Automated Link Exchanges vs Naturally Occurring Links

Clive Lobo

What’s the difference between rented (borrowed) links vs. naturally occurring links?

The difference is HUGE. Please excuse my bluntness. First let’s explain what I consider both of these types of links to be and then we’ll discuss why naturally occurring links are far superior.

Automated Link Exchanges
An automated link exchange is a group of webmasters who decide to link to one another. The link exchange is usually operated by an independent 3rd party and provides a script which you can place anywhere on your site usually the footer or side bar, on one or all of your pages. The script automatically places links to websites participating in the link exchange program. The way participating sites are interlinked is quite complex and designed to try and produce a naturally appearing link structure.

There are many, many different kinds of link exchanges out there all of varying quality. Some of them have made the radar screens of Google Engineers and are slowing being eliminated from the search engines. Others are still safely hidden from the search engines but it’s just a matter of time before they are weeded out. Why? The search engines don’t like artificial linking patterns – they really want to give credit to naturally occurring links.

Naturally Occuring Links

Naturally occurring links are those your site and content receives when visitors to your site decide to link to you for their own reasons. Other forms of naturally occurring links are comments on blogs, forums and interactive sites such as social media news and video sites. In fact there are many more of these types of links.

Which types of links are better? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why Automated Link Exchanges are bad, and why Naturally Occurring Links are good.

Automated Link Exchanges:

  • These are borrowed links (in some cases purchased). If you stop participating in the exchange all of the links you’ve received will go away and so will your search engine rankings.
  • You have limited control over the quality and content of the sites you’re getting links from. Links from gambling and pornography sites will not do you much good from a search engine optimization perspective, and certainly won’t give you an credit if your visitors see these kinds of links
  • You run the risk of getting banned by one of the search engines. As we’ve mentioned they are actively weeding out link exchanges because they are not a sign of naturally occuring links.
  • You are not likely to get qualified traffic from these links.

Naturally Occurring Links:

  • They are free and last forever (at-least as long as the owner leaves the link up)
  • Will not get you banned from a search engine
  • You have more control over who links to you – since you can easily ask them to remove the link or improve it
  • You have more control over where the link appears in the site
  • You’ll get better qualified traffic from the links you build

So there you have it. Several very good reasons why you should opt for naturally occurring links vs. automated link exchanges. While it takes much more effort to attract natural links, the benefits far outway the extra effort involved. Do it right the first time for the long term and you’ll receive the rewards your hard work deserves – long lasting first page rankings from a strong naturally occurring link profile.

If you have opinions on this topic please post your comments. I am sure it’s going to generate some stimulating conversations both for and against automated link exchanges.

Clive Lobo

Spark’s resident boss man, Clive possesses the very nature of an entrepreneurial spirit.

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