Like Me? Follow Me.
This week we've seen a new spin on an old classic - the three-way link scheme.
The idea was that three way links would fool search engines into thinking the links were given freely and one-way - better than reciprocal links which theoretically just cancelled each other out. Site A would link to site B who would link to site C who would link back to site A. People thought this was clever enough to fool Google - it wasn't - especially not when done many times over for the same site. As a result, and because of the difficulty in negotiating these links, they've fallen out of favour as well - unless you're the owner of the link request that fell in my inbox on Wednesday.
This "competitor" wanted us to give them a prominent link from somewhere on the main I-COM site. In return, they offered us a link back from a different site which, when we looked at it, turned out to be a very poor quality site full of gibberish content ostensibly relating to "SEO". They had no obvious links themselves from that site (it would defeat the object of a 3-way link) and were pleased to tell us that the link would be on the homepage, prominently. It is a PR4 site after all (their own site is only a PR3).
Now, never mind the way they obtained a PR4 site (it won't be PR4 for long) - what they were asking was for us to actively promote their services from our corporate site which would have us telling potential clients that we'd recommend somebody else for SEO (not a clever move, really). In return, we'd be getting our corporate site associated with the sort of spam we tell clients to avoid.
So, to sum up, we'd be offering to send our customers to a competitor site for free and in return we'd get a link from a very bad neighborhood which would also make us look like we engage in promoting spam on the internet.
What a bargain!
I'd be curious to know if anybody has actually fallen for this nifty trick.
The moral of this story? Avoid 3-way link schemes and always check out reciprocal link requests closely. Who you link to reflects your business to your customers and to Google.