I think that we all know now how important backlinks are for the search engine ranking success of our website. I also think that we all know now that one way to get these backlinks is by doing link exchanges with other sites. (For the uninitiated, backlinks are links on other web sites that point to ours.)
But do we know that there are various things we need to check before agreeing to exchanging links with another website? After all, the whole point of exchanging links with others is to benefit from the ranking of their web sites. It is therefore imperative that we investigate ahead of time as to whether exchanging links with another site is to our advantage or not.
I have thought about this whole idea of link exchange preparation and came up with a 3-step process that involves an analysis of 3 pages of the web site we want to exchange links with. The 3 pages are:
– the home page where we will need to check 7 things about that page,
– the directory page: this is the page that contains a list of categories that the site has put together in a bid to organize its link exchanges. We need to check 7 things here,
– the backlink page: this is the page that will contain our backlink. We also need to check 7 things here.
Note that in some cases, the ‘target’ web site will not have a directory page. In that case, our analysis will be a 2-step one rather than a 3-step one.
1. We need to check what Google thinks of the site. This is done by looking at some things that Google is happy to report about a site. The idea here is to see if there are any problems with the site, from Google’s point of view, that would cause us to decide not to exchange links with them.
I suggest that we look at:
a) how many pages does the site have indexed? This can be done by using ‘site:www.site.com’ in the Google search box,
b) how many backlinks does Google report for the site? This can be done by using ‘links:www.site.com’ in the Google search box,
c) is the site listed in Google’s index? This can be done by using ‘http://www.site.com’ in the Google search box,
d) what is the Page Rank of the site/home page? There are several ways of doing this. One way is to get the Google toolbar and visit the web site to see its PR. Another way is to use one of the many web sites on the Internet that enables us to find the PR of any web site. And still another way is to look for software that will tell you the PR of any web sites.
Although we will generally need to look at these 4 things together in a sort of table in order to decide whether the target site passes the first step or not, there are definite results that would cause me to decide straight away not to exchange links with a site:
– if the PR of the site is zero,
– if the site is not listed in the Google index,
– if the site does not have any pages indexed by Google.
You will note here that I am using Google as the first step in the preparation. In fact, we can use any search engine if we want to but given that Google is more fussy than others when it comes to backlinks, I would suggest using Google in the above first step.
2. I would then suggest that we look at 3 tags of the home page of the target site, in a bid to determine if the site has a theme compatible with ours:
a) its title tag,
b) its description tag,
c) its keywords tag.
There are several ways of checking the contents of a web page’s tags. If your browser, such as MSIE, allows you to view the contents of a web page, then you will need to visit the home page and click on the right menu command to view the contents of the page. Then you will need to scroll to the top of the page to view the contents of its tags. The alternative is to look for web sites on the Internet that enable you to view the contents of the tags of any web pages. There are many such web sites on the net.
The reason for this step is that Google takes into account the theme of web sites when looking at backlinks. This means that backlinks from a site that has a theme compatible with ours will be of higher value than one that comes from a site that has nothing to do with what our site is about.
As mentioned above, this preparation is on the home page of the target web site and is only the first step. There are 2 more steps: one on the directory page and one on the backlink page.
It is only when the target web site passes the 3 steps that we should feel confident about exchanging links with them in that the link exchange will be to our advantage. Needless to say that the target web site will also need to conduct a similar 3-step analysis of our site prior to wanting to exchange links with us.