There’s a lot of ‘dirty business’ surrounding websites and some of it concerns trading links. You’d think that it would be a simple affair: I put a link to you on my website and you put a link to me on your website. But it doesn’t work out that way.
I’d like to give you an example from recent experience (all names and link names have been changed). My client Peter built a website to promote his holiday cottage in Cornwall, UK. Let’s call the domain www.oldmillcreek.com. He also advertised his cottage with a large ‘aggregator’ called Holiday Properties (Hol-Prop) who lists homes all over the UK. Philip got a full page from them to describe all details of his cottage and this brought him quite a few leads. So Hol-Prop was good news for Peter..
With all this visitor traffic, Peter wanted to have a hyperlink on his Hol-Prop page pointing back to his own OldMillCreek site. “No problem” said Hol-Prop, “so long as you give us a link back on your site”. “Once we see your link we will activate the link on your page.” Read carefully the conditions that Hol-Prop state:
Hol-Prop’s conditions for personal website linking
If you have a personal website and would like us to include a link to this, please provide your URL here. You must include a link back to Holiday Properties on your website – please cut and paste this code on to your page:<a href=”>Holiday Properties apartment rentals<a> Note that we do not accept links to websites which advertise other properties or to commercial/business websites. We reserve the right to refuse or remove these links at our discretion. If you remove the link to Holiday Properties from your website then the link to your website will be removed from your listing. Fair enough, thought Peter!
What Peter gave
He placed a link on his website that said ‘See our cottage in Holiday Properties apartment rentals’. The hyperlink included the wording that Hol-Prop stipulated. Note also that link was a ‘clean’ link – i.e www.holidayproperties4U.co.uk. He waited for the return link and was delighted to see it added to his HolProp page. But then his webmaster did some extra checking and discovered that there had been been some ‘monkey business’ at play.
What Holiday Properties gave
Hol-Prop didn’t give Peter a link that read ‘Owner’s Cornwall cottage Old Mill Creek’. The link just said ‘Owners website – click here‘. There was no value to the hyperlinked text. The words ‘click here’ could have referred to anything!
In addition the URL given to Philip did not repeat the website’s name www.oldmillcreek.com. Instead it said www.holidayproperties4U.co.uk/property_redirect.asp?property_id=34523. Here was another plug for Hol-Prop on the Internet, at their client’s expense too.
Payback from Peter’s webmaster
Firstly he made the Hol-Prop link on his own site much more general – ‘Our site featured on this aggregator website – click here’. Then he changed the URL that he gave to be a ‘redirect’ as well – in this case www.oldmillcreek.com/oldmillcreek_redirect.asp?affiliate_id=145. Now there was no mention of Holiday Properties AT ALL in the URL – but they still got the return link that they asked for. Nobody could dispute that!
As you can see, linking is a complicated game. The lesson is simple: Only give the same value as you get in return. You (or your webmaster) can control every part of the link. When you understand that, you’re less likely to be taken for a ride by Holiday Properties and their kind.