Well, THAT got your attention, didn’t it?

It may be just a bit of an exaggeration, but not far off the mark.

Many Vancouver small businesses have the mistaken belief that link-exchanges will help them on search engines, but they are wasting their energies.

If you swap links with websites which are in your industry and have a high PR (Google Page Rank), then reciprocal links definitely won’t hurt you, but for heaven’s sakes don’t go swapping links with just any Tom, Dick or eHarry. It’s useless at best.

You’re probably still a bit stunned, but did you really think Google was so stupid that it would be tricked into increasing your Page Rank because you traded links with a bunch of random websites? For a while, reciprocal linking was valued by Google, and then it became obvious to them that there was a whole racket going on.

That’s not to say that swapping links will necessarily hurt your Page Rank. For example, if a website in a related industry with a higher Page Rank than your own wants to swap links, go ahead – their PR may rub-off on you 😉


Here is an example:

Downtown Vancouver Dot Com is an awesome local Vancouver directory which requires a linkback as a condition of offering free listings on its website. Their Page Rank is sitting at a very nice 4, and … ahem… at this time, this website is well advised to go ahead, get the listing and offer the linkback. It will not hurt one bit.

BIG PICTURE
Here is what Google likes:

HIGH QUALITY INBOUND (ONE-WAY) LINKS FROM RELATED WEBSITES WITH A HIGH PAGE RANK.

Here is a good article I came across when I wanted to find others who were interested in getting the memo out:
http://www.huomah.com/Search-Engines/Algorithm-Matters/This-just-in-reciprocal-links-are-pointless.html

Here’s an older article regarding inbound links but still very useful:
http://www.selfseo.com/story-19668.php

Ultimately, SEO is either A) time-consuming or B) expensive.

Do-it-yourself SEO
Oh, I could write a thousand pages on this, but because I’d like to stick to the HIGH QUALITY INBOUND LINK theme here, I’ll just say that I am always advising my clients to blog, blog, blog! Keep on-topic, be sure to use the search terms you are optimizing for, offer useful information to your readers, and you will do fine. If your blog is really good, others in your industry will link to it of their own accord. Case in point: the links above. You can also go to blogs, forums, and so on in your field, post some content and link back to your website, but beware, many sites have ‘no-follow’ in their code and you would be spinning your wheels to bother posting there.  More on that in another article later. Of course you can also send an email to everyone you can think of, requesting they post a link to your site, but that does get a bit awkward if you are NOT offering a reciprocal link.  If you’re good at business, you probably know a thing or two about etiquette (or sweetening a deal), so that’s your next project if you don’t want to spend big bucks on a paid inbound link program…..

Paid inbound links packages:
There are great inbound link programs available from reputable SEO companies which have a great track record. They create links to your website from HIGH PAGE RANK WEBSITES WHICH ARE APPROPRIATE TO YOUR BUSINESS. These links are not cheap and it does take time for the SEO to kick-in.  A normal price is at least $5-10 per month per link – for one year. Yes, that’s $600-1,200/year for ONE HIGH QUALITY INBOUND LINK. And yes, that’s another thing: there’s no point in doing things by half measures if you’re serious, and you will find that these programs are long-term, not month-by-month. Don’t worry, it’s not highway robbery; it’s what the market will bear, and there is a giant, sucking vacuum of demand in the market here in Vancouver for effective SEO.