Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Disturbing Observation about My Link Pages

Last July when we were golfing in Ireland for a few weeks I did quite a bit of work setting up link exchange "systems" for my various Linknet websites. Since I administer more than 20 active sites I felt it was important to inject some automation into the link exchange process.

I tried two or three scripts and eventually settled on LinkMachine. The reasons were pretty simple: LinkMachine was relatively easy to set up, actually seemed to work, had numerous features that allowed semi-automatic link exchanging, and had a growing group of LinkMachine users who could exchange links virtually automatically. The program also does not require a database installation (most require MYSQL) and generates static html link pages on the fly. I felt this was important because I have had spotty results getting dynamic pages indexed. I ended up installing this program on about 15 sites, and left two or three with a "manual" system where I would actually have to go in and adjust the appropriate link exchange when I wanted to add a link.

If you have followed any of my previous posts, or checked out my Power Linking Course you know that I have a keen interest in linking strategies. You may also have noticed that my faith in link exchanges of the LinkMachine kind has been steadily declining as time goes by.

Since setting up LinkMachine I have not expended much effort doing manual exchanges. I just respond to requests that come in and register certain sites with the odd directory. But that's it. As I mentioned above, LinkMachine generates static pages on the fly using my templates, updates the pages when a new link is added, and retains the same page name. So that should be an optimal arrangement as far as Google is concerned.

Yesterday I had a chance to look at the link pages on one of my main sites Small Business Online. I was a more than a bit dismayed to find that none of the LinkMachine generated link pages on this site have any PR. That's right -- "0"!. This is a bit odd, since the index page pointing directly at these pages has a PR of 4. And that usually means they will benefit from the direct link from a page with decent PR...but that was not the case this time.

So I looked around at some of my other sites and sure enough. All the automatically generated link pages have a PR of zero. That's not good. That means the links on these pages pointing to my link partners are basically worthless.

So I went a step further and looked at the link pages of some of the sites who have exchange with me and who also use LinkMachine. Same thing. Every page PR0. In fact I have found this is generally the case with all link pages -- manual and automatic. Very few of them have any worthwhile PR. Most webmasters seem to throw their junk links on these pages and have very little concern with pumping up their PR.

A couple of interesting exceptions are the three sites where I have manual link pages. You can see the pages here:
Trade Show Tips
Free Card Business Card Displays, and
Trade Show Display Experts. This last one is actually in pretty healthy shape. All of them are worth exchanging links on.

The conclusion at this point is inescapable. The automated link exchange program is a waste of time. Unless I can discover why this is happening -- for instance, maybe Google doesn't like the long involved page names generated by LinkMachine -- I would be better to scrap the automated system and concentrate on more slowly building my manual pages.

In the meantime, I will just start creating manual pages that I can use for exchanging worthwhile links. When I get around to developing a "system", the pages will be in place, and they will already have developed some PR.

-- Rick