Making Clients as Link Partners a Good Idea?

In Hong Kong, there are lots of web design companies that obtain inbound links from their client web sites. Whether it is requested or outright placement, it doesn’t really matter. The issue has been debated for a while in the past and still continues to surface every now and then, just like a recent WebmasterWorld link picked up by Search Engine Roundtable. I work for a company that builds websites but it never occurred to us to place a link to the company’s website even if it means more inbound links that might boost our search engine rankings or deliver curious visitors to our website (well, I know two sites but it’s because of a special partnership and one is even useless in search engine optimization).

I am not the one to say that the practice is bad but I just thought it’s a little unprofessional to place the links that have nothing to do aesthetically to a page. But who cares if it doesn’t when there are tons of scraper pages that proliferate and display nothing but plagiarized content, full of Adsense ads and no navigation that visitors who don’t close their browsers or use the [Back] button are compelled to click on ads to “escape” the filth of such page?

How do you find out if your web design company you intend to hire is practicing such thing?

  1. Go to Yahoo! Search Explorer.
  2. Enter the URL of the web design company and click [Explore URL].
  3. On the results page, click on the Inlinks (xxxx).
  4. Pick a few websites and find where in the page the link is embedded.
  5. If you see “Powered by …” or “A … production” or “Web solution by …” that’s what I mean. Usually it’s at the footer.
  6. Sometimes you need to check the source code to see if the link embedded isn’t visible in the browser. This is dangerous.

Again it’s not bad to place those links especially if there is a partnership between the site owner and site developer. I just thought that it’s sometimes a little rip off by the developer to get link for SEO purpose and free traffic if there’s no mutual agreement on it.

Would you suggest we do place a link on our client websites? Nah, forget about it.