This article by Monica Lorica of nPresence, an online Web marketing agency that specializes in Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click advertising, Content Management Systems, Web Design, Conversion Tracking and Analysis, initially appeared on Feb. 21, 2007.

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