Have you been getting emailed offers like: “Get Ten Free Links from PR9 Sites. No payment.
No hidden fees. We want to build 10 free links for your site just to show you the quality of our links. If you like them, you may want to order more.”?
I certainly have and judging by the queries I have received from clients many of you have too. The first question always is; “What are PR9 sites and why would I want their links?”
The acronym is based on Google’s term of Page Rank and on a scale of 1 to 10 a page with a ranking of 9 is pretty well as good as you can get. To illustrate what it really means in terms of the number of links needed by a site just refer to the figure below.
Links Required for PR1: As you can see a page with PR1 requires 555 back links to it to achieve a PR3 ranking. I would be hard pushed to do that so to promise a spectacular result for you is somewhat fanciful.
By way of explanation, the Google toolbar’s Page Rank feature displays a visited page’s Page Rank as a whole number between 0 and 10. The most popular websites have a Page Rank of 10. The least have a Page Rank of 0. Google has not disclosed the precise method for determining a toolbar Page Rank value. The displayed value is not the actual value Google uses so it is only a rough guide. ‘Toolbar’ Page Rank is different from Google Page Rank because the Page Rank displayed in the toolbar is not 100% reflective of the way Google judges the value of a website. Yes, Google is secretive!
In the real world things are somewhat different. There are actually web sites that provide “free” URLs that give you the opportunity to do it yourself. If you reply to the invitation to get your links to PR9 sites you will quickly discover that most of those are actually links back to you from Forum pages, dot edu domains and sites that appear to specialise in encouraging these practices.
In the early days of the web there were sites called link farms. These started off with good intentions and were specific to allied or similar businesses where you could link to your friends. That immediately improved your back link count and hence your site prominence. As always the concept was quickly “commercialised” and produced nothing for you but lots of money for the link farm hosting company.
There is no doubt that ranking in search results is important if not even vital but as always good content is still king and more so if supported by sites with relevant content of high quality.
There is a site which has a banner line of “hello folks here is a great list of high pr websites that allow you to post your link” and then lists dozens of sites like Flickr, Wolframscience and www.phpinsider.com. All legitimate sites but all with absolutely no relevance to tourism in any shape or form.
Let me quote directly from what Google says about link schemes:
“Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity. However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results. Examples of link schemes can include:
“Links intended to manipulate Page Rank; Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web; Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”); Buying or selling links that pass Page Rank.
“The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it. Before making any single decision, you should ask yourself the question: Is this going to be beneficial for my page’s visitors?
“It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters but also the quality and relevance of those links. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice and the buzzing blogger community can be an excellent place to generate interest.”
So once again these schemes appear to hold out hope but are on the “too good to be true” side.
With the co-operation of a few brave clients, I have published web sites without the usual meta tags or most of the content structuring as recommended by pretty well all of the so called SEO experts who push their commercial barrows. Nothing wrong with being commercially minded! However, good content that is structured to appeal to a human reader and provides solid topical information rates far higher than the artificial styles produced when one attempts to write in a manner which is supposed to please robots.
And yes, these sites rank very well!
What however is interesting and may become the new world for us is Google’s introduction of (+1). It appears to be similar to the ubiquitous “like” button but may become the marketing tool of tomorrow. This may well become the topic for a future article once the dust has settled and one can see how it really works.
In the mean time I suggest you choose your linking partners with care but get as many as you can. Importantly, get to know them personally rather than a cold email suggesting mutual linking. A great way to generate prominence is to be listed with as many major and popular booking sites and the like.