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Search Engine Optimization Book

Link Farms

Link farms are sites that link to other with the sole intent of boosting link popularity. Because Google dislikes links between unrelated content some Link Farms have divided their links into categories, much like the Yahoo! directory. Well a real farmer wouldn't mix his beans, apples and maize in the same field would he? In return for including your link in the farm you agree to download and host somewhere on your website all the other links in the category. This must be done on a page that is reachable by search engine spiders and page must be updated on a regular basis to include new links. An example of this type of link program is the LinksToYou.com farm.

The problem from a search engine viewpoint is that these link pages don't provide any real benefit to users while at the same time skewing the results returned by search engines. Using link farms is strictly forbidden by the leading search engine's terms and conditions. The problem for search engines is differentiating between a link farm and other types of content. In the case of most notorious link farms simply placing an outbound link to the farm or its clients may result in a ban. The link pages generated by some link programmes can also have characteristics and HTML code that may be identified by the search engines.

Some webmasters have rolled their own link farms. These consists of multiple domains with lots of cross linking in the hope that it will fool the search engines into thinking that the sites are popular. Where the cross linking is between domains hosted on web servers that are physically close, that is the first three numbers in an Internet address are the same:

    121.100.168.2
    121.100.168.27
 

then these are referred to as affiliated sites and search engine algorithms may discount the links.

You will often receive unsolicited email inviting you to take part in link farm schemes:

Dear Webmaster,

I just visited your site and thought that it would make an excellent affiliate link partner with our site. To get started, just click on the link below and follow the instructions.


http://www.link-farm.com/cgi-bin/signup.cgi

Respectfully,

Rebecca,
 

It may sound like a tempting, no-effort way to create inbound links but it could result in your site being banned from the major search engines and the links will bring no benefit to your readers. Usually the inbound-links you will receive will be on low ranked sites and any PageRank will be divided over dozens of outbound-links.

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