Link Popularity and the Myth of the Guestbook Link
by Eric Ward, aka The Link Mensch
You have probably been to a site that had a
section called a "Guestbook".
Many sites ask you to "sign their guestbook", and many
of these guestbooks also permit HTML code in the guestbook comments,
meaning you or I or anyone can visit guestbooks on web sites all
day long and systematically create links back to our sites from
hundreds of other site's guestbooks.
Naturally, some web marketers (probably the
ones that think exit pop-ups are useful) think that by signing
guestbooks and adding
links by the hundreds they will improve their link popularity scores
at search engines. Before you get excited and do a Google search
on the phrase "sign our guestbook" (1.9 million BTW)
and head off like a link monkey, here's my take on the whether
guestbook links are valid, ignored, or penalized, and if they have
any impact on the success of a web site's link popularity.
Guestbook links are really no different than FFA links, if you
think about it. FFA (Free For All) pages are pages where a link
can be obtained by anyone (even a script) without human intervention,
meaning no person even looks to see if the requesting site has
any decent content. Such link lists are obviously useless. Ask
yourself when was the last time you went to a FFA link list to
find a useful web site. How about
And since ANY site owner could do the same thing--sign a thousand
guestbooks--how much credibility can such links truly have? None.
If I run a site that sells snake oil I can spend my days signing
the guestbooks of the best sites on the web and leech some link
popularity from them? Nope.
The real question here is do search engines know about this scam
yet, or do they count guestbook links as additional links for poplarity
rankings? My hunch is that since guestbook links are not in any
way an indication of content quality, then they do not matter at
If ANY search engine currently gives any credit or rankings impact
for guestbook links, this impact is only because the engine hasn't
yet figured out the guestbook trick, and soon will. In fact, since
the majority of guestbooks pages have the word guestbook
in the URL string, it would be absurdly easy for the search engines
to simply ignore any link that appears at any URL with the letters
guestbook in it.
And I'll bet you if they don't already ignore them they will soon.
My last point is more philosophical. If the reason you are seeking
a link is because
a). The link can be obtained automatically or in bulk numbers
and b). You are trying to inflate links for SEO purposes, then
the bottom line is it's all bullsh*t, and no matter if the engines
figure it out today or next month, the tactic is based on a lie
Until next time, I remain,
The Link Mensch