by Alyssa Ast
There's a certain search engine marketing tool that's rarely discussed. It's considered to be a taboo practice by many, while others support the use of it if done ethically. What's this little secret? It's called 3 way linking, a link building method used to generate traffic from sites, to a main site with the use of a third party site. It seems innocent enough, but is 3 way linking crossing the line?
What is 3 Way Linking?
3 way linking involves one webmaster, who has multiple sites, which are used to promote one main website. The purpose of the other sites is to use those sites to direct traffic back to the main site with the use of link building. In order to achieve the link building, the webmaster offers link exchanges with a third party site on the smaller sites, as long as the third party links back to the main site.
Links= Small site---> third party site-----> main site
Yes, this can build traffic to the main site; however, it won't go undetected by search engines unless the webmaster uses sites that are hosted on different servers, but even then, the approach is often considered to be unethical. As a result, all sites involved are discredited, as well as the value of the links.
So, what's the problem?
There are legitimate and ethical reasons people chose to use this method in their search engine marketing, but often this isn't the case. Most of the time, webmasters use this method to fool search engines. In the long run, 3 way linking will hurt the third party site and main site, because the smaller sites aren't relevant to the link exchanges. If any sites are caught in the 3 way linking schemes, ranking and credibility penalties will be obvious.
If you're trading links with sites that aren't relevant with one another, it's not a fair game and is unethical. However, if the sites are all relevant to one another, feel free to take part in the link exchanges at your own risk, but keep a few things in mind:
- Trust your gut. If it seems suspicious, chances are you should avoid it.
- Do a little bit of research on the websites prior to exchanging links.
- If the websites seem off topic, or just don't appear right, avoid linking.