Weekly SEO news: 22 September 2009
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're taking a look at reciprocal links. Are they great or are they crap? There are three major fractions among search engine marketers that have different views about the value of reciprocal links.

In the news: Google finally confirms that they don't consider the meta keywords tag, Microsoft tests a new ad format and Google pushes its Local Business Center.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Reciprocal links: are they great, crap or something in between?

Reciprocal links are discussed controversially among search engine marketers. Some think that reciprocal links are great, others think that they are a waste of time, another group thinks that reciprocal links work to some degree.

Great or crap?

What do search engine marketers think about reciprocal links?

There are three main factions:

  • Group 1: reciprocal links have no effect at all on the position of a website in the search results on Google.

  • Group 2: reciprocal links work just like any other inbound links.

  • Group 3: there's a threshold value. For example, you shouldn't have more than 33% reciprocal inbound links.

Which group is right and should you use reciprocal links with your website or not?

Is there a threshold value for reciprocal links?

Webmasters in group 3 think that a high number of reciprocal links is a red flag for search engines. The idea behind this is that links should not be trusted if (for example) 100% of a site's inbound links are reciprocal.

However, this is not really a good indicator. If high quality websites do link to each other, they won't harm their rankings in any way.

For some sites, it is normal to have a high reciprocity percentage

Link building expert Eric Ward recently did a test. He found out that there are websites for which it is perfectly normal that they have almost 100% reciprocal links.

The more specific the topic of a website is, the more likely it is that it will have a high reciprocity percentage. As an example, Eric Ward used the website of "The Southeastern Bat Diversity Network", an organization with a goal to "conserve bats and their habitats in southeastern North America through collaborative research, education, and management."

The top sites in that subject are all linked back and forth to all other websites that write about bats. This is not surprising and it shows that a high number of reciprocal links can also be a sign of high quality. It depends on the topic of the website.

If the websites were about different topics, then the reciprocal links would look suspicious.

Should you use reciprocal links for your website or not?

You don't have to worry if a link is a reciprocal link or not. That does not matter. Reciprocal links are neither good nor bad. They are just links and it always depends on the individual link whether it is a good link or a bad link.

If a link comes from a website that is related to your website then it is a good link. If the other website is related to yours then you can link back and this won't cause any problems. As long as you make sure that the links make sense to your website visitors then everything is okay.

You can use IBP's link building tool to get links to your website. IBP can help you with one-way links, reciprocal links, links from blogs, links from related websites, links from Internet directories and much more. It is a spam-free link building tool that helps you to get high quality links.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Matt Cutts
Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking

"Our web search (the well-known search at Google.com that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword meta tags completely. They simply don't have any effect in our search ranking at present."

Editor's note: If you want to find out which factors have an effect on your Google rankings, analyze your website.

Will Google's Caffeine update really change search results?

"While the first version of the Google File System obviously scaled quite well, it wasn't built to support the blended search results Google displays today (images, videos, news, etc.). Even Google's own Matt Cutts argues that this update won't have any major effect on Page-Rank and doesn't constitute a change in Google's search philosophy and algorithm. [...]

There was no major difference between the kinds of categories of sites Caffeine prefers compared to Google's 'vanilla' search."

GoogleGoogle announces the DoubleClick ad exchange

"We're excited to announce the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange, a step towards creating a more open display advertising ecosystem for everyone. The Ad Exchange is a real-time marketplace that helps large online publishers on one side; and ad networks and agency networks on the other, buy and sell display advertising space."

Microsoft tests paid search ad format

"Microsoft will launch a pilot this month to test new paid search ad formats using logos and favicons embedded in listings. The icons expand on the traditional two simple text lines and link. The formats are intended to make ads pop in search results and to encourage advertisers and media buyers to allocate more paid search campaign dollars to Bing."

Spreading the word about [Google's] Local Business Center

"All Local Business Center users in the U.S. who opted into receiving newsletters will now receive a monthly email report on how their business listings performed on Google in the previous month, including how many times the listing was seen, how many people clicked to the business' website, and more."

Editor's note: You can submit your website to Google's Local Business Center through IBP's semi-automatic directory submitter.

Search engine newslets

  • Google Apps sics crawlers on public docs and sheets.
  • Google Images China shows large pics inline.
  • Yahoo's new ad pitch: "It's You!"
  • Yahoo adds Zimbra to the garage sale as it tries to shed what isn't "You!".
  • Study: microbloggers are really boring.
  • Government urges changes to Google Books deal.
  • Google logos: a mysterious series for H.G. Wells.
  • Fake Google search for Taylor Swift (humor).

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3. Success stories

"None of my success would have been possible without IBP."

"I'm now on my third business and 13th web site and none of my success would have been possible without IBP.

It must be around 6 years ago that my wife and I woke up to the fact that having a web site with no visitors is just a vanity. She found IBP through Google and we tried it.

It was just a few weeks before we were seeing our first No. 1's in the search engines, including Google! Of course nowadays it's much more competitive and rankings are harder to get and harder to keep.

But none the less, we still have over 250 top 3's on Google alone! And we also use IBP to help us where rankings are starting to slip. It's easy to use and I love the mixture of creativity and competitiveness it inspires. I wouldn't be without it!"
Keith Wymer, HolbornTraining.co.uk

Online Keyword Suggestion Tool

220,000 readers will see YOUR website

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better.

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5. Previous articles

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