Will RSS Go the Way of Reciprocal Linking? SEO Laziness 101

by Stephen Pitts on October 1, 2007

Link Exchange 2.0?

Today a well known blogger propositioned a new “link scheme” calling it Link Exchange 2.0.

The idea came from CopyBlogger back in 2006 when writing about effective ways to get more subscribers to your feeds:

Find a blogger that publishes related, but non-competitive content. Work out a deal where you both promote each other in your RSS feeds, using Feedvertising. If one blog has way more subscribers than the other, work out a ratio deal. Since Feedvertising allows you to create up to six rotating links, the smaller blog would promote the other blog continuously, while the larger blog would reserve one slot for the smaller blog, and use the other slots for other cross-promotion deals, affiliate links, or sponsor ads.

Similar to the BlogRush widgets that have been appearing in the blogosphere, it is another tactic to simplify the hard work of building a reputation and getting a chance to gain exposure to a new audience.

All of this after Google adjusted their webmaster guidelines recently (as noted from Search Engine Roundtable):

Examples of link schemes can include:
Link exchange and reciprocal links schemes (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)

Examples of link schemes can include:
Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)

It has been only recently, even if very generalized without definition, that Google has given any inclination that there could be any value to a reciprocal link from another website.

Does this mean that the value of RSS could follow the same way of the reciprocal link?

Even though it is a quite different proposition, but what is the long term value?

I know that we are all working to limit the amount of time an energy that is required to properly promote websites, but is it really worth it or does it just show our laziness?

What do you think?

Is this a value proposition or another form of SEO laziness?

Google Tutor October 2, 2007 at 12:02 am

Wow Pitfall you are really trying to stir things up with your post about my rss trade.

FWIW, its not anything like a link trade that Google would have any interest in, and it’s certainly not lazy seo, it has nothing to do with seo actually. It’s marketing 101.

All of this I think you know well, so I don’t really get your post.

Brian Clark October 2, 2007 at 12:19 am

I’ll have to agree with Google Tutor on this one… when I first proposed the idea of swapping links in RSS feeds, I was borrowing the concept from the world of email marketing. It’s similar to co-registration, which is one of the smartest ways to build a large opt-in email list, and some of the world’s biggest brands use the method to build lists for content publications and offers.

It’s just marketing man… nothing lazy about doing more rather than less to get the word out.

pittfall October 2, 2007 at 4:21 am

Tutor and Brian,
I will have to say that I would agree that this is a form of marketing, one of the earliest forms, “I help you, you help me.” But so is link exchange.

Honestly, I don’t disagree with link exchange at it’s heart. I actually feel that it is has a value, even paid links… but the intention is what I disagree with. If you are looking for the traffic from users that it can bring, great! :) If you are looking for added benefits from the engines in relation to your SERPs, then not so much. :(

Similar to a link, when you offer something to your visitors, users or readers (whatever your flavor) you are endorsing it. Your reputation is on the line when you link to another, especially in your feed or on your website/blog. Similarly, Nike is concerned about Michael Vick’s reputation tarnishing theirs.

It is a fine line that we all walk in the marketing industry, how far is too far? Link exchanges did, at one point, bring a lot of value to a given website and it was being abused because it brought more than just visitors.

My concern for this type of behavior is that I do not know the value that is given to RSS/XML feeds and the links that they contain. I also know that the “no follow” tag is a great thought, but it has not translated (as far as I can see) across all of the engines that have signed up.

I would not discount the potential value that this can bring, I guess I am kind of funny when it comes to who and what I read. I read a few hundred feeds per day and I am very selective when adding additional feeds. I find new feeds from the people that I already read, usually in their references in the content.

Don’t let your reputation be tarnished because of something like link exchange RSS or other. Don’t get me wrong, as a marketer, I am always looking for the opportunities that are out there… usually I bite off more than I can chew (even if I had a team of developers). I also enjoy the fact that I don’t have to rely on the money that is generated by my blog (presently, none) but the point to this platform is not money.

I know that driving readers, subscribers and users to a website is difficult and you should look at every single opportunity before dismissing it, but don’t forget the risk reward analysis.

Thank you again Google Tutor and Brian Clark. I encourage debate and would appreciate any additional points that you would like to make.

Brian Clark October 2, 2007 at 4:26 am

>>My concern for this type of behavior is that I do not know the value that is given to RSS/XML feeds and the links that they contain.

There likely is none. But that’s not the goal. :)

Google Tutor October 3, 2007 at 12:17 am

I appreciate your concern Pittfall, but Brian is correct, there isn’t any SEO benefit and it’s not done with any SEO benefit in mind. This has nothing to do with search engines at all.

I think the problem here is simply the words ‘Link Exchange’. This is about trading eyeballs and hopefully subscribers its not about links at all. And it’s really what you said yourself “you are endorsing it” YES I am that’s the point! I can’t just trade rss ads with everyone they are very very limited (one little line per post), AND trading with a subpar blog will hurt my rep.

That’s the only risk here, hurting my rep by trading with junk sites, but that’s not going to happen. I’m only trading with sites I would recommend to my readers anyway.

And if you wanted to look at it another way TLA, Feedburner, and many others sell feed ads and its perfectly legit, but trading them myself isn’t?

BTW, how many subscribers do you have? ;)

pittfall October 3, 2007 at 1:58 pm

I am not quite at the 1K level that you have, but I am adding new readers everyday. As far as subscribers, I won’t lie, I have something to track the number (feedburner), but I don’t concern myself too much. ;) I don’t rely on the number of visitors that visit or subscribe to my blog. I would love for that to change over time (but if this doesn’t happen, oh well).

By no means am I knocking what you do, I have been a subscriber to both Google Tutor and Copyblogger for quite some time. I respect your opinion, even when I don’t agree…

To my readers, I would just like to air a word of caution, not that it should not be considered. I applaud Copyblogger for thinking outside the box. I even enjoy the fact that I have caught your attention and have made a valid point (otherwise you two wouldn’t be defending it so easily).

Copyblogger, keep up the great ideas and Google Tutor keep up the good work.


Stephan Miller October 4, 2007 at 1:55 am

I think it comes down to working smarter and not harder. Plain and simple. Those out there opting for the harder work in any industry tend to disagree with those working harder.

pittfall October 4, 2007 at 5:17 am

Thanks for the comment. There is the old adage “work smarter not harder”, and it is true to a point. Building a house of cards smarter rather than harder is still a house of cards.

If there is any value placed on links in feeds I guess would be what it all comes down to. Not as far as I have seen has anyone posed this question to search engines, yet, or at least a valid response has not been received.

I tend to think that a website should be like tending a garden, add too much fertilizer, water, heat, cold, whatever and you could end up with just a stick of wood. It may be stable and counted upon, but will it provide long term? I would rather have a balanced approach with growing a strong tree of a website.

Google Tutor October 4, 2007 at 9:25 am

ok..now we are getting way off track, where did I come off as not working hard? and not being balanced? and not having a strong site? and how would either of you know?

wow, it’s like being on another planet talking with you guys. I mean really, this is the first time I’ve ever seen TWO people say working smarter isn’t a good thing! lol.

I’m working smarter on top of harder, they aren’t exclusive.

also, 1k was the limit for a trade we me, I have 5k+ subscribers :) and while I know that count isn’t very important to you, pitfall, it’s the lifeblood of professional bloggers.

pittfall October 4, 2007 at 10:15 am

Google Tutor,
You are absolutely right, this is getting off topic.

To clear the air, I did not state that you do not or have not worked hard, or are not balanced and never referenced anyone saying that you do not have a strong site.

Smarter and harder are not exclusive. If you are working harder without the smarter, you are doing so in vein.

Under no circumstances do I look down upon anyone that can or does make a living blogging. Even making decent extra income can be very elusive. I know the value of traffic (on a subscription base or otherwise) and it is also the lifeblood of traditional commercial websites. I applaud you for thinking outside the box, for being able to drive your income through blogging and commend you for your defense of the art and profession of blogging.

Thank you for your blog Google Tutor, I will certainly keep tuned in as a subscriber and extend the virtual olive branch.

I hope to see you stop by on occasion.

Cheers :)

Tutor Go Home May 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Cheers up !!!

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