Link building has never been easy. It's all about finding the best match. SEO professionals wanting to take the shortcut by buying links from farms can get themselves in trouble. They run the risk of getting crappy backlinks that can prevent relevant queries from floating to the top of rankings. Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines don't like the practice.
Eightfold Logic Founder Richard Zwicky thinks he has the answer. He built a social marketplace, dubbed Linker, for cross-linking where marketers can discover and link to relevant and high-quality Web sites. The platform applies dating logic to find the best connections based on contextual relevance. Quality links not only assist the business, but help search engines understand the Web pages to serve up on each query.
As you know, link building can become time consuming. I tried to get Zwicky to put a price on each link based on his estimates to secure a link, but he provided me with hours, rather than dollars. He estimates a low-quality link takes about three to four hours of work, good quality about 20 hours and high quality about 40 hours.
Emphasizing the importance of the new link matchmaking tool, Zwicky points me to a recent correlation analysis study of ranking elements by Rand Fishkin, founder at SEOmoz.org.
SEO experts building links for businesses sign up to participate in the link exchange. The tool requires you to fill in some information pertaining to the type of business your Web site should link. When SEO professionals add the information into the platform it runs matching algorithms to determine the match. The platform does a contextual analysis on keywords, Web site description, and geography to make the match. It also considers Web site descriptions and Google's PageRank and SEOmoz's mozRank systems.
The link-matching technology crawls content, does a series of root analysis on the terms and builds out relationship tables between the terms that exist on the two sites to determine the similarities. There's a series of geographic matching and pattern matching that occurs to assure the overlaps are directly related.
Development on the database and analysis tool to match businesses began in February 2009. The beta launched during the last week in March.
Receiving match opportunities doesn't cost a cent. But there are few business models floating around at Eightfold. The premium agreement gets you three free matches, followed by $12.95 for each reciprocal match. The business model hasn't been fully worked out. The company is considering either a club subscription or a transaction-based model, according to Rand Schulman, chief marketing officer at Eightfold Logic. "Think eHarmony for linking," he says.
There's no limit to the number of links a company can request, but it's really not about volume. It's about quality and contextual relevance.
Schulman describes link farms as "a group of sites not contextually relevant that link to each other at nauseam." A lack of relevance to the linking content plays a big role, but you get the idea. Low-quality inbound links can have a negative influence on search query rankings.