June 18th, 2007

Alexa Train, Technorati Train, Viral Tags: Do They Really Work?

spamming comic

From my experience of running a web directory and blog directory, I’ve come across dozens of blogs that join these so-called link “trains” to increase their Alexa and Technorati rankings. Some are also in the illusion that it will increase their Google PageRank. At Ratified.org, I know for a fact that a bulk of those in the top 20 participate in such schemes. Had I excluded them, Bryan Boy would easily be #1. What happened to that plan anyway? Well, I decided to shelve it for now.

Anyway, let me say that I find these things extremely self-serving and useless. The only person who directly benefits from this is the originator of the scheme. Imagine this: if I were to start something similar, all I need is to make it sound like a valiant effort and coax a few believers to join in. Then it becomes viral because, who doesn’t want links? Every struggling blogger would jump at any chance to get links, right? That’s why it’s so easy to ask them to join. In the end, the originator gets all the link love while the rest are placed in a link farm.

Speaking of link farms, I cannot support the theory that “riding a train” increases PageRank. Link farms or free-for-all links (FFA’s) are an artificial way of linking. These “trains” aren’t any different. As we all know, for every link on a page, a little bit of its PageRank is passed on. Just imagine a low-PR page with hundreds of links on it. Basically the amount of PageRank granted is next to nil. Even if we consider the multiplier effect knowing that many other blogs will display the same links, they still won’t add up enough to make a real dent on PageRank. Also, the question of relevance comes to mind. I have a blog on cooking and I link to another blog about Hydraulics and to another on Yoyoing. Certainly those links will be considered spam by Google. But probably not in the case of linking only to those two sites. But if you link to a hundred more irrelevant blogs and those blogs contain the same exact links, that’s a totally different story. It’s called spamming.

I hope all the new blood in the blogosphere would concentrate more on developing good, original content, rather than spending hours and hours on shady link exchanges. It’s definitely a virus, the kind that should be cured ASAP.

Posted in Google, SEO


  1. 22 Comments

  2. RR said...

    Very informative piece.

    I think it would be fair to bring some integrity to the Ratified.org ranking system. Most of the Technorati incoming links on some of the blogs are downright SPAM/SEO sites and/or template linkbacks.

    Jun 18, 2007

  3. ia said...

    About time somebody wrote about this. Haha. πŸ™‚

    Jun 20, 2007

  4. Vince said...

    Im guilty…. i somehow lost my blog’s credibility (spirit of my blog); and so i made a resolution…

    Jun 20, 2007

  5. brVince, FMS said...

    That is what i can call “prophesying on blogoshpere”. I admire your reflection about “train…”

    Jun 20, 2007

  6. Jehzeel Laurente said...

    oh my… affected ako ng virus na yan ah! waaaaaa!!!

    Jun 21, 2007

  7. Eugene said...

    Finally, somebody ranted about these viral linking schemes! Thanks for bringing this issue up.

    Jun 21, 2007

  8. Connie said...

    “I hope all the new blood in the blogosphere would concentrate more on developing good, original content, rather than spending hours and hours on shady link exchanges.”

    Been saying that as early as iBlog 1. Most didn’t care based on my observation of the Pinoy blogging boom a year after that. Everyone just wants links thinking that the formula is: Links = Popularity = Money.

    Jun 22, 2007

  9. Connie said...

    P.S. I really hate the concept of “link love”. It so defeats the purpose of finding relevant content.

    Jun 22, 2007

  10. AnitoKid said...

    Kabayan, i sincerely believe that it was rude of you to have made such a comment – “More Legit” – at ManilaMom’s. I sincerely and honestly believe that you owe her an apology. A big one, kabayan.

    Why do we blog? To communicate and exchange ideas and to develop friendships, right? Link trains is a way to advance such purposes. And oh! Are link trains compulsory? Are they imposed on bloggers? Have all that participated in “trains” earned money? Earned more money? Could it be that joining link trains is about having fun? An avenue of exploring other blogs, such as those creative enough to know what Link Trains are? Could it be a good start to build one’s community slowly and steadily into something big? Maybe? Maybe not?

    The hundreds of bloggers who have joined such trains know that such “fun” are within the bounds of Technorati’s – the premiere authority in deciding what is and what is not legit with regards to backlinks, linkback, etc. Ratified.org’s rules are crystal clear – they are based on Technorati data and Feedburner stats. I searched Ratified.org’s site high and low but couldn’t find any guidelines or so-called rules on determining what is “More Legit” and what is not. So what gives? I could only think of one thing, “Your comment was rude and uncalled for, kabayan.”

    Everybody followed the rules – Technorati and ratified.org – worked within them, and did no harm to anybody. None. Nada. Zit. Zero. Wala.

    “More Legit?” When you left those those words at ManilaMom, it gave the impression that everyone who joined such trains did it in bad faith, are shady in character, and whose content are irrelevant. You are mistaken, fellow blogger. Dearly mistaken.

    I love having fun! And for me, a link train is one fun activity! It allows me to introduce my site to other bloggers and permits me to come across their sites too. And to do that while improving one’s rank and all! Now! That is a great idea, if I ever saw one!

    You owe EVERYONE an apology. And you can start with ManilaMom.

    AnitoKid at http://www.anitokid.blogspot.com

    Jun 24, 2007

  11. AnitoKid said...

    Self-serving and useless, you say. Cough cough cough. What do I see i your sidebar – Link Exchange and LinksJuice Business Directory. Yeah, not link trains alright, but could it be a relative of sort? Maybe the parent where all this idea could have evolved?

    Couldn’t help but think about link farms, some link directories, and legitimate blogsites (made by some SEO software and automatic blog generators) containing links to and from other blogs. Are these More Legit because they were generated by software?

    Jun 24, 2007

  12. Andrew said...

    Nope, unfortunately I can’t apologize for something I strongly believe in. And to make it clear, I was not referring to ManilaMom when I made that comment. I was referring to you and your “A-list blogger” claims. If you read my post above, link trains are NOT a way to advance your blogs. Even you have 100,000 links and 99.99% of them come from link trains, Technorati will never place you near the Top 100 because that list is handpicked. You are also courting trouble from Google because link trains are essentially link farms. I do know what I’m talking about, so don’t see this as a personal attack on you or anyone. Read up on SEO and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    Jun 24, 2007

  13. Van said...

    Andrew, are you really smart or just trying to be a smart ass?

    Jun 25, 2007

  14. Blogie said...

    Andrew is actually one of the smartest guys I’ve met. He probably doesn’t have the best social skills around… but that shouldn’t be taken against him. My advice is, see what’s good in what he says: Andrew doesn’t dish out BS; he just rubs people the wrong way sometimes.

    Jun 26, 2007

  15. Fatso said...

    I suggest you read Anitokid’s blog before branding it as unoriginal. You can ask Seeking Alpha if you have doubts on his credibility. I don’t know Anitokid personally, but I think the guy is good. It is great Filipinos have started blogging and I don’t get the point of you ranting some of your kababayans. You can say its hard to tolerate something that is wrong. But I don’t see anything wrong with trains. It only shows that you are connected and that I think serves the purpose of blogging. I know you are a know-it-all guy when it comes to SEOs. But sometimes, things can be said constructively without offending any of your peers. You may know a lot of things in this world, sometimes the things you don’t know are ones that will make you better.

    Jun 26, 2007

  16. Trinity said...

    Not all of us blog for the same reasons, and nobody’s reasons are more legitimate than the rest. I am a Filipina but I don’t live in the Philippines so I’m a little out of touch, but it was a pleasant surprise to find that there are a lot of Pinoy bloggers. I met and connected with quite a few of them through link trains and I believe I have those to thank for the increased traffic on my site. I don’t care about Technorati and Alexa because my target audience does not subscribe to those. I do care about page rank though because everyday I get new readers through Google search, but I think I got my PR4 through links from other gaming websites, not from link trains. Still, I think there is some good to be gained from those trains, and I think it’s not fair to condemn those who want to make a buck by blogging. To each his own, live and let live, tolerance is the key to happiness. πŸ™‚

    Jun 26, 2007

  17. fruityoaty said...

    Well, I got put on those lists BY OTHER PEOPLE trying to get my attention, like “Hello, tag you’re it! It was a pleasant surprise. I neither put myself on them in the first place nor have I EVER spread the lists by blogging about them. My ambivalence for the lists doesn’t come from a judgemental viewpoint… I’d rather boost my ratings through “real efforts”… not artificial means… because it doesn’t give me the real big picture (whether my blog is truly popular or not).

    The one good thing being put on those lists… Some people put stock on “numbers”… and have visited my site because “numbers” got their attention. And now, they’ve stuck around because they like what I spew.

    So, how are you going to differentiate between a person who put themselves on the lists and one who actively spreads the lists? Like being punished for something you didn’t do.

    But I do agree with the others… NOT everyone blogs for the same reasons as I do and I’m NOT going to judge them. For example, some people aren’t PROBLOGGERS… they’re PHILANTROPHIC bloggers who blog for money for LEGIT CHARITIES and that kind of exposure would benefit them.

    Jun 27, 2007

  18. Janette Toral said...

    Hi Andrew. I just submitted this post at Digg. You can find it at
    http://digg.com/offbeat_news/Alexa_Train_Technorati_Train_Viral_Tags_Do_They_Really_Work/

    Jun 27, 2007

  19. Dave Q said...

    I like this part a lot.

    “I hope all the new blood in the blogosphere would concentrate more on developing good, original content, rather than spending hours and hours on shady link exchanges. It’s definitely a virus, the kind that should be cured ASAP.”

    It’s about time someone’s brave enough to state this and stand up to it.

    Jun 29, 2007

  20. Iantrepreneur said...

    HAHA! yes finally someone that has some sense and agrees with this viral tag crap!

    Jul 5, 2007

  21. cooliojones said...

    Those are some good arguments. I think the situation will only get worse before it gets better, because so many people are hungry for riches.

    Jul 9, 2007

  22. Jayne said...

    This has to be one of the best articles I’ve read on the topic, and I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I added a link to it here: http://www.bloggerbingo.com/aboutblogging/2007/09/06/link-trains-think-twice/ and I just wanted to say “thank you” for this article!

    Sep 6, 2007


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