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What Exactly Is A "Link Farm"?

SEO / traffic-building questions and answers


What exactly is a "link farm"? I requested a link exchange with another site yesterday and the webmaster refused. His reason was that I was linking to a link farm. What did he mean by that?


A link farm is a web page (or even an entire website) that is set up for the sole purpose of allowing webmasters to exchange links with each other for search engine ranking purposes only.

Link farms shouldn't be confused with regular links pages on websites. There is a big difference between the two. Many webmasters create a links page for their site so they'll have a convenient place to put links to other sites with related information. Traditional link exchanges can go there as well.

A well-structured links page is an asset to a site because it provides the site's users with links to additional sources of related information.

So what makes a "links page" good and a "link farm" bad?

Most link farms share at least a couple of these traits:

  • The links page or website was created for the sole purpose of helping webmasters boost their link popularity.
  • The website adds your URL to a long list of URLs and requires that you place that "cookie-cutter" page on your website. In essence, you end up using exactly the same links page as thousands of other sites.
  • A link farm will sometimes consist of a long list of unrelated links, often without titles or descriptions. The entire link consists of nothing but the URL. This type of links page is useless for human visitors because it was designed to be used by the search engines.

So the tricky part of all this is being able to tell the difference between a legitimate links page and a link farm. The differences can be subtle, but there are clues that you can look for:

  • Is the links page well organized and easy to use?
  • Are the links categorized, with useful titles and descriptions?
  • Does it look like it was designed to be used by humans instead of search engine robots?
  • Does the page have a Google PageRank higher than 0?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then you can feel pretty good about exchanging links with the site. Otherwise, you might be better off to just say no.
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