Mr. Rogers’ link neighborhood – should you do a link exchange?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Mr. Rogers as a dinosaur. Original photo by Mike Procario.Chances are if you’ve had your real estate website and/or blog up and running for a while, you’ve received a few (ha!) requests for link exchanges from other real estate agents, mortgage companies, pharmaceutical companies, etc.

What you may not realize is reciprocal linking is not always so good for you.  In fact, it can get you penalized by the likes of Google as I mentioned to Phil Boren.  The thing to keep in mind is you want significantly more non-reciprocal links to stay under the radar.

The best links you can get are from a subject-related link neighborhood.

You’re growing inside

So what exactly is a link neighborhood?

Everett Sizemore, an eCommerce SEO consultant, explains:

“A link neighborhood is a group of websites that are associated with each other through hyperlinks. They can be topic-specific, such as a group of real estate websites; or they can be geographic, such as a group of businesses and organizations from Denver, Colorado. They can also be spammy, such as a group of non-related websites from all over the world linking to each other from dynamic “links” pages with the only binding thread being that they all subscribe to the same link building software.”

You might be wondering, do all the websites in the link neighborhood link to each other (like a link wheel)? Everett clarifies:

“Not all websites in “the neighborhood” have to link to all other websites. If a local chamber of commerce links out to several local businesses, some of which link to each other and/or back to the chamber of commerce – that would be a geographic link
neighborhood – and sites found to be within that neighborhood (both literally and virtually) would probably end up outranking competitors for geo-targeted keyword searches (ie Denver Dentist), all other things being equal.”

Now that you know what a link neighborhood is, you’ll probably want to know how to research a good neighborhood or two to get links for your own website.

Mister Rogers and his trolley

I’ll have more ideas for you

A good place to start is to read my last post on competitive analysis if you haven’t already.  I mention several free tools for doing back link research.  Researching a link neighborhood is very similar.  Pick a couple of sites who rank well and use those tools to see who is linking in to them.  The great thing about these tools is they typically will order the results based on authority.  Nice.

You can also scan your site now (or link exchange page if you have one…did you read what I said about those above?) with the bad neighborhood link checker.  It’s free.

Besides those suggestions, many search professionals and other serious web marketing folks pay for access to some really nice tools.

Here are a few you might want to check out:

  • Raven: I personally subscribe to the Raven tool set as it is an ever-improving group of SEO management awesomeness.  More to the point, they have a really nice, comprehensive tool called “Backlink Explorer” which will allow you to review the link neighborhood of any website, including your own.  (Starts at $19/month and has a free 30-day trial)
  • SEOmoz: I’ve been a long time subscriber to SEOmoz’s tool sets and attended the advanced search engine conferences in Seattle.  Their tool set is also filled with awesome things, but the one on point with this blog post is their “Backlink Analysis” and have “Competitive Link Research Tool” in their labs. (Starts at $79/month; there are some free tools but the best require a paid account)
  • SEOBook: While I don’t personally use this tool, I did use it when it was free and it was great too. (Starts at $300/month)

And finally, you don’t have to do start your link research in your own market.  Frequently, I’ll pick an outside market and see how the ranking look in that area and you’ll often find good links that might be missing from your market.  Then move on to your own market.

And you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about

I hope you do. Leave some comments; ask some questions. The inspiration for this post came from a comment in a previous post (as noted at the top) so let me know what you want me to talk about.

You always make it a special day and a special week for me, by just your being you. There’s only one person in this whole world like you; that’s you yourself, and I like you just the way you are.

Fred M. Rogers

AgentGenius.com is not affiliated with esizemore.com, Raven, SEOMoz or the SEO Book.

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