Why Does The Link Page Have A PR Zero?

For beginners, link exchange campaigns can be a minefield of problems. For example, here is a question I was asked:

"Hi Andy, I have noticed that a lot of sites that request a link exchange from me may have a PR 5 or 6 on their home page and when I click through to the links page there is a PR 0. This is very disappointing and I don't exchange with them. Should I reconsider this practice or am I right in thinking they are doing something to prevent PR from passing to their links pages? Best Regards, Troy"

There are many things to consider when exchanging links.

The above question asks whether you should consider linking to a PR 5 site when the links page is a PR 0.

What are your thoughts on that?

The question you should ask yourself is "Why does the homepage have a PR5 and the links page a PR0?".

There can be a few different reasons for this.

Reason #1 - the links page is new and has not had a PR assigned to it in the Google toolbar (that does not mean it has no PR, just that the toolbar has not been updated to reflect its PR).

This case is easy to spot. Look at the URL of the links page. Then go to the homepage and View the source of the homepage in a text editor (from the View Menu in Explorer, select Source).

Do a search of the source for the links page filename. e.g. if the links page is called links.html, search the source code for links.html.

If you find a link on the homepage to the links page, chances are the links page is new and has not had time to be assigned a PR in the toolbar yet. In this case, I would consider the link to this site.

You could also go to the Way Back Machine: http://www.archive.org/..and type in the links page URL. If the Way Back Machine has no record of it, it may be new (though it is possible to prevent the WBM from caching your site).

Now, before we move on, check that link to the links page in the source again. Make sure that there is no dynamic linking going on. While it is not always easy to spot, the introduction of the "nofollow" tag in recent months, has meant that many non-techie webmasters have been able to create dynamic links, quickly, easily, and without much technical knowledge. If you see the word "nofollow" in the link HTML pointing to the links page, then this webmaster is not passing PR to the links page. In fact, worse than that is the fact that the search engines wont even find and index the links page.

This is a case of one webmaster trying to cheat you out of PR. Don't link to them.

Reason #2 - Links page is not being linked to, or is linked to using a dynamic link.

If you do not find a link to the links page on the homepage of the site, or the link uses one of the forms of dynamic linking, then I would not recommend you link to that site. The links page will get no PR, and wont even be found by the search engines, so you get no benefit. It is possible the links page does have a link pointing to it from another page, but let's look at that as a separate issue.

Reason #3 - links page is buried deep in the navigation of the website. Some webmasters bury the link to their links page deep within their site, so that the only way a search engine spider will find the links page is by following 3 or 4 links from the homepage. When this is done, very little (if any) PR flows to the links page. Again, I would not link to a site like this. You wont get much benefit.

Reason #4 - Multiple links pages bury the page your link is found on.

On some websites, there are so many reciprocal partners, that links are often split across 10s (or even 100s) of pages. For a search engine spider to find the page you are on, it would require following link after link on these links pages until it reaches yours. Again, by the time it gets there, very little (if any) PR will have flowed to the page your link is one.

For points #3 & #4, my advice is simple. Start at the homepage, and see how many clicks it takes you to navigate to the page your link is on. If it is more than 2 clicks away, think carefully about exchanging links. You may not get much out of the deal.

Reason #5 - a sneaky one here. Check for a robots.txt file on the site that is requesting the link exchange. If there is one, make sure that there is no command that disallows the spiders from accessing the links page. This is a technique that will prevent the search engines spiders from visiting the links page, so no PR, and no benefit, is passed to your site. This is a definite one to avoid.

Andy Williams is author of the free, ezSEO internet marketing newsletter.

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