By David Leonhardt
Suppose you were offered 263 links coming into your website from 263 other websites all in one fell swoop. Everybody knows that the more inbound links you have, the higher you will rise in the search engine rankings.
Suppose further that these were real links from real websites that actually sold real products and services - no cheap FFAs throwing come-ons on a street corner on the bad side of town.
Suppose further that this offer included the reciprocal linking code for all 263 sites that just had to be cut and pasted into your website. Piece of cake.
Does it get any sexier than this? Are you drooling yet? Does the sweet perfume of "ka-ching!" float around your head? Is this love at first site?
Well, no, it's actually a fatal attraction, one you had best resist. One that could infect your website with deadly communicable diseases.
I resisted this very offer not long ago, and you should resist anything similar. Here's why:
1. The link pages on these sites are essentially link farms. The more links on a page, the less value they have in a search engine's eyes, especially when you start approaching or even passing 100 links. And don't expect any direct traffic from this kind of link, either.
2. There is a technical term for identical pages within a site or on multiple sites. It is called "duplicate content", and it is strictly verboten by the search engines. Here is what Google says about them: "Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content."
3. Do some quick math. You have 289 outgoing links, 263 of them are labeled "bad neighborhood websites" by the search engines ... so bad that they might even have been banned. What do you think will happen to your rankings?
Sadly, many webmasters fall for such tantalizing come-ons without thinking carefully about what the repercussions might be.
There is a lot of truly bad advice floating around the Internet on how to trick the search engines or find a short-cut to high rankings. This is one example of how following poor advice and hopping into bed with the wrong partner could kill your business.
Here is a good rule of thumb. Two's company. Three's a crowd. Four or more will get you arrested. OK, so I just made that up, and it's not very elegant. But it will keep you from falling for that inevitable offer with the come-hither eyes and the deadly communicable disease.
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