Generally if you receive any type of requests for link sharing and link exchanging from someone you've never heard of, our recommendation would be to leave the email in your Junk Mail (or send it there if it managed to sneak it's way into your Inbox).
Along these lines we've just received a variation of these emails that tries to make out they are different and better by creating "three-way links", but we will explain in this article why they are no better, and in fact they are even worse for being incredibly underhand.
Most of the time you will have received an email requesting a link exchange and you will probably have simply ignored it - they asked, you said no (by ignoring it), fair enough.
However the email we've just received is trying all sorts of things to get you to take an interest, and to be fair we actually read the email so they have managed to achieve more than most of these types of emails already - it just shows how much time and effort they are prepared to go to, to then still offer you a complete con.
They start out by saying they apologize for offending me if they've sent it to me by mistake, and next line they ask me to reply to them if I want to be removed from their mailing list (clearly I'm not going to do that as it simply confirms my email exists and either they will keep sending me email or they'll sell my confirmed email address to someone else).
Next they ask if I would be interested in setting up a three-way link and that it will help our ranking on Google and they make the point that Google is a high traffic generator (well of course it is for the right sites, it's the highest traffic generator on the web quite clearly because everyone uses it, but whatever...).
Then they say they've already set up a link on a particular website (where the website sounds perfectly reputable) with keyword rich text and a link back to our website. This is entirely true, they have, and so there is only one thing left if we want to keep this link, which is for us to set up a link back to another of their websites i.e. back to what they've already told us about three-way links being powerful, and therefore they are saying we need to send our link to a different website of theirs.
So, they set up a link to our website (i.e. the one mentioned above that they did indeed set up), and we set up a link to their (main) website - and in theory the third link would be from their (main) website back to the website that links to us (which they clearly won't be setting up by the way).
And what's the problem with that you might ask? Well, the main problem (apart from the fact you shouldn't go around creating these sorts of link exchanges no matter who asks you to because Google is extremely smart and will most likely see through what you're doing, you would be much better off focusing your time on writing good content and having people link to you due to your good content - this is what Google promotes, it's how the web works (best) and it's what will make the most difference to your web traffic generation) - anyway, I digress, the main problem is this:
The website where they have set up the link to our website is worth absolutely nothing - in fact I checked and it is the first website I've ever come across that had a Pagerank of zero! It's incredibly easy to get a Pagerank of 1, I'm not even sure how you manage to score lower than that, but this site has managed it. The reason will no doubt be because Google absolutely knows that this website is simply being used to try to con people into creating these "three-way links" and has absolutely no authoritative links to anything and therefore gives it the lowest possible Pagerank score possible. [I say the lowest possible score because I'm assuming they don't go negative, but I'd be very interested to know if anyone has ever heard of a website with a negative Pagerank score!]
So they set up a link on this website that will do absolutely nothing for our Google search ranking in the slightest, and then ask us (from our well respected website) to link to their proper website so they get a significant extra link into their main website (and they are left with absolutely no association or trackability back to their dodgy Pagerank zero website - because they won't be linking to it from their main website as they had said they would).
I admit they are quite cunning, and extremely sneaky, but in the worst possible way and I hope no one is falling for this, but if they are (or if you are), then hopefully this article will help you or someone you know to understand what is really going on here.
I'm not going to publicly name and shame them (I know exactly who they are as they were asking me to link to their proper website!), it's possible they are using a third party link building company who have used shady tactics that they are not aware of, but either way the point of this article isn't to name and shame but to warn people about this practice so they can avoid it.
Having said I won't name and shame, if there's anyone from Google/Bing/Yahoo or any other search engine that would be interested to hear about the company involved, either to penalise them or to follow up further and request they stop these sorts of practices, then do feel free to get in touch and I'll be happy to forward you their original email.
Blog written by Simon Wilkinson