A funny reciprocal links image

I thought this was kinda funny. Someone thought that Google was taking stronger action on excessive reciprocal links. So did they ramp down their reciprocal linking? Nope. Instead, they put their offer into an image thinking that Google wouldn’t notice:

Reciprocal link offer

In case you can’t read images, it says “Google doesn’t like link exchanges anymore. Go Figure, So I put this info on an image so they can’t read it. I setup these articles so they don’t appear as link pages.”

For that amount of work to try to hide how you’re linking, you could almost as easily create solid content that people would want to link to on their own. :)

49 Responses to A funny reciprocal links image (Leave a comment)

  1. Nice find, Matt. I hope the owner gets all the glory they deserve.

  2. Harith

    Matt,

    That should be called:

    GOOG doesn’t like excessive reciprocal images linking too :-)

  3. Maybe they should use white text on the image which is only readable when wearing x-ray glasses (like there used to be in the back of comic books). Not as easy as creating solid content but it would keep them busy. :)

  4. I’m guessing guessing the number of reciprocal requests has dramatically reduced since the publication of this article lol

  5. How do you find these Matt? Were you surfing under the ‘business’ or ‘pleasure’ category when you discovered this?

    The measures some people take to deceive Google!

  6. Does Google apply OCR for images indexed?

  7. Dave (Original)

    Blackhats, just when you think they cannot get any dumber, they prove they can.

  8. Did you get this from a forum like DP?

  9. I think Link Exchange is not a Crime … the person had already mentioned:
    “I am gonna be selective about who i list and the amount of sites i list so please PR4 or better sites that are financial related to the above themes.”

    Although he took it wrong the Google don’t like link exchange .. but i think he don’t deserve the glory like David Airey said !!

    PR is like Trust Rank for google as well as for webmasters !! So the person asked for some trusted links also from the related websites …. so i think its k !!

    What you have to say about this Matt ??

    BTW: How you found that :-?

  10. I agree – link exchanges are great, thats what the Internet used to be all about, i.e. swapping links to mutually beneficial site – this was before we learnt that it had any effect on Google Rankings, I think he kills it a bit by talking about PR …

    I am developing a music website and would have loved to exchange links with all the music sites that we were already talking to. I appreciate that it can be spammy – but in my experience it didn’t used to be.

  11. p.s. I think that Google needs to get rid of Arbitrage websites out of its PPC / SEO!

  12. It’s not surprising people resort to these tactics, as the whole page rank / link popularity thing is reaching its logical conclusion: Those who have it want to hoard it. Those who don’t have it are desperate to get it.

    Looking round sites from the UK, there are increasing moves by large sites not to link out in a fair way. For instance:
    - All wikipedia’s links are no-follow (wasn’t there supposed to be a plan to take this off when they were old enough – or was this too easy too game?)
    - The BBC uses some funny internal auto redirect process for many of its external links.
    - Myspace links via MSPlinks.
    - UK newspaper sites routinely ‘publish’ URLs to external sites but don’t bother to make them hyperlinks.

    These sites all receive loads of links – yet they don’t link back out in a fair way. So is it surprising people try to find other ways to get links?

  13. yeh using people for of a story and not linking back out is a bit dodgey it happened to one of my clinets on the BBC site.

    The money saving guy on Jeremy Vines Radio 2 lunchtime show manges to say his url more times than John Devorak does on TWIT :-)

  14. I’ve started a list of offenders (click my name) – feel free to add any more you know of …

    YouTube is another one – the website link in your profile has a nofollow tag on it.

  15. That person still did not violate the Google Webmaster guidelines – so there should be no penalty involve in this tactic.

    He or she may have been ‘outed’ by someone who brought this to the attention of Google – but technically, nothing wrong was done. ;-)

    It would be truly sad if this Webmaster or the links were in any way penalized.

    There was no information given about those articles in question – so they may have had some quality attached to them

  16. Hey, please forward me the person’s email address… I bet they can also help me get a “Guaranteed First Place Rank on Google” !

    A rose by any other name is still a rose…

  17. ErnestHemingway

    I am not sure when people will learn that they cant just fool google with their stupid tricks. Why is it so hard for people to understand. For love of god make your website useful to visitors instead of thinking about links and adsense and all, give your time in producing quality content so others will link back to you just like Matt said.

    People who know nothing about SEO do all these stupid things thinking they will make a change.

    Stop being dumb and play the game fair.

    Put good material so people will to you without you asking..

  18. ErnestHemingway

    ops I meant to say

    “put good material so people will link to you without you asking them for a link”

  19. It’s hard to comment without seeing the site in question, but here’s my take on reciprocal linking and judging by my rankings, Google seems to agree.

    Reciprocal linking is not a bad thing per se – it’s only bad when it’s done specifically in order to manipulate SERPS.

    I acknowledge that my site cannot cater for everybody and isn’t exactly what everybody is searching for – so I offer a well crafted, tightly themed link directory to my visitors as a service. The out bound links ADD VALUE to my site and improve the visitors surfing experience.

    Not all the sites that I link to, link back to me but so what! Like I said, my links page is there as a service to my visitors and not purely as a SEO excercise.

    If I get a bit more Google love because of the sites that link back to me – that’s great but it’s just a bonus. I get MORE traffic from referring sites and link exchanges than I do from the engines, and the traffic only comes from closely related sites and so converts very well.

    Nobody want to have to choose between types of marketing, we want to use everything that is available and in my experience, Google won’t slap you for any form of ethical marketing, as long as the purpose isn’t to manipulate the SERPS.

    That’s where the guy in the above example does break the rules in spirit if not in reality. He appears to be doing reciprocal linking for the express purpose of boosting his SERPS rather than getting quality traffic from good inbound links that just happen to be reciprocal!

  20. “How do you find these Matt?”

    We have a pretty wide circle of things that we spot on the net, Peter, plus people often point us to weird things that they notice, too.

  21. Dave

    “create solid content that people would want to link to on their own.”
    Hey- stop giving away our white hat secrets! Otherwise, pretty soon everyone will be doing this and the Internet will be nothing but sites with good quality content. And we certainly can’t have that! :)

  22. No such thing as get rich quick…although that’s what half the web is trying to promote. Whatever it is will take work, not just trying to get in the back door.

  23. “Someone thought that Google was taking stronger action on excessive reciprocal links.”
    This IS what the word has been.. which kind of makes sense IMO, (excessive is pretty much by definition overmuch, no?). I think reciprocal links are great if they are benefiting the audience, not so much the owners..

    Anyway I’m all for more quality content and all it just seems pretty silly to try a tact like this to build links stating: “we only want your link for PR” – exactly how is this helping their audience?

  24. I’m not sure that I blame this guy for trying to deceive Google, it’s my experience that purchasing links and/or reciprocal linking is still a powerful vice for rankings on Google. A new competitor taught me this lesson.

    In one year, we’ve tripled content and remain constant in rankings, some drops here and there, but overall constant. A new competitor steps in, and purchases over 300 directory, blog and website links and gains a dramatic rank to #21 on Google. On some occasions, during a refresh, this specific website is listed at #2.

    It’s a bit unsettling to sit in front of a client and once again find myself explaining the reasons why we do not purchase links or practice reciprocal linking – only to have myself proven wrong. My clients don’t see tomorrow when we’re discussing rankings of new competitor websites, they just see what’s on the front page today. They are aware of placement altering by location and utilize other tools to determine their average ranking in multiple locations. I’ve taught them well on how to locate their rankings – nothing to hide.

    A major client of mine pitched a client making no promises in rank, but lost the account to another firm claiming #1 results in Google within 6 months. My client, sat back confident in my statements, that such was impossible without a viral campaign to launch the new website, and even more confident that the #1 position is clearly held and owned by a highly viable news source. It was a bit tough to swallow when I saw this new site hit #2 just 2 weeks ago at less than 90 days old. I’m sure if you look through my Google Webmaster Account, you can find the spam and paid link reports to follow this comment. Not sure that any action was taken, or simply a refresh being done, but within a day, this site was dropped to #21 – but still a shock.

  25. trontastic

    “Maybe they should use white text on the image which is only readable when wearing x-ray glasses (like there used to be in the back of comic books). Not as easy as creating solid content but it would keep them busy. :)”

    He should have stuffed the Alt attri too. That way all his angles would have been covered!

  26. Matt – was there an access of keyword stuffing in the image’s alt tag?

    As mentioned above recips do not break any rules… so even though the guy thinks he is gaming you guys in reality he is just showing his lack of knowledge. Even his request for +PR4 sites is funny.

  27. Pre

    This is funny. Funny to see the measures people take to “get around” things.

  28. Nice one! Some people…. unfortunately though, this is just an amateur webmaster and nowhere near the levels of the people out there that are deceiving search engines and users on a daily basis. But I digress.

    One thing I did want to point out though is that you should probably be more careful with quotes like “For that amount of work to try to hide how you’re linking, you could almost as easily create solid content that people would want to link to on their own.”

    Most of us would say that producing quality content takes longer than 5 minutes…. yes, tongue in cheek, but people still follow this blog like the Bible.

    By the way, when Wikipedia is selling follow’d links, should we be reporting them to Google?

  29. That I must say was on the brainless side if I may be blunt. Image of no image, it was the intention that mattered. Promotion and abuse are a fine line, I think it should be clearer to most, but surprisingly in this instance subversion is not an option to leave out there like yesterdays news. .

  30. Priceless !!! hahahahaha

  31. Ohh nooooo Google has OCR already! *LOL* But actually I guess I am imagining Google to be too good than it currently is that I have been testing images for OCR, IPTC and EXIF using some unique text just checking if Google reads any of them. So far none of them are read even if the page is indexed and the Alt text can be read. At least I am prepared for the future. :)

  32. Asia, I’m glad that the site was back down at #21 soon afterwards. We do look through those reports and use them.

    AussieWebmaster, as you might guess from the tone of the content in the image, I wasn’t very impressed with what the person had done on their other pages.

  33. lol… cool, they’re getting more aware of spam linking to the extent that make themselves funny out of it.

  34. Such sites with such messages invites people to do what exactly the website says. Those who are strong resist these invitations but those who are looking for link juice . . . fall into this some kinda “trap”. Some people tend to get into this kinda linking business because it’s not that easy to get links for their website due to the content they have on it.

    I myself maintain a website in a business sector which is very wide, many competitors, many of them have much more backlinks and PR than us. In the beginning it was hard to get listed high any search engines out there, but after some SEO things ( which don’t violate any webmaster guideline ) I’ve done to the site, search engines started to like the site and since then things are doing well. Of course it’s not only a matter of SEO, it’s mostly the content which is written in way it should be. The website has still the same amount of backlinks like six months ago, the PR is now 1 ( yes it’s one, uno, jedan, eins …. ) but it’s ranking is still better than most competitors. To get to there where we’re now too a lot of time, but this showed me, it’s better to go step by step and following the rules than to do some aggressive backlink campaign and make the site disappear form the search results like it never existed.

    I’m not concerned about the competitors that beat us in the search results for a couple of weeks because of the incredible linkjuice they got from sites like the one mentioned in this blog, cos in the end, we’re still beat them without being affraid that we’ll possible get banned or something else.

  35. @ Philipp

    — Does Google apply OCR for images indexed?

    Good luck on getting Matt to answer that question. (:

  36. Jeremy

    Great post Matt – hopefully one day people will stop underestimating Google’s knowledge.
    I have a question though. In this post you explain that rather than spending time on “creative” ways to beat Google, we should create content that is worth linking to.
    But at the same time I feel that we must consider the power “no follow”. With so many people using “no follow” earning links these days is not an easy task.

  37. Marcus

    Well I’ve seen worse things than someone trying to do link exchanges with authority sites in a related niche but fair enough, it’s trying to game the system.
    But the big question is the one asked above – how to get quality links when an increasing number of authority sites now make their links nofollow or redirect links. This tends to push sites like wikipedia up the results at the expense of smaller equally relevant sites, often when they are not the best result.
    Lots of sites (including my own sometimes) now add nofollow even to relevant in-content links just in case they might be seen as ‘paid links’. Ultimately, surely that will cause as much damage to the search results as people doing link exchanges?

  38. David Eaves

    @Asia I totally feel the same, I keep trying to justify it to them all of the time saying things like Google will catch up to them, it is starting to get old though now. It’s just one of them things I guess, karma normally sorts things out.

  39. Owned! :P People always try to avoid the hard work by doing something even harder that seems easyer.

  40. It is amazing what stupid people will do.

    Would love to find out what happens to the site he is talking about!!

  41. roflmao. Go figure!

  42. Hi Matt,

    When you said you were happy it was down – it was down at #26 but now back up to page 1 again. Lots of paid links – am I perhaps misinterpreting your representation of paid links?

    If you can look into that, I’ll appreciate it – I’ll go ahead and submit the report again

  43. John Cena

    Lots of sites now add nofollow even to relevant in- surely that will cause as much damage to the search results as people doing link exchanges?
    ———————————-
    John
    Wide Circles

  44. so is it bad if you have a few reciprocal links?

  45. This is hilarious! For someone to think they know SEO, they certainly messed themselves up on this one. That’s just ridiculous. Well, I’m glad I’m not doing some sort of link exchange with anyone then. Almost did.

  46. Well I was amazed at Google books the other day when it found my keyword search in a newspaper ad from 1948.

    So you know Google is the all seeing eye. Even with images.

  47. This is hilarious, even if it’s old news by now. I’m reading your reply to one of Debra Mastaler’s questions at LinkSpiel re: first link priority. Glad she linked here, it was worth the laugh.

  48. I have a question, some directories say that we can include reciprocal links with HTML tags.will google penalize if we include them? How many reciprocal links can be included and should the content of reciprocal links be relevant to that of the site’s content?

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