Daily Tasks


Finding New Links

I find new links through link requests either from forums or emails.

If I already link to a site and I know the webmaster is active I’ll visit the links pages and run my links manager over a page to identify any new links that I don’t know about.

I make my recent links available in 2 ways.

  • New links get a second link on the front page of the directory, slowly shuffling down as others are added (this is good as Google sees the page as having fresh content)
  • An RSS feed which can be used to pick up new sites and request links. I don’t know of anyone else doing this but I’d find it really useful as a link sharing exercise.

I don’t use Google or another search engine to find potential sites as it takes too long to find a quality site, then identify if they do a link exchange and to contact the site owner. Too frequently you review a site and realise they don’t exchange – or their email bounces (and these people are in business?). It’s much, much easier to approach sites who have already linked with sites you link with.

Spammy links

From time to time someone out there gets a great idea – “I know, I’ll sell scooters!” and they buy up 30+ domains with scooter in the title and a monster template template for each and get going. They email you the first link request, or submit using your online form. They note the page down and work through the rest of the list. When they’ve finished they go to domain #2 and start again. Slowly, over a period of days you start to think “lots of scooter sites” and hopefully you will stop listing them and even consider removing any you have already listed.

This has been tried by moving companies, web hosting, scooters and ofcourse all those “other” sites.

Over time you’ll get an instinctive feel for the requests and they’ll just get binned but until then be careful if something seems outside your sites theme.

Basic Checks

  • Robots.txt – sites can use robots.txt to prevent reputable search engines from indexing their links pages in the mistaken belief that this improves their credibility. To check just retype their url with robots.txt on the end and the file should either not be found or should allow access to the links page.
    If you visit the file on this site you will be redirected to the home page but if you visit on it’s parent site you will see the instructions.
    If you visit at another site picked (randomly) from my directory you get a 404 error.
    These are all good!
  • Check the cache and see if Google sees what you see. Some sites “Cloak” so that humans see a quality site and Google sees a spammy SEO-to-the-max site. If a site owner is prepared to do that you do not want to be involved.
  • Do they have PR? which may not be a concern even if they don’t. How does the PR drop from the front page to the links page. Be aware that new pages take a while to get ranked.
  • Have a look at how many links are on the page, preferably no more than 20 outbound. Plenty break this rule and shouldn’t.
  • Do they link to themed links and avoid spammy industries (such as casinos)? If their exchange is a jumble it may not get indexed well.
  • View the source of the page – is the link written in plain html?
    Links written in javascript or using redirects will probably not be good links. If you go to view the source by right mouse clicking and they have javascript to prevent this then they are a novice webmaster (more).

Advanced Checks

  • View the source of the page – do they have all their javascript and css on the page? This may throw the spiders so they never get to the links. 12k of plain text is meant to be the limit. But if the indexer hits a bad word or gets tangled in javascript it may stop sooner.
  • check that you’re still on the domain you started on and haven’t moved to another site or a subdomain. The phishers rely on the fact that people don’t look at the address bar. So do the dodgy SEO practitioners. Or they may use frames to hide the fact you’ve moved.
  • Check that the site navigation doesn’t use javascript – if you have concerns run Xenu from the front page and see if it can get to the links page

When to be generous

Remember how it feels right now. You have a site with no back links, it may not be cached, the PR is dreadful. In time you’ll be approached by another starting-out webmaster. Review the site kindly, make suggestions, link if appropriate. Judge whether the webmaster is making the “right choices” in how the site is constructed, does it show promise?

Marking links as recipricol

If I add a link to my directory I’ll send an email out inviting the site to link back to me. I’m happy to do one-ways, sometimes. They then need to email me back (or respond to a forum post) saying your link is here. It’s then a manual process to find their entry and mark it as recipricol.

It is a standard practice to sort links according to some criteria – that site’s PR or whether they link to you. I choose to list recripricol links first. The marker is manual though so you’ll see sites sitting high as I’ve marked them recipricol because they are important to the category, not because they link to me.

Processing link request emails (more)

On a daily basis I receive requests for a link exchange. Because my site is themed and the hopefuls out there haven’t given me any reason to break my theme their emails go the same way as all the other spam.

Keep an eye out for the good ones, just as I send email to others, some good webmasters send emails to me. I look for evidence in their email that they have reviewed my site, that they know what they are doing.

Because I use a database for my links directory, and have a form to allow site submissions 99% of the emails I get are spam – after all they would have just filled in the form if they had really visited and hadn’t just sent some nasty crawler through, or bought a list. Your ratio will be different depending on how you plan to manage your links directory.

Checking link exchange forums

I’m a believer in using forums for building up inbound links but some also have categories where people can request link exchanges and it’s important to review these looking for new opportunities.

If other forumites have a problem with someones offering they’ll usually say so, alerting you that there is a problem, one you may not have picked up on yourself. V. useful.