Talk:Link farm

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Meaning of link farm

I did not realize that the meaning of this phrase was as sinister as portrayed by this article. I've heard ... and used ... the phrase to refer to merely a page that is composed almost solely of links to other pages, which are often put up by innocent individuals as either part of a vanity site (indicating their interest in particular topics) or part of a topical resource (such as the lauded Cyndi's List of Genealogical Sites on the Internet). Is there an alternative term for these pages that appear similar in composition but are distinct in intent from link farm pages?

Thanks for the clarification/education ... Courtland {2005-01-27 USA ~8PM EST}

The article is incorrect[edit]

Link farms do NOT point toward a single, specific page. A link farm ONLY exchanges links between multiple sites.

Link farming was developed by members of Virtual Promote's Search Engine Forums to test the vulnerability of Google and Inktomi (now Yahoo!) to coordinated reciprocal linking. Many link farms are manually implemented, not automated as the article indicates.

I know because I was one of the people who helped to pioneer the technique. exact;y

User:Michael_Martinez

FOLLOWUP I've now revised the article. I'll have to look up links to Mike Grehan's articles and add them later. Michael Martinez 19:48, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Link farms include both cases: manually created groups of pages, and automatically-created groups of pages. ChaTo 08:51, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Restored paragraph about search engine response to link farms[edit]

I can agree that my original paragraph about PageRank was more of an aside, but the historical search engine response to the link farm phenomenon is well documented and worth mentioning. I have accordingly restored that paragraph. I would be interested to see why others feel it does not belong in the article.Michael Martinez 06:22, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Question[edit]

I want to be sure I understand this. Say I run Website A, my wife runs Website B, and a mutual friend runs Website C. All three sites are information-based, not personal (let's say the subject is genealogy). They contain original articles, but also have links to many other genealogy sites. In fact, the majority of my pages are devoted to links and reviews of other pages and sites. The owners of these pages and sites find out I've linked to / recommended them, and they link to me in turn (and possibly to my wife and friend). My wife and friend have similar experiences with the people they have linked to. Is this a link farm, and if so, is it not considered good netiquette? --Bluejay Young 01:57, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

The CORRECT definition of a 'link farm'[edit]

I don't have time to check the history of this article to see who mangled the core definition in the introductory paragraph. As one of the people who helped invent link farms, I know exactly what they are, how they work, and why they were created.

A link farm is a network of Web SITES (not pages) that, regardless of the "quality" of the content of the sites, agree to all link to each other. If you have 50 member sites, they each create a page with 49 links to the other members in the farm.

This fundamental definition should not be changed again, but if anyone tries to make it appear as though a link farm only supports one page, or that link farm members are only low-quality sites, such changes should be removed ASAP. There are other forms of search engine spam (such as doorway farms) where all the pages are low quality and are intended only to promote one page.Michael Martinez 04:36, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

An example[edit]

Since I dont really understand the subject, could you please place some links to Link Farms in "External Links" section?

Cute. I don't think you're serious. Jehochman (Talk/Contrib) 13:05, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

definition of a 'link farm'[edit]

I agree with Michael Martinez and I think the opening definiation needs to be changed.


"On the World Wide Web, a link farm is any group of web pages that all hyperlink to every other page in the group."

The above statement is wrong in that it states the pages in the link farm "all hyperlink to each other page in the group." This is not so. You don't have to have fully meshed linking of pages for the pages to be consider part of a link farm.

I would also agree with Michael that it would be better stated that a link farm is a group of web sites not pages.

I suggest the above be changed to some think like the following.

"On the World Wide Web, a link farm is a group of web sites that interlink to each other using keyword rich anchor text. This is usually done for the purpose of obtaining higher rankings in the search engine results."

I noted keyword rich anchor text in the above statement as it is not considered a link farm if you use the web site domain name the hyperlink is pointed at for the anchor text. The search engines give alot of ranking weight to inbound links with the keyword you are targeting in the anchor text. Therefore when you don't use a keyword rich anchor text but use the domain name instead you will not receive a penalty or a ban as you make it clear that you are not interlinking for the purpose of farming link that will increase you search engine rankings.

For example a webmaster may have 10 websites that he owns and he may interlink them all and either use a nofollow tag in the link or use a domained anchor text. This set up would not be considered a link farm.

I also noted that a link farm is "usually" done for the purpose of getting high rankings but it could be done for the purpose of moving traffic between the sites. As the search engine algorymth can't decern intent it will still be considered a link farm.

I will leave this up here for 30 days and I request comments on this. After that time I will make it live if there are no objects. Bobmutch 06:50, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

This article should NOT be merged with the 'linking methods' article[edit]

I don't know who created that awful collection of miswritten definitions for "linking methods" but this article is the best written and most accurate. People do search the Web for "link farms". Keep this article where it is.Michael Martinez (talk) 19:33, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Picture[edit]

This article could use a screen capture of a link farm website. But i'm not good at doing all the copyright licensing on image uploads. --Philip Laurence (talk) 03:49, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure that would be helpful, as the linking pages can take on any form. The automated link farms often supplied Webmasters with precoded pages but they really only needed to confirm that the links were in place. Some link farms just required that you submit the URL or URLs where you placed your outbound links so they could run random checks to ensure compliance. Michael Martinez (talk) 22:38, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

July 28, 2008 corrections[edit]

Someone had dropped a link to his blog in the external links section and I removed it. There are no blogs of which I am aware that authoritatively discuss link farms. I would only consider (but not necessarily without some discussion) linking to a highly reputable blog like SearchEngineLand if it comes to linking to an outside resource (of course, as one of the guys who helped develop link farms I also presently write the SEO Theory blog but I don't specifically have any real content concerning link farms there and don't want to violate any self-promotional rules).

Most of the popular SEO blogs (SEOmoz, SearchEngineJournal, SearchEngineGuide, et. al.) lack sufficient expertise and experience in this area to be good external resources. Danny Sullivan tends to vet his sources for SearchEngineLand. SearchEngineWatch might be another reliable source. Maybe if Shari Thurow or Mike Grehan wrote about them on CNET. I don't recall anything like that. As it is, this article currently provides the most highly visible and accurate high-level description of link farms and their history.

I don't believe it's necessary to provide more detail than presently (see my reply in the Picture discussion above). Michael Martinez (talk) 22:38, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Black Hat reference[edit]

Someone inappropriately edited the opening paragraph in the history section to suggest that black hat SEOs created link farms. The distinction between black hats and white hats had not yet been coined. The people who created the first link farm were just building links, not violating any search engine guidelines at the time.

Link farming has since been designated an inappropriate behavior by the major search engines. I have removed that reference from the first paragraph, as the technique was not considered to be unethical at the time. Michael Martinez (talk) 08:02, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Better wording?[edit]

In the Justification section it says:

Once the 500-million listing threshold was crossed, link farms became unnecessary for helping sites stay in primary indexes.

Wouldn't this wording be more accurate:

Once the 500-million listing threshold was crossed, link farms became ineffective at helping sites stay in primary indexes.

G Sisson (talk) 23:36, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Link farms became ineffective only when the search engines developed methodologies for detecting them. They were still effective, once the 500 million threshold was crossed, but they were not necessary because the search engines were including more content anyway (that is, you did not need as many links in order to be fully indexed). Link farms still exist today, although most now seem to be executed as blog farms (that is purely a subjective statement, based only on my personal observations).Michael Martinez (talk) 04:37, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Webring link dubious[edit]

The link to the webring article is dubious. A webring is not a link farm per definition IMO, and there is no content at webring that justifies a link from this article. GunnarHj (talk) 19:36, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree, I can't see any way a normal webring satisfies the definition of a link farm. I'm unaware of any pathological cases of webrings that do satisfy the definition. If there are any, it would be good to have some explanation as to how they satisfy both the definition of webring and link farm. Leaving the link in without explanation can only cause confusion. G Sisson (talk) 22:15, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Since you agree, and nobody else has expressed an opinion, I removed the link. --GunnarHj (talk) 18:08, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
For what it's worth, you made the correct call. A Webring is NOT a link farm, although some people have historically confused the two concepts.Michael Martinez (talk) 21:55, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Proposed Technical Clarification[edit]

I find myself discussing link farms, link circles, etc. more frequently with clients and associates. There seems to be a fair amount of confusion. It occurs to me that the one universal aspect of these group link spam techniques is that they create closed linking systems. The participating sites typically have few if any outbound links to non-participating sites (or relevant non-participating sites in the same verticals). Perhaps some language should be added to the article to explain that. Michael Martinez (talk) 21:55, 20 October 2009 (UTC)