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.