Ryanl

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Hey guys, have you ever had clients who know each other willing to link to each other? We do a lot of work in the garage door industry. What are your thoughts and how would you structure it if you decided this would be beneficial? They aren't in the same market and we have multiple clients (4) who want to give each other backlinks.

Thoughts on how we should structure this? Do we create a page like "Friends In The Garage Door Business".

Just confused on how we could do this without it looking weird and no need to do it if we bury it, I assume. Thoughts?
 

djbaxter

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That's what Google calls a "link scheme".

They have denounced those for years and will take manual action, i.e., a penalty, when they discover them.

Hiding them is also subject to a manual penalty so that's no better.

My advice: Don't do it.


Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.

The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results:
  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
  • Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
  • Requiring a link as part of a Terms of Service, contract, or similar arrangement without allowing a third-party content owner the choice of qualifying the outbound link, should they wish.
Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines. Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that may violate our guidelines:
  • Text advertisements that pass PageRank
  • Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
  • Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites. For example:
    There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.
  • Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
  • Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example:
    Visitors to this page: 1,472
    car insurance
  • Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites
  • Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example:
    Thanks, that’s great info!
    - Paul
    paul’s pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego
Note that PPC (pay-per-click) advertising links that don’t pass PageRank to the buyer of the ad do not violate our guidelines. You can prevent PageRank from passing in several ways, such as:
  • Indicating the link is sponsored adding a qualifying attribute to the <a> tag
  • Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file
....

If you see a site that is participating in link schemes intended to manipulate PageRank, let us know. We'll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links.
 

Ryanl

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Thanks for the info. I didn't really view it as an issue being they are friends and it's a tight group of people in the business. I guess "Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking" would sort of qualify for what they are wanting to do. Not really but kind of. The word "Excessive" is a stretch being that it's only 3 dealers but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I appreciate the reply. I'll advise against this.
 

brettmandoes

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Thanks for the info. I didn't really view it as an issue being they are friends and it's a tight group of people in the business. I guess "Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking" would sort of qualify for what they are wanting to do. Not really but kind of. The word "Excessive" is a stretch being that it's only 3 dealers but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I appreciate the reply. I'll advise against this.


With the guidance they're giving they're specifically talking about creating a giant network of linking partners. I would argue that you're safe to cross promote the way you have described. It's friends helping friends which is very different from a giant link network, and also very common on the internet to have some reciprocal links as part of normal marketing efforts. Google's algorithms try to reflect real world uses. For example, the BBB links to sites in their profile. Businesses, excited about their AAA status, link back to the profile from their site to show it off. We also see this all the time with local sponsorships or partnerships between businesses. Boom, reciprocal links, valid use cases.

Coincidentally, I work for a large publisher with about 30 major websites in the portfolio. We cross link between properties all day long and Google does not have an issue with it. We know because we've asked and they directly told us it wasn't a problem.

So I think a small group of friends promoting each other via a "trusted partners" or "friends in the business" page or something would be fine. Just don't go hog wild with it and create some automated process because then, as djbaxter said, you WILL run afoul of the guidelines.
 
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If I was going to do that I would link to an inner page from an inner page related to a specific service. In my opinion that would be better than trading home page links.
 
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