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Pros & Cons of Automated Link Building

If you have spent any time on the web, you must have come across a website that uses Zeus to build its link directory. It seems to be everywhere. Zeus offers a free and paid version, but the majority I have come across have the free version-you can tell by the banner ads.

Another way you might have come across a Zeus directory is by getting an email asking for a link exchange. "Dear Sir/Madam: Wow, what a great site, lets link...." or "Hi I recently visited your site..."

Saving time and energy is something everyone looks for when doing any project either on-line or off. Why take 20 hours when it can done in 2 with help? For a successful website, one needs to build links and this takes time. Thus Zeus and other programs have been developed to automate this process.

Link building is a critical and necessary website promotional technique that most webmasters should employee somehow to help improve their search engine ranking, link popularity, and traffic. If one does not automate the process the other options are to do it yourself manually or pay someone to do. [If you need more background information on link exchanges, see Linking101.]

Each option has its pros and cons, this article will only focus on Zeus and the numerous other programs out there that help "automate" the linking process.

Pros of Automating the Process of Building Links:

Time saver. With the Internet growing daily, it is impossible to see, let alone find every possible link partner website that is out there. Just setup Zeus and boom, it is out there looking for sites for you. It helps you get through the clutter to find only those sites which meet your criteria.

Nicely organized and quick loading directory. Webmasters can choose the categories to put in their directory and then the program adds the site information and urls.

Automatic emails. When a website is found and decided upon for the directory, an email (based on an editable template) is sent out to contact the webmaster. Sending out email plus trying to keep track of all the website contacted is a very tiring job. (I know from personal experience).

Contacts. The amount of links and contacts derived from using one of these programs is incredible. Again it would take a long time to find that many contacts. The more people you know and can contact the more opportunities and options there are for growth.

Cons of Automating the Process of Building Links:

Unfortunately the cons out weigh the pros. Most experience webmaster do not like automated link building.

"Automated link requests go straight in the recycle bin...If a webmaster takes the time to send me a custom (polite) link request, then I take the time to review what they are offering. The personal approach makes me feel valuable and recognized - which then encourages me to get into contact with the requesting webmaster." -Michael Bloch [Taming the Beast.net]

The biggest problem with Zeus and the other automated programs usually is the email aspect. Most of the email requests I get say the same thing. The template is editable but most do not seem to try to do this. Automated emails give the appearance that the sender has never actually seen your website (and this is true in most cases).

Recently at Linking101.com, a poll was conducted on automated email link requests. The question was "Automatic link requests-do you pay any attention to them?" One hundred and seventy people responded and...

When I get a request, I look at the email and quickly see what type of website it is that is sending the email. If it is on my list of site topics I link to, I usually check it out. If it is clear that the topic does not meet my requirements and that the person has not been to my website, I do like Michael said-into the recycle bin.

It is annoying to get an automated email saying that they have visited your site when it is clear they haven't. If I am trading links with say web design firms, why would a travel website want to exchange links with me?

Another issue is the links pages themselves. In Zeus there basically are only a couple of templates available to work with. If you have the free version, you have banner ads to deal with also. (I have seen very few websites in my travels that appear to have actually paid for the Pro version). Many past users have said that they had to spend quite a bit of time "tweaking" the directory pages to make them look like the rest of their website. From some of the other programs, their links pages aren't any better.

Most websites though have not spent the time to edit these directory pages, which to me seems dumb. A good website should have a similar look and navigation on all pages within it.

Also a problem is the number of categories. Websites that have used Zeus seem to go for the maximum number possible. Again quality is more important than quantity. Narrow down the number of categories. If you have a huge links section with tons of unrelated categories, that is really nothing more than a way to manipulate the search engine rankings by artificially inflating link popularity. Websites are being banned for this all the time now-why take a chance?

Finally, I was told that Google has zeroed out the PageRank on all Zeus created directories. I have not seem anything official from Google but it makes sense when websites are not careful when using automated link building products. Now, the value of a link from any Zeus directory has dropped to simply being a the link (any increase in link popularity based on PageRank is null).

Conclusion:

I like when websites use Zeus and put me in their directory. Why? Because I never asked for it and when I actually respond to an automated email and say I will NOT link back, my link is still there and usually high in the listing. Thus I get a free link and traffic and it did not cost me anything. LOL

In general, Zeus and the other programs are not to blame totally. The webmasters of these websites are to blame. Yes Zeus, et.al. are not perfect and are limited in what they can do but when a webmaster does not take the time to edit the templates, (or even purchase the ad-free version), or sends emails to websites he has not personally visited (or reviewed), or has every conceivable category in his links directory, you end of up with what we have-a mess and possible spam!

If you are using any of these automated programs or thinking about using them..check out the options of each (see our review of some these program at http://www.linking101.com/review0302.htm), spend the money for the Pro or ad-free version, and take the time to learn and customize the program. Automation can be a great help if used wisely.

Please do not be like the tons of webmasters already out there just looking to increase their linkage quickly and effortlessly. Remember the turtle beat the hare!

-Larry Sullivan
Linking101.com


Larry is the owner and webmaster behind Linking101, is a website dedicated to assisting webmasters find information, resources, and a better understanding on the power link popularity and link exchanges wield. Linking101.com has a free opt-in newsletter, product reviews, articles, and its own unique custom link products to help give you the edge you need.


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