Kimberly Krause Berg

Kimberly Krause Berg


Are you sick and tired of receiving "I just visited your website. I linked to it on this page. I would love it if you would link back to mine" emails? When you go to the page to locate your URL, if you manage to find it at all, your site is in the company of hundreds of others. Does this help your website? Will anyone ever go to that page with the hundreds of websites and miraculously click on just yours?

These pages with countless links to other websites were created during the fervor of link popularity when it was thought that the more links that linked to your website, the higher your website ranked in search engines such as Google. It was also thought that a reciprocal link between sites, any site, counted in your favor. Link farms sprung up, and website owners have been bombarded with reciprocal link requests ever since. Software and entire websites were launched to make creating link farms easier. But, many SEO professionals refused to use them, finding them to be a waste of time and website real estate, and an obvious desperate measure. My advice to my clients was from a usability perspective. Pages listing hundreds of websites leading OFF your website was illogical, especially if your website was trying to generate sales leads or sell products or services. The appearance of link farm pages made some websites appear unprofessional.

It didn't take long for search engine databases to become clogged up with pages upon pages that did nothing more than link to websites. This was their only purpose. Since search engines and directories want to provide relevant search results with quality pages for their users, link farm pages became quite a nuisance. Search engines began to penalize websites containing link farm pages. The workaround for that was to disconnect the link farm pages from the main site, but keep the game going in an effort to convince people to link back to your website.

Link Farm Request Checklist

The gig is up. Here's a checklist based on my own experiences, and those of other webmasters who contributed their thoughts on the subject in a recent thread on this subject. If any of these seem obvious to you, link at your own risk:

  • Their site has no possible connection to your subject matter whatsoever. The page they put your link on isn't linked to FROM any page, meaning it's floating out there in never-never land and is a ploy to get you to link to their site.

  • The page where they put your link is on a URL a mile long and several directories deep so engines will never find it.

  • The page looks like a farmer's field with nicely arranged rows of links to hundreds of sites which aren't necessarily organized in any logical manner, but that doesn't matter because someone told them the link is all that counts.

  • It's a link and a link only. No description. No proof the person ever actually reviewed the site.

  • They don't seem to know that links leak PageRank in Google, not the other way around or that the link that does you the most good is the one that shares space on a page with about 2 other outbound links, not 3596 other ones.

  • Signs they'll accept anything that shows evidence of being a "live" link. A true Directory has criteria, frets about the quality of sites it links to and doesn't have people out begging for links. Instead the reverse is true, with people begging to be let in.

  • They ask you for a link on your links page, even though you don't have one.

  • Watch for scams such as sub-domain one-way traffic feeders where the page your site is linked to isn't part of the main website. Study the URLS carefully before you decide to accept a link request.

Despite the negative approaches to link requests, there's definitely good reasons to seek them. If you see a website that offers something of value to your target audience, by all means, link to it. I always appreciate hearing from well researched inquiries. I can tell when someone has studied my website and has shown me a great spot on theirs to link mine. They take the extra step of pointing out on my website where they think their website should be linked. Most times they're correct.

Remember that it's not just the number of links back to your website that contribute to your rank jackpot. What counts is where your URL is placed, the amount and quality of its neighbor links and whether or not the page is even linked to the main domain at all. And that's just for starters. There's a lot more to linking and influence on rank than just a few basic guidelines. If you really want your website to rank well, build a good website that people find useful and want to return to, study branding and how that can help you, and of course, like everything else in a competitive environment, promote and market it effectively and wisely.
December 19, 2002

Kimberly Krause Berg is the owner of, and co-founder of Cre8asite Webmaster Resources Directory.

Kim's career began in 1996 as the Webmaster for an Internet magazine publishing company. Later, while working for "dotcoms", she built websites, incorporated search engine optimization and performed Internet software application usability/user interface testing. For years she freelanced on the side by performing search engine optimization services via Now a self-employed usability/SEO consultant, this mother of 2 is an advocate for home and small businesses. She specializes in what she calls the "marriage between search engine optimization and usability" and to that end offers Cre8pc and Cre8asiteForums as teaching sites.

Search Engine Guide > Kimberly Krause Berg > Warning!! Link Farm Ahead